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.