This is What I’m Reading – The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

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Blurb:

Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive, and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in her family’s closet tear them apart?

Meh.

I was slightly disappointed with TASOAH, probably because I spent ten dollars on it and I almost never spend ten dollars on books especially when a thing like bookbub exists. But I liked the premise and it had pretty good reviews, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

Meh.

I almost didn’t post this because it’s not something you simply *have* to read and it’s not so terrible that it’s worth talking about. It’s… an okay story. The insta-love kind of killed it for me because the one thing I love about romances is the build-up. I like the actual falling in love part and when two characters “just feel it” with a stare across bus seats, I’m already doubting the authenticity of everything in the following pages.

Eleanor & Park is my compare-to book because it takes the protagonists nearly a month of sitting next to each other to actually talk. In fact, they communicate non-verbally until speaking becomes necessary, and even after, they don’t start the actual romance until sometime later. But I love Rainbow Rowell and the amazing honesty in how she writes realistic fiction. Everything’s not written through rose-colored glasses and that is so refreshing.

TASOAH wasn’t bad; it was just a bit predictable. The ‘bad boy’ is only bad because he’s doing something good for someone else while inwardly suffering. I mean, come on, isn’t that what all literary YA ‘bad boys’ are? Misunderstood good guys in hot costumes? And our girl is quirky (she draws cadavers and has a Morticia Adams thing going on) but is unusual to everyone other than our leading man who, as I’ve already stated, has a bad case of insta-love.

The story itself was sweet, fast paced and enjoyable for a bridge book. Was I in love with it? Absolutely not. Did I enjoy it? Sure. But would I recommend it to a friend? Depends if he or she is looking for a light read before finding their next favorite thing.

This is What I’m Reading – Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

First of all, if you don’t know who Jenny Lawson is, 😦

Not that I’m disappointed in you. I’m not. I discovered her through a friend who suggested her debut novel, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, and that was a good few years after her pretty popular blog, thebloggess has been online. So I’m behind the times too, just like everything else in life.

I might’ve mentioned her, her book or her blog to a few of you. And I did that because I care. Because there’s (not to get too corny) something magical about reading Jenny Lawson, something that makes you admit to the awkward truths in life and laugh along with them because hey, it’s life, right? Shit’s going to happen. But I’m not going to advertise for her first book here (even though I sort of already did, and you should read it. It’s flipping amazing) or her blog which she maintains on a regular basis—way more than I do mine—but her latest book, Furiously Happy.

FH Cover

I’m blessed enough to say that I don’t suffer from depression. Not to the degree that it affects my day to day life. I do get depressed (like most human beings) and okay, sometimes those bad thoughts creep in that suggest physical pain is better than whatever is going on in my head. But I tell them to shush and I look at my wrist, a personal reminder that whatever is bothering me is not the end of things:

Tat

Yes, I like John Lennon. Yes, I like the Beatles. But the three words suggest more than singing along to the popular song of the most popular band of all time. It suggests a belief that God will take care of everything I can’t. And that helps when my wrist looks like a really good way out, or at least, a way to handle what I don’t think I can.

But this blog isn’t about me; it’s about Jenny Lawson’s second book, Furiously Happy, which talks (in a most clever and humorous way) about dealing with mental illnesses like depression and social anxiety. While LPTNH is a funny memoir about funny things that have happened to her, FH dives deeper into the struggles that come with living with crippling mental disorders. I’ve talked about my fear of getting lost in the world and so Batman usually accompanies me (like on trips to NY for the Writer’s Digest Conference last year—woohoo!) but this is an actual phobia for Jenny Lawson, who, while air-traveling, isn’t afraid of the plane crashing or malfunctioning, but of getting to the airport, around the airport, or taking a taxi to the hotel. Most peoples’ non-worries terrify her and end up taking a physically exhausting toll. In a way, she fears the outside world and interacting with it, which is something we have to do, like all the time. I can’t remember the names for her disorders (I could go back and check the book—it’s all in there) but she also suffers from body image issues, self-harm and severe anxiety and paranoia.

But SHE. IS. HILLARIOUS.

I don’t think I’ve read anything so comically honest about such a dark topic while feeling cheered up about myself and the specks of familiarity I’ve seen in my own life (we artists are a crazy bunch). Not only has Jenny Lawson been blatantly truthful about her personal struggles, but she offers the one thing we need to remember when we feel at our lowest: we are not alone. Through her blog (and books) Jenny Lawson reminds folks suffering from the same mental illnesses that they are not alone in their plight. There is a tribe of us (some more affected than others) who see the dark as much, if not more, than the light. BUT IT’S OKAY. We have the option—the choice—to be furiously happy.

There are *so* many good parts in this book but one worth sharing:

FH lines1

…and because of the dark, she found the light…

I could go on and on about her, her books and her blog but I think you’ll get a better idea if you simply check them out. They may be for you. They may not be. But if you know someone suffering from depression, social anxiety, self-image, self-harm or paranoia, I *highly* suggest you pass along her name. Could be the best thing you do this year.

FH info 1

Well, Goodreads, that’s one book read in 2016 (I’m going to meet this yearly reading challenge, you bastard). I have a few ideas of what to pick up next but I’m always open to suggestions.

Anyone have any?

This is Our Year IWSG

It’s (somehow) the first Wednesday of the month which caught me off guard because I was all “it’s still mostly December” and then someone shoved a calendar in my face and all of a sudden it’s January of 2016. Whoa. Just whoa.

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This is my first (albeit short) post for IWSG this year and I use it to welcome, encourage, persuade, invite and insist that all of you closeted writers who have not yet joined this amazing blog hop to go ahead and jump on board the train. You may have been wondering if you should do it, if your writing is up to par or if you think you’ll be chased away with pitchforks by grammar Nazis and bastardy beta-readers. You won’t. We encourage here. We support. We help keep you on the path to that goal you really, really want to achieve. So stop hiding behind your keyboard and come out and join the party. This is totally your year. Start it right.

Am I insecure? Always. It’s part of the deal of being human, unfortunately. But at the current moment I am (surprisingly) relaxed and not having a total panic attack over what I want to do with my life and knowing there’s no real blue print of how to get there. Give me a few hours and I might be singing a different tune. Probably a dirge.

But it’s okay, because I’m not alone. You’re here. And so are you. And you. And all of you non-writers taking the time to read this post about crazy people who are obsessed with putting words in the right order. Your support means the world to me–seriously, more than you’ll know.

This is going to be a good year. I know it. 2015 kicked major ass and that was only the pre-season. Some come on, 2016. Bring it. I’m ready to kick it up a notch.

Aren’t you?

 

Hello Online Media. Now I’ve got an Instagram

It must be the twilight zone because I now have an Instagram.

Me.

The not-really-a-social media-person-person.

This blog was like, a big step. Two years (I think?) and I’m still wary about what I put up, how much content to share and if there really are people hiding in the bushes. Not because I think I’m like *totally* stalkable (even though I am, and have been) but it’s the personal information thing. The, “oh she posted that one picture of her window and using my dope techie skills, I now know where she lives” thing. It’s shit like that that really freaks me out, especially since I’m pretty sure the government watches me through the television. Batman thinks I’m paranoid. I’m not paranoid. I’m cautious. The less people know, the less they can use against you and all that. But when you’re trying not to fade into the shadows, it’s difficult to keep up with others since it’s sort of a necessity in today’s society.

I didn’t want to get a blog when I did. But everything I read said I should engage in some form of social media if I want to make it. I’ve got to have an online presence or I don’t exist. There went my sitting in the back of the class, hoping the teacher didn’t call on me. And now you’re saying I HAVE TO ENGAGE WITH PEOPLE? TO LIKE, BE SUCCESSFUL? Damn. Damn, damn, damn. It’s not been terrible, I admit. But still. Damn.

Anyway, Batman and I had Appa at the vet Saturday and I took (what I think) was the cutest picture of him (the dog—not Batman) and had to share it with someone, so I sent it to my sister and mom. Ahem:

Appa at the Vet

Look at that face. How is that face not to be shared? It is obviously *totes* sharable. Wanting everyone else to fall in love with him like I have, I broke down and joined Instagram. So far, Appa dominates the photos but I feel I’ve slipped another toe into the rest of modern society. I’m not a full blown social-median, but at least I’ve poked my head a little further out from behind this rock. I get points for that, right? The answer is yes, I get points for that.

And since everyone’s writing their yearly goals—and apparently I’ve succumbed to a sharing mood—I’ll join the convo:

Goal 1: Publish Crusade Across Worlds, Book 4 of Arizal Wars.

Goal 2: Market/learn to market/pay someone to market/rent a blimp with the book’s title and fly it around book conventions. Or do all four.

Goal 3: Enter more competitions/anthologies/ get my writing out there.

Goal 4:  Go to another writing/reading convention and make friends/connections. Either will do.

Goal 5:  Actually reach my Goodreads reading goal of 25 books (I’m feeling more optimistic about this one).

Goal 6: Learn to play Hallelujah on the keyboard I’ve been neglecting. (Dad, I’m finally making use of this gift. Only three years late!)

Goal 7: Keep up the positivity / continue to say no to stress and worry. They solve nothing.

I’m sure there are more goals I want to achieve but I’ll figure them out as I go. Plus, seven seems like an attainable number and as I’d like to reach each finish line, I’ll start with these. What about you guys? Anything you want to accomplish in 2016? Are you going to join modern society with social media a bit more like me? What do you visualize for yourself for the next twelve months?