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Book Review: Shout

Shout Book Cover

Rating: 4 stars

A searing poetic memoir and call to action from the bestselling and award-winning author of Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson!

Bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson is known for the unflinching way she writes about, and advocates for, survivors of sexual assault. Now, inspired by her fans and enraged by how little in our culture has changed since her groundbreaking novel Speak was first published twenty years ago, she has written a poetry memoir that is as vulnerable as it is rallying, as timely as it is timeless. In free verse, Anderson shares reflections, rants, and calls to action woven between deeply personal stories from her life that she’s never written about before. Searing and soul-searching, this important memoir is a denouncement of our society’s failures and a love letter to all the people with the courage to say #metoo and #timesup, whether aloud, online, or only in their own hearts. Shout speaks truth to power in a loud, clear voice– and once you hear it, it is impossible to ignore.

This book was so beautifully written that I enjoyed every minute I spent reading it. The overall writing style in this book reminds me so much of Ellen Hopkins’s young adult, contemporary, poetry prose. Like her works, Shout does a wonderful job of telling Laurie Halse Anderson’s story in poetic format. The difference being though that her story is a memoir, based on her own life experiences that she had during her adolescence.

For me, that made this book that much more beautiful. I found her story from teenager to young adult relatable as she talks about her experience with sexual assault and how that helped shape her into the adult she is now. Her poetry style flowed very well and was easy for me as a reader to follow along. As a result, I found myself wanting to continue reading her story to see how she handled her life experiences.

Another element of this memoir I enjoy is the honesty with which Anderson talks about sexual assault. Not only with regards to how it affected her own life but also how she’s seen her writing about it impact the lives of others. I don’t recall if I’ve mentioned this in any of my blog posts before or not, but her book Speak is one of my favorite books. The first time I read it, I knew it was an important book that I’d always have on my bookshelf and it’s a story I’ve read countless times. With Shout, I find myself feeling the same way because the story being told within its pages is just as important.

I appreciate that this book brings up important topics such as sexual assault and censorship when it comes to allowing children to read certain books. Both topics need to be addressed, especially in books. It saddens me to see so little has changed when it comes to these topics and I appreciate Anderson’s words bringing this truth to light and letting us know she wants to continue being a voice of change.

There is very little with this memoir I didn’t enjoy, except maybe certain poems didn’t flow very well. Or that I found when reading certain parts of the overall story didn’t feel quite as strong as others. I overall loved each of the sections in this book, but I sometimes found the writing worked well in one section over the other. Not to say that I didn’t enjoy the content, I just didn’t find that section quite as enjoyable to read as the other. It was interesting and caught my attention but didn’t speak to me quite as much.

Either way, I overall enjoyed reading Shout. To the point where I’m at a loss of words to describe my thoughts on this book. It’s a good book, full of content that gets straight to the point and leaves quite the punch. If you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend it, especially to those who love poetry/prose and memoirs. It’s also good for young adult readers and those who enjoy reading books that deal with difficult topics.

Book Review: Five Feet Apart

Five Feet Apart Book Cover

Rating: 4 stars

Can you love someone you can never touch?

Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.

The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals.

Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment.

What if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?

I read this book in memory of my best friend who passed away last month in her battle against cystic fibrosis, which I recently shared here on my blog. It’s based off a screenplay by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis and chronicles the story of Stella and Will, two teenagers struggling in their battle against cystic fibrosis but for different reasons. While Stella is doing everything she can to keep her health in order so that she can get a lung transplant, Will is tired of going from hospital to hospital and is doing the best he can to live his life to the fullest. They fall in love with each other, but they must stay six feet apart in order not to jeopardize each other’s health, which feels like punishment to them both.

What I loved about reading Five Feet Apart is that this story brings awareness to cystic fibrosis, a disease that affects so many people in the world and currently doesn’t have a cure. I especially love that the story brings up information about cystic fibrosis people who don’t have the disease might not know, such as that people with cystic fibrosis can’t get too close to each other because of the risk of catching bacterial infections. While I had a very good friend who had cystic fibrosis, there are still some things I myself don’t know about the disease and I felt like this book brought that information to my attention. For that reason alone, I appreciate this book because it brought about awareness for a terrible disease that deeply impacted the life of someone I truly cared for.

I also enjoyed reading this book because I love the characters and the shifting points of view between the two protagonists, Stella, and Will. What made the characters in this book so sympathetic and real to me was seeing how they each handled their current predicament. For Stella, she focused on being well for the sake of her two parents whose marriage crumbled due to a devastating loss that shook the foundation of their family. Will, on the other hand, was more focused on getting out of the hospital and being able to live his life to the fullest since he was dying anyway. He was tired of spending all of his days in the hospital and couldn’t wait to turn eighteen so he could be done with hospital stays for good. I felt myself cheering these two young teens on as they struggled with being together while keeping their own safety in mind.

What I especially loved about reading Five Feet Apart is that it had an emotional impact on me. I know part of that is due to what happened with my friend, and reading a story with characters dealing with the same disease brought those emotions to the forefront. But I also know it’s due too because the story itself moved me. It felt like it was the right book for me to read at the right time.

But at the same time, there are some issues I had with the story itself too that I do need to bring up. For starters, I wasn’t fond of the instant-love that happened between Stella and Will. It’s a common troupe you see in young adult literature that I feel gets overused too much and I was sad to see it in this book too. While I understand why the connection starts, I felt like it was a little unrealistic in this story because of what these characters are dealing with.

I also wonder slightly about the accuracy of cystic fibrosis in this book. While I personally knew someone with the disease so I already knew some of the information that was brought up in the story, there were some details I was unsure of. I don’t have cystic fibrosis so I know I can’t speak for those who do, but if there’s inaccuracy in this book, it would be nice to know for sure. Unfortunately, the person who I’d speak to about this is no longer here to talk to about this book with.

This brings up another separate issue itself that doesn’t necessarily have to do with the book but that I feel I need to talk about anyway. I honestly wish I’d read this book sooner before my friend passed away. Or that we both could read it so we could talk about it with each other. I know she probably would’ve loved to do that (especially since there’s a movie coming out later this month, and she’s the one who mentioned wanting to see it) and I would be able to pick her mind about the way those with cystic fibrosis are represented in the story. So for me reading this story was pretty bittersweet because it reminded me of my friend’s desire to go and see the movie, which I also plan on doing too.

Overall, I love this book as a whole and give it four stars despite several issues I had with it. I find that I can’t give this book a lower rating because awareness of cystic fibrosis is important to me and I appreciate that this book attempts to bring this illness to people’s attention. It might not be done correctly, but I appreciate the effort and the story had a strong emotional impact on me that I can’t simply ignore. This book will forever hold a special place in my heart because it reminds me of a dear friend. I also can’t wait to see the movie no matter how sad not getting to see it with her will make me.

I highly recommend this story to those interested in learning more about cystic fibrosis and anyone interested in health as a collective whole. I also recommend this book to those who enjoy a good young adult romance like I sometimes do and want to read a story with sympathetic characters.

I’ve included the trailer in this post below for those interested in going to see the movie like I am so you can have an even better idea of the story I just finished reading.

 

Grieving the Loss of a Dear Friend

Erin and I Great Strides Walk May 2017

My heart feels so shattered right now. This week has been one of the hardest weeks of my life. My best friend, who I’ve known since my freshman year of high school, passed away on Wednesday, February 13th. She was fighting for her life against cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that affects a person’s lungs and their ability to breathe, the pancreas and other parts of their body.

While I knew this day would eventually come (people with cystic fibrosis don’t have a long life span, most nowadays live until their 30’s and there’s still no cure), it still doesn’t make it any less hard for me to deal with the grief I’ve been experiencing since her passing. She was a good friend, someone I truly trusted with all my heart and soul, who cared a lot about everyone she encountered. She was strong too, always putting on a brave face even when she was in pain fighting against this terrible disease. In our friendship, I always felt like I could truly be myself around her and could talk to her about anything and everything.

She was the best friend I could ever ask for. It feels like just yesterday we were talking and creating memories together. I remember moments from high school, like some of the classes we had together and when we’d eat lunch on the senior balcony during senior year. Also, recent moments too from during and after I was done in college, like when we went to the zoo together with her oldest son, went to the beach with another friend because she loved the ocean, and whenever I went with her when she decided she wanted tattoos. There are so many other moments that stand out to me in our friendship, but these are some of the best ones. Now, she’s no longer here and I feel like a piece of me went with her when she passed away.

Erin and I At the Zoo June 2014

I know the next few weeks will be extremely difficult for everyone she cares about. She’s left behind so many good people who care so much about her along with a wonderful husband and her two young children who’ll now live without a mother. But I feel extremely lucky and grateful to have met her and know that our friendship will always hold a special place in my heart. I know one day, I’ll get to meet her again very soon, and that lessens the pain of her loss. Until then best friend, I want you to know I love you so much and can’t wait to see you again.

If you’re reading this post, if you can, please donate to the Go Fund Me page me and a couple of her friends have set up to help her husband and kids during this difficult time or donate to your local cystic fibrosis organization in honor of my best friend’s memory.

My heart is hurting, but I’m glad my dear friend isn’t suffering anymore.

Turning the Page on Life To 26

birthday cupcake image

Hello everyone! I hope you’re all having a wonderful week so far. So, January 14th is my birthday and this year, I turned 26.

When I was younger, I used to make such a big deal about my birthday. I’d get all excited every time it came around to the point where I’d tell other people it was my birthday just so someone would wish me a wonderful day.

Well this year has been a little different for me. For once, I was more relaxed about it being my birthday and not making as much of a big deal about it. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve come to the realization that it’s not something I need to make such a fuss over. That if someone wants to wish me well, they will and if they don’t then on well.

Either way, this year I felt calm about it being my birthday and just took the moment to enjoy the day no matter what happened. I was at work all day and it was busy because of payroll being due for me to turn in so it came and went quickly.

While I’m another year older, I don’t feel that much different than any of the days before. I feel like just the same person that I’ve always been and that not too much has really changed. But at the same time, I feel happy with where I’m at in my life and that there have been some changes that I’m proud of.

For starters, I’ve acquired a new job that’ll put me in the right direction in life. Not to say working in food service isn’t a noble thing, it just isn’t where I picture myself working for the rest of my life. At first, I wasn’t sure what to think of this job because I originally wasn’t doing well at it my first couple weeks. But now, I feel like I’ve gained my ground and am starting to adjust to my job responsibilities and handling whatever tasks get thrown at me. If anything, I find I’m busier now than when I started out due to us hiring more employees and being given more responsibilities by my boss. I see this as a positive thing because I believe they wouldn’t give me more work if they weren’t happy with the way I’ve been handling things. While I don’t know where this work experience will get me in life, I’m extremely thankful for this opportunity and to get the experience.

I’m also thankful/happy because I have a poem published in an anthology. I know I’ve already talked about this quite a bit, so I probably won’t say too much else about it, but I’m still excited that a poem I’ve written is physically in a book that people can buy and read. One of my dreams is to one day be an author who writes her own stories and gets published. And I feel like with the anthology, I’ve accomplished my dream of being an author even if it’s just having one poem I’ve written getting published. While I hope that’s not the only piece of writing of mine that’ll be read, I still want to continue pursuing that dream and having more of my voice going out into the world. I know my blog here on WordPress also helps me accomplish some of my writing goals so I’m extremely thankful for that too.

All of this I accomplished when I was 25. So, I can’t wait to see what 26 has in store for me. Hopefully it’s as wonderful as being 25. I’m hopeful that it could be another great age but will wait and see what life has in store for me.

 

Back to Blogging (Hopefully)

Back to Blogging Fall Image

Hello everyone! I hope you all have been doing well and I’m sorry I haven’t written anything on here in so long. I know it’s been a month since I’ve last written a blog post. It’s just that life for me has been super busy because of my new job. I’m still getting accustomed to the new hours I’ve been working, plus I’ve already traveled twice during my three weeks in this position. The first time I traveled to Ohio for my training, and then a week later I was asked to attend time keeping training in Pennsylvania for the new time system we’ll be using for our time sheets.

On top of all of that, I then thought I was sick with a cold. But it turns out it’s my seasonal allergies that randomly make an appearance just when the last medication I take expires. My seasonal allergies first started for me whenever I was in college living on campus 30 minutes away from home. I don’t know what exactly changed, just discovered that my throat gets itchy and all whenever the seasons change. But it’s never consistent so I never know if it’s actually my allergies or if I’m sick. So I’ve been dealing with an itchy throat, stuffy nose and headaches on top of adjusting to my new position and getting accustomed to earlier hours.

As a result, I just haven’t had the energy or the time to write on my blog like I’ve been wanting to. And I feel pretty bad about it because I’ve already canceled a post I was really committed to writing for one of my blogging friends. I was really excited about writing this post, about this opportunity, but these past couple weeks have just gotten away from me and I wasn’t able to complete the post like I wanted to. I know she understands and all, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling bad that I didn’t complete the post like I wanted. I know they’ll definitely be more opportunities to guest post in the future, but I don’t like letting those chances slip away from me.

While I’m glad that I have this new job opportunity and to see where it takes me, I’m sad that I haven’t been as active on my blog recently. But with adjusting to new hours comes me having to change the time I write on my blog. I don’t know yet how often blog posts will be, but I’ll try my best to stay as active on here as I used to be. I think it essentially depends on how I feel once I leave work, whether I’m up to the task of writing on my blog or not.

For now though, I’ll take it one day at a time just like with my new job. I find that overall this job has been okay so far. I’m still fairly new so I’m still learning how things work around there and what’s expected of me. I know there’s a lot I could improve on with myself in this position, but since I’m still learning, I need to cut myself a little more slack. I don’t know yet how I feel about the job overall, mostly because it’s office work and that’s not something I necessarily enjoy doing. But with this job, I’m definitely gaining more experience and feel like I’m heading in the right direction with what I want to do. I just need to stop over thinking every little thing I do and I believe I’ll be fine once I get really into my new position. I’m extremely thankful for this opportunity and while this job is only supposed to be a temporary position, I’m hopeful that it could turn into something more for me when I can prove myself a valuable asset to the company.

I hope moving forward to continue writing more posts on my blog. But for now, I’m trying my best to enjoy this new opportunity and adjust to my new hours. I’ll write blog posts whenever I feel inspired and have the chance, but it might not be as frequent as I used to. So until my next post, I hope all of you are doing well and would appreciate hearing back from you in the comments about what you’ve been up to. Take care and happy writing!

A Personal Blog Post

A Personal Blog Post LogoHello everyone! It’s been awhile since I’ve put up anything personal here on my blog. I think the last time it was one of my coffee posts, due to feeling like I couldn’t really keep up with doing one once a week.

But I have some good news to announce that has happened to me. Something I’m really excited about, that I feel like I can no longer contain within myself anymore. So I feel like I need to write about it too in order to put into words exactly what I’m excited about.

For those who don’t already know, I’ve been working in food service since I was in college. I was hoping after I graduated I’d be able to get out of it for good. But that didn’t end up happening. Instead, I continued working in food service for these past three years since I’ve graduated, first continuing my job at my school’s dinning hall, then getting a job as a salad bar worker and server for a local deli here that has some pretty good food.

But I’ve now accepted a new job. One of my friends from college works for a company that’s based in Ohio. However, they are opening a location where I live and have been looking for people to help them with their projects here. My friend and I used to work together at our school’s dinning hall so she put in a good word for me with her employer to where they’ve now interviewed me and offered me a position with their company.

A lot of my responsibilities will involve handling their payroll, working on spreadsheets, making sure new workers fill out their paperwork, pretty much I’ll be doing a lot of office work. I don’t mind it though because I feel like this job will take me in the right direction career wise. I’ll be starting my new job on October 29th, two days before Halloween.

So I’m really excited about it. I’ve been excited about it ever since I was offered the position, and can’t wait to get started. While I’m sad to leave my current job behind, I’m ready to get out of food service, hopefully for good this time. While I enjoy the job I’ll be leaving behind, I really feel like this is the step in the right direction for me. So yes, this is the good news I’ve been wanting to share with you all.

I’d also like to say one more thing before I end this post. I really appreciate my friend for letting me know about this opportunity because without her, I wouldn’t be sharing this good news. So if you’re reading this my dear friend (which I hope you do), thank you so much for telling me about this job and putting in a good word for me. Thank you for everything this job opportunity offers me moving forward and for all the advice you’ve been giving me about the position ever since I told you I was offered the job. I also would like to add that I’m excited we’ll be working together again friend and can’t wait for us to get together again soon.

I’m just so thankful to get this opportunity and I wanted to share that with you all.

I hope you all are having a good day and happy writing!

Confessions of A Writer #7: I Love Writing Poetry Too

Robert Frost Poem Image

As someone who deeply loves the written word, one of my favorite ways of expressing emotion is through poetry. So it should come as no surprise that I love writing poetry too.

Poetry is a form of many expressions, from anger to happiness. All it takes is only a few lines for poetry to move me.

I especially love reading poems out loud. I feel whenever I read a poem out loud, I can better hear the flowing rhythms of each line and how they connect to each other.

I love both reading and writing poetry because I feel like it’s a simple way of getting my feelings across. While my emotions in poetry don’t always get expressed the way I want them to, I still find it to be a nice way to write your feelings down.

Since I love poetry so much, I have a couple poems I’ve written and posted here on my blog. My favorite ones include “I Walk Alone,” “Cheating” and “Guarded,” “Victory,” “Welcome Home,” and “Forgiveness.”  I feel like each of these poems I wrote came straight from the heart and are full of the exact emotions I wanted to express.

What about you? Do you love poetry too? If so, are there any poems you’ve written that you’d really like to share? Or are there any poems written by someone else that you wouldn’t mind sharing too?

Three Years of Blogging and There’s Always Something New to Learn

Three Years Blogging Image

On July 28, 2015, I started my blog here, not knowing how much my life would change. I didn’t realize starting this blog how much I’d enjoy writing on it, using my words as a way to express how I feel about a book I finished reading or a video game I was currently playing.

I didn’t realize in 2015 that I would find myself a writing community that I could call home. A place I could go to whenever I had books I wanted to discuss and read other’s talking about similar things as me. I didn’t realize I’d find a place full of people I could relate to even though life was taking us on separate journeys.

Three years later, and I still feel like I’m learning something new when it comes to blogging. In my third year of blogging, what I’ve come to discover is that I’m learning more about myself as a blogger.

These past couple weeks I haven’t been doing quite as much writing as I’d like. I think a lot of that is because I’ve been dealing with a lot emotionally and needed some time away to just reflect and take a break from writing until I felt like I had something I could write about. As a blogger, I’ve come to realize that giving yourself a break from your blog every now and then is okay. Especially if you have a lot in your personal life you’re trying to deal with and can’t focus on writing anyway.

I’ve also come to realize during my third year of blogging that I can write posts that others can relate to. I see this through both of my Confessions series where I talk about the things I do as a writer and reader. Knowing that people in the WordPress community can relate to what I’m writing makes me as a blogger/writer happy. It makes me feel like I’ve finally found a place where I can be myself and others will accept me.

Three years later and there’s always something new to learn. But as long as I have this blog, I believe anything is possible. Thank you to everyone who’s been following my blog from the beginning and everyone else who’s following my blog too. I know I definitely couldn’t have made this all possible without all of you. I look forward to continuing my blog and writing more posts that all of you will enjoy.

Confessions of A Writer #6: Writing Helps Me Heal

Confessions of A Writer #6 Writing Helps Me Heal Image

Whenever I first started writing, it wasn’t for the purpose of writing about the real-life situations I was going through. It was because I enjoyed it and I wanted to see where my passion would take me. It wasn’t until later on when I really got into writing via my journals and my blog that I quickly realized that writing was a way for me to heal.

For me, not only do I enjoy writing, but I also use writing as a way for me to get my emotions down. Whenever I feel sad, angry, upset, etc., I use writing as a tool for me to talk about whatever’s bothering me. I’ve found that doing this allows me the opportunity to let my feelings out instead of keeping them bottled inside, which essentially helps me feel better long term.

I also find writing helps me come to terms with certain things I’ve dealt with in my life. Life isn’t always easy, and having the chance to write down my thoughts and feelings whenever they strike me leaves me feeling better than before. It leaves me feeling in a much better emotional state of being and allows me to tackle on the world.

Writing is a way for me to heal. It’s the one thing that’s constantly helped me whenever I’ve needed it, no matter what’s going on in my life. It allows me to validate my feelings when nothing else can.

Writing is a personal journey for me, especially when it comes to writing here on my blog. Whenever I’m writing these blog posts and someone comments on what I’ve written, I know I’m not alone. It’s empowering, and I feel like it allows me to let my emotions out even further because I know someone in the world relates to what I’m saying, what I’m feeling. I then want to let that person know they aren’t alone, that I’m here and I know how they’re feeling.

There’s a whole community of us writers out there and I’m happy I get to be a part of it. Even if my community within it is small, I’m glad writing has become such an important part of my life. Because I don’t know what I’d do without it.

Writing has allowed me to open up, allowed me to express so many emotions, to let go. Writing helps me heal, and I don’t know what I’d do without it in my life.

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