Monday, June 12, 2017

Book Review -- Poe: Stories and Poems -- A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Gareth Hinds

We all remember our first Edgar Allen Poe story. For myself, The Telltale Heart. I can still hear that heartbeat. The Raven -- I still make sure to quote the Raven nevermore. When I saw an opportunity to review a copy of this graphic novel adaptation published by Candlewick Press -- I had to jump all over it.

This book is a thrilling adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s best-known works by acclaimed artist-adapter Gareth Hinds. He translates Poe's dark genius into graphic-novel format. In "The Cask of Amontillado," a man exacts revenge on a disloyal friend at carnival, luring him into catacombs below the city. In "The Masque of the Red Death," a prince shielding himself from plague hosts a doomed party inside his abbey stronghold. A prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition, faced with a swinging blade and swarming rats, can’t see his tormentors in "The Pit and the Pendulum," and in "The Tell-Tale Heart," a milky eye and a deafening heartbeat reveal the effects of conscience and creeping madness. Alongside these tales are visual interpretations of three poems — "The Raven," "The Bells," and Poe’s poignant elegy to lost love, "Annabel Lee." The seven concise graphic narratives, keyed to thematic icons, amplify and honor the timeless legacy of a master of gothic horror. This graphic novel is slated for release on August 1, 2017

We all know that Poe had recurring motifs in his stories. That is why a key was included at the start of each story which was brilliant. The key include motifs such as angels and demons, death, guilty conscience, murder, insanity. You knew what you were getting into with each story; even if you have previously read Poe before but you truly did not understand the plot. The pictures were visually profound and blended well with each of the stories. Unfortunately I would not recommended reading this on a Kindle or iPad as the word panels and the artwork do not seam up perfectly. I would definitely recommended this book to anyone who is a lover of horror fiction as well as anyone who is a beginner Poe reader.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Book Review -- 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher


Let me preface this review with this: If you need to talk -- reach out to a friend, a loved one, anyone willing to listen. If you are afraid to do that please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) anytime if you are in the United States. It’s free and confidential.

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“When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything. . . affects everything.”

When Netflix announced that they were bringing 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher to the small screen -- the Internet exploded namely because of the content. Suicide is a very touchy subject to talk about to begin with and to take a book that is 10 years old and when published did not have the advice or ways to cope like we do now, I can understand the skepticism. A lot of people feel that this book and show glorifies suicide, does not touch on the subject of mental illness, as well as does not think about the audience at all as well as many triggers.

That is why I have decided to read the book first before delving in the television show. Plus, the book is always better right?

Firat let us get into what the book is about: Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah's pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

This book is extremely compelling - unputdownable at best- but a problem I had and that many readers have had is that the book relies on your sympathy for Hannah to effectively relay its message, and yet Hannah comes off as bratty, selfish and ofttimes over-sensitive. Many of her "reasons" are things that everyone has experienced at some point and people generally file those under "bad days" and definitely don't kill themselves because of it. I know I sure did as I was an outcast in high school. Hannah wasn't realistically suicidal or stereotypical suicidal. People like to look for clear-cut reasons that make sense. They wanted Hannah to give a good reason why she killed herself. But, in reality, it so rarely is one big reason you can point to. Most of the time, the little things all build up, day after day, one small thing after another, until the little reasons all blend into a single feeling of hopelessness. That is what this book is about. Plus it's also about taking responsibility for your actions and understanding how your small selfish acts can affect someone else. I felt so bad for Clay while reading this book. But I had an issue -- especially with the revelation about him, and the way he viewed the truth about Hannah. Clay changes his mind about Hannah based on what he hears and decides she did not deserve the treatment she did due to rumors. But - would she have deserved the treatment any more if she had done what the rumors said? I wish the book had taken the opportunity to address that. I do want to say I don't think this is 100% the best book in the world for depression/suicide, but I do believe it is an interesting narrative on how suicide impacts those affected, considering suicide is never a singular action.

If you are on the fence about reading/watching the television show due to what you have heard -- do not let that affect you. Give it a try. I did and I am glad that I did.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

39 Things to Do Before I turn 40

39 years of age.

Today, I am 39 years of age.

How in the heck did that happen? Just yesterday I was 5 years old, sitting in my living room, playing with my Masters of the Universe action figures. Now I am 39 years of age, with a real career, friends, love in my life, money in the bank, and now playing with my Masters of the Universe action figures in my bedroom. But as a woman, the cry of "Oh my Goodness I am turning 40!" is something to be afraid of and to not embrace. We, as a society, have been conditioned to be afraid of turning this number. That being 40 is a plague of some sort. Remember Sally’s meltdown in When Harry Met Sally?

Sally: [Crying hysterically] And I’m going to be 40!
Harry: When?
Sally: Someday!
Harry: In eight years!
Sally: But it’s there! It’s like a big dead end!

Only it is not the end for me. I’m not dreading turning 40. Not at all. I am running towards it at warp speed. I would be perfectly fine to fast-forward through my 30s because they have been a mess. I’d love to start fresh with this new decade. I’d really love to find some deep pockets of confidence and self-awareness. As today is my day of born (Thank you Matt Hardy), I thought to myself -- hey I like lists. Bucket lists in fact. I looked online for some ideas and immediately laughed. These goals are certainly not anything I could achieve with the time I have before I turn 40! For example: “compete in the Ironman Triathlon,” (yeah. You are talking to a person who dreads exercise, even though she loves to swim.) “travel across Europe by train on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express,” (Um, with the way trains have been derailing lately? Yeah no thank you. I want to live past 40 -- not die at 40) and “go yachting in Monaco or St-Tropez,” (With what boat?) Clearly I needed to create my OWN list, a practical list, a manageable list, a list just right for a geek bookworm teacher without an unlimited budget and private jet. After all, who wants to feel like a failure on the cusp of 40?! So here we go -- Here are my 39 Things to Do Before I Turn 40. I will update this as I do it throughout the year.

1: Watch the movie “This is 40”
2: Go to the Central Park Zoo.
3: Get my lion cub tattoo touched up/redone.
4: Get a new tattoo.
5: Have a romantic picnic and visit an art museum.
6: Do the MP3 Experiment or another flash mob experience through Improv Everywhere.
7: Have a spa day at Bliss with a girlfriend.
8: Get a professional makeup lesson.
9: Buy new bedsheets.
10: Submit one piece of poetry to a magazine.
11: Name a star.
12: Take a hip hop dance class.
13: Write more letters.
14: Read 5 books I don’t want to read. (Moby Dick, War and Peace, etc)
15: Continue to accentuate the positive in life.
16: Write a sentence every day for a year (March 29, 2017 - March 29 2018)
17: Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
18. See Hamilton on Broadway.
19. Try a lipstick color that is outside my comfort zone and wear it out for one full day.
20. Spend an entire day offline.
21. Grow a plant from seed and watch it grow.
22. Forgive your frenemies and move on. I am only hurting myself by holding on to grudges. Stop letting them have power over me.
23. Go back into studying French.
24. Lose 39 pounds.
25. Learn how to embroider.
26. Take a fancy cooking class.
27. Complete an art class.
28. Break at least one bad habit.
29. Go visit a psychic.
30. Write my will.
31. Hand out a $100 bill to a homeless person in need.
32. Get my upper right ear re-pierced properly.
33. Buy a Canon DSLR, read the manual, and set up some photo shoots.
34. Learn how to cross stitch.
35. Stop judging others, more importantly stop judging yourself.
36. Take a class in something weird
37. Fly in First Class. Not Business or Business/First, but a full-fledged First Class experience.
38. Think one positive thought every day before you get out of bed
39. Breathe this all in and realize I have lived and continue to live one badass fulfilling life.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017 Goals and the Mantra of Spread the Love

Like I do every year, as well with my other blog post which I will thank Gala Darling for the inspiration, here are the questions I asked myself as a reflection of this year and writing of my 2017 goals.

1. What am I bored of?
2. What do I want more of?
3. What can I let go of?
4. What would give me peace of mind?
5. What am I devoted to?

Here are my personal answers.

1: I am bored of being taken for granted and not loved. I am bored of being neglected. Yes there were plenty of times throughout 2016 that my paranoia got the best of me as well as my insecurities which made me co-dependent but I was only reacting to the way I was being treated. I am also bored of not standing my ground and standing up for what I believe in as well as my owning my feelings. Also I am still bored of checking my Facebook to see if what I have posted or shared have been seen or commented on. I need to employ the fuck it attitude back into my life and enjoy myself more. I am also bored that I haven't taken care of me as much as I should, my insides and outsides, and committing to self-care as a practice that's necessary to me and people I care about. Oh, and I am bored with feeling guilty about it.

2: I want more love. Simple as that. More love, more positivity, more spontaneity, more appreciation, more deep joy, more nourishment. If it is toxic -- it has to go. If it brings me down, it has to go. I also will give myself permission to feel good. I don't need to earn the right to feel joy and there isn't a "joy authority" out there, with a checklist of what I must do before I can feel happier. I am enough, right now, just as I am.

3: I can let go of toxicity and negativity which I have and will continue to do so. Also I need to let go on trying so hard with people and that sometimes I need to learn to say no and that if I am having my own issues; that I can not be there 24/7 and it is perfectly okay for me to be selfish about my own self care. It also works both ways -- if I am having my own issues, which I do, I need to know that I can depend upon my friends and believe me I do know who is there for me.

4: Like 2015 and 2016 -- I think learning that just because my friends or family do not message or text or call me all the time does not mean that they do not love me. That will give me peace of mind. For some strange unbeknown reasons, I got it into my head that unless my phone is "blowing up", that I am not loved. Things/shit happen to people all the time. As long as I hear from them, I should be fine. The only thing I will say is that I am tired of the constant initiation I need to do or the lack of attention I receive. If I took the time out to send you a message say hello, get back to me somehow. Do not leave me hanging. That is a pet peeve of mine. Also, It's OK to walk away sometimes. Not everything is supposed to work out.

5: I am devoted to taking care of myself and to loving myself more. I need to treat myself how I treat my lovers. Kindness is a practice. I will get better the more I do it. Don't beat myself up if sometimes it doesn't come easily. Just keep practicing. I will sprinkle joy as often as I possibly can. Invest in and cherish the experiences that bring you joy.

With that being said, here are my 2017 goals. I do not say "resolutions" as I feel that word already will lead me into failure world.

Dani’s 2017(Two Thousand and Lovin’!) Goals

Starting: January 1, 2017
Ending: December 31, 2017



1. Read 60 books (0/60)
2. Watch 100 movies (0/100)
3. Invest in myself more.
4. Stop caring about what other people think.
5. Make more time for the right people.
6. Make less time for the wrong people.
7. Give myself more of a break.
8. Live more in the present. Don’t fuss over what might never happen.
9. Don’t try so hard with people.
10. Make the time and effort for those who truly matter.
11. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
12 Keep a year of memories/positive jar. Write down every time something happens to me that makes me feel good — a friendly comment, a gift I get, unexpected luck, etc. At the end of the year I will have a journal of positivity and happy memories.

13. Complete a A-Z Author Challenge.
14. Attend 5 concerts (0/5)
15. Attend 15 professional wrestling shows -- either independent or WWE.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Lets End 2016 On A High Note

Lets face it my dear readers -- 2016 sucked. It was stocked with many moments of dread, horror, and outrage that affected all of us as a collective. Most of us are in a daze, feeling completely overwhelmed, and for certain feel that 2016 was a travesty. I am so looking forward to throwing away my old calendars as soon as the clock and ball drop at midnight but before I do -- I read this great article from my radical self love guru Gala Darling which encouraged me to take a step back and look at the year for what it truly was. Nothing is wholly bad or perfect and therefore many bright spots in my year. In her article, she asked 10 questions and below are my answers for them. But first a quote from another inspiration of mine -- Sophia Loren: “It is a good reason to talk to yourself, to ask yourself what you have been doing, what you are doing and what you will do. Girls who can’t go off and talk to themselves stay girls and never become women. Women who can’t take stock turn to drink, take pills or worse, but I can take stock. I can send for the bill of life and add it up too. If I ever feel depressed I consider what I have done and what I have accomplished — starting from nothing and arriving now with so much happiness.”

The truth is -- most of 2016 I was either living in a circle of drama, walking on eggshells with a lot of people, or going on autopilot. I think is why I am in crisis mode a lot of the time nowadays -- I haven’t been continually assessing, planning, and course-correcting. However, I am trying to change that by looking at honestly at what’s going on and make adjustments, then making sure where I will end up and where I want to go. So with the being said...lets get on to the question and answer portion of this latest blog.

WHAT WERE YOUR TOP FIVE MOMENTS OF THE YEAR?
1. Definitely one of my top five moment of the year was finally being promoted to a full fledged teaching position. I do not have my own class per say but I am finally get paid the right salary for all of the hard work I have done and will continue to do for the future of America.

2. Creating a tighter and more close knit bond with Veronica. She is simply amazing. There are so many things I could say about her but she knows how I feel. Also getting to meet my new nephew was a big moment.

3. Getting into the band Postmodern Jukebox and seeing them live in Radio City Music Hall. It brought out the creative muses in me.

4. Getting back into what I enjoy, especially independent wrestling. I stopped going to independent shows in 2013 simply because no one wanted to go with me or no one had an interest. That should have never stopped me. I learned and experienced Pro Wrestling Magic and brought myself back to Ring of Honor and Jersey All Pro Wrestling and I was in my element and glory. I must never forsake myself again.

5. The announcement of Nerd Herders Radio returning to the air on Filling the Void network. I missed giving book recommendations and talking about books. I can not wait to get back to saying The Book is Better!

WHAT ARE YOU REALLY GLAD IS OVER?
--Even though it took a lot of waking up and a lot of getting my head out of my ass and realizing that I was, essentially, having battered woman syndrome without the visible bruises -- my relationship of 2 years with the man I thought was "the one". There were many red flags, many issues, many problems, and I tried my best to make it work but relationships are 50/50 and he wasn't putting his end of the bargain into it and I, in turn, became a paranoid codependent insecure person who again completely forgot herself. Now I am not going to say the demise of the relationship was all of his fault, I had my faults as well, but I was only reacting on how he was acting. I do wish that he is happy and that he has a good life.

HOW ARE YOU DIFFERENT TODAY THAN YOU WERE 365 DAYS AGO?
--Well physically, I cut my hair. That is something I did after my relationship was ended, sort of a cleansing in a way. Got that man out of my hair to be so cliche. Emotionally, well that is a different story. Most of 2016 I was a beat puppy who didn't stand up for herself, didn't stand up for what she believed in, forgot about my interests and hobbies, and overall was not glowing and was not the "Dani" that everyone I know grew to love. Now I am making sure to stick to my guns on certain things, being more open and spontaneous, and smiling.

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU ACHIEVED THAT YOU FORGOT TO CELEBRATE?
--I do not think so but will ask around to be sure.

WHAT HAVE YOU CHANGED YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON THIS YEAR?
--From talking with Veronica and other people I have changed my perspective on how to be with people. I must not try so hard. Also that relationships are 50/50 and I should have never lost the sense of who I am.

WHO ARE THE PEOPLE THAT REALLY CAME THROUGH FOR YOU THIS YEAR?
From nerdy bff's to people who bring the law when I need a heavy hit -- those are the people that really came through for me this year. Granted I bet that they all want to bash me upside my head for not thinking clearly and ignoring their advice or just plain ignoring all the red flags and signs. But for them, I am eternally grateful for bringing me back to ormal.

WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU TOLERATED FOR A LONG TIME, BUT NOW YOU WILL NOT?
--Heavy drinking that leads to alcoholism. I really should have stuck to my guns on how I will not date someone who is a heavy drinker. My family has a history of alcoholism and I have seen the unfortunate repercussions of it. Having one drink at dinner is fine, but visibly intoxicated to the point of being verbally abused in public, yeah, will not stand for that anymore. Also I will not put in all of the effort into something and get nothing in return. Whats the point?

WHAT OLD BELIEFS DID YOU LET GO OF?
--What old bullshit did I let go of: That in order for me to be in love and in a relationship, I must change to fit them. NO. A relationship should be the joining together of two souls; not the mishmash of two people to form one collective. We should be compliments of one another, make each other stronger and better and spread the love. Not beat each other down unto submission.

WHAT WAS ONE THING THAT YOU FOUND REALLY CHALLENGING, BUT CAN NOW SEE SUPPORTED YOUR GROWTH?
--It will sound weird, but my relationship that ended. It supported how strong I can be, how supportive I can be, how caring I can be. It also provided me the strength that I needed to walk away from toxicity.

IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOURSELF THIS TIME LAST YEAR?
--That he isn't worth it and that I deserve so much better in my life. That this isn't love -- this is abuse and narcissism. Get out and focus on yourself for a while.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

What Book Releases in 2017 Am I Excited About?

With the beginning of the new year -- so begins my reading goal! Every year I have a reading goal of reading 52 books in a year which equates to one a book a week. Lets up the ante this year, lets go for 60! That's right -- I will read 60 books by the end of 2017. Plus with the return of Nerd Herders Radio on Filling the Void network, I must get back into my book recommendation game because as we all know -- THE BOOK IS BETTER.

With that being said, here are the book releases in 2017 that I am most excited about.

This is the third book in Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series. Feyre returns to the Spring Court to plan the next step in seeking Tamlin’s maneuvers. But this means partaking in a deadly game of deceit that could end terribly, which means she must be careful in who she trusts. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas is set to be released on May 2, 2017 thus giving me enough time to catch up!

In this Phantom of the Opera retelling, Rune is cursed by her own voice and is sent by her mother to a Paris music conservatory that was once an opera house. But once she arrives, she discovers strange and unworldly happenings. This had me at Phantom of the Opera and Paris. Roseblood by A.G.Howard is set to be released on January 10, 2017

Another series that has grabbed me. I don’t know much about this release just yet, but it’s the third book in Kaufman and Kristoff’s Illuminae series taking place on the planet of Kerenza following Kady and Ezra after the result of an invasion and deadly plague outbreak. Illuminae Files #3 (Title Forthcoming) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff is set to be released sometime in 2017.

In what I thought was a stand alone novel...I was wrong. This sequel to This Savage Song continues the Kate and August story. Kate, a monster hunter, must defeat a monster with abilities to bring out its victims’ inner demons while on the brink of war between both humans and monsters. Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab is set to be released on June 13, 2017 thus giving me enough time again to read the first book!

Just when I think a book that I enjoyed this year was just going to be a stand alone....well here comes the sequel! The second book in this time-traveling adventure tale (Passenger is the first book) continues to follow Etta, who unwillingly traveled through time to find herself prisoner on a ship. But while Nicolas and Sophie search for Etta through time, she engages in a dangerous alliance with Julian Ironwood. Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken is set to be released on January 5, 2017.

The first book in this series, Three Dark Crowns, has been on the pulse of the Instagram and BookTube circuit for the past couple of months. It is rightfully so to be on the pulse. The second book in the Three Dark Crowns in which three siblings who possess great abilities must fight each other in a life-or-death game for the royal crown. One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake, which is the sequel, is set to be released on September 20, 2017 which, I have said before, gives me plenty of time to read the first book!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Countdown to Christmas/Advent Calendar 2016

Besides Halloween, I will admit I still get excited for Christmas time. Things just seem to be more magical in the month of December. Now this year has been extremely hard -- from the numerous deaths of legends that have impacted my life in some way to another heartbreak when I thought time and time again that I found the one only to realize I was blinded. I think this years calendar -- time to go big or go home! Lets bring some fun to the end of the year! For the fifth year in a row, I am doing an activities Advent Calendar to count down to Christmas after reading some great articles online about it. I am big on traditions so here is an outline. Most of the things will be done either by myself, with friends, or with my family. Also, just because there is a date attached does not mean it will happen on that date -- it is more of a checklist.

November 25th: Go see the movie Fantastic Beasts(Done!)/Binge watch Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life on Netflix(Done!)
November 26th Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas (Done!)
November 27th: Gather clothes and bring to The Bowery Mission. (Done!)
November 28th: Make Christmas mix CD for friends (Done!)
November 29th: Get holiday cards. (Done!)
November 30th: Wear mistletoe headband. (Done!)
December 1st: Watch the movie Scrooged. (Done!)
December 2nd: Attend Ring of Honor Wrestling "Final Battle" at the Hammerstein Ballroom (Done and I have not marked out so much ever.)
December 3rd: Wear Christmas ornament earrings, get some hot chocolate at Hu Kitchen & walk around Union Square holiday market. (Done! Crowded this year as there are a lot more food places but it is all good.)
December 4th: Watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (Done!)
December 5th: Start writing out holiday cards. (Done!)
December 6th: Get a holiday inspired manicure. Make sure one nail is sparkly! (Done!)
December 7th: Watch A Nightmare Before Christmas.
December 8th: Watch Die Hard (Done!)
December 9th: Mail holiday cards (Done!)
December 10th: Watch He-Man & She-Ra A Christmas Special/Attend the Disney holiday themed party with the Geek Girl Brunch NYC (Done and it was a magical time!)
December 11th: Get a holiday inspired candle from Bath and Body Works.
December 12th: Make Star Wars themed Christmas ornaments. (Done!)
December 13th: Go watch some ice skaters in Bryant Park. (Done!)
December 14th: Cozy up in some pajamas and watch the Pee Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special.
December 15th: Take a stroll along 5th Avenue and look at the holiday windows. (Done!)
December 16th: Attend my schools Christmas concert. (Done!)
December 17th: Go see the movie Star Wars: Rogue One (Done!)/Attend Game Changer Wrestling "Deck the Halls with Ultraviolence"(Done!)
December 18th: Make sure all of my gifts are wrapped. (Done!)
December 19th: Wear ugly Christmas sweater to work. (Done!)
December 20th: Get some chocolate coins and give them to people who make me smile.
December 21st: Watch the movies Gremlins and Die Hard
December 22nd: Watch The Original Christmas Classics (Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, The Little Drummer Boy) on DVD
December 23rd: Visit Veronica and the nephews. (Done!)
December 24th: Visit with a wolf in NYC. (Done!)
December 25th: CHRISTMAS!!! Open presents and watch The Muppets Christmas Carol.