My Wish For You

My Wish For You

Last year, I wrote a letter to my past self, the one who needed guidance in a world she wasn’t sure she would make it in. This year, I want to write to the me right now, the one in practically the same place.

This is my wish for you.

I won’t pretend you’ve been okay for a while now. It’s so easy for me to give hopes for a happier life with this positivity that I can afford for anybody by myself. They say there’s such thing as toxic positivity. I don’t want to strangle myself with these expectations and comparisons of well-being that I might not be able to achieve right away.

So. These are my three hopes for you in this next year.

A voice. I’m sorry that you’ve learned there’s safety in silence. Even though you know it’s important to speak up, you’re still navigating the complexities of communication in this age. I hope you can learn to speak your truth with honesty and compassion and without the sacrifice of health and wellness.

Curiosity. That voice that nudges you to go off on the path not marked on your map, the way you’re most comfortable in unknown cities alone to explore untethered, the pull towards learning more that leaves you with 30 tabs open for half the night. You can’t learn anything new if you don’t ask. You can’t experience anything remarkable if you remain on the path. I think we’re due for another solo trip. Take a deep breath of the air we’re not acquainted with yet.

Life. This one I thought of as we blew out the candles today, my one clinging, desperate wish: I want not just to live, but to want to. You don’t have to get through each day with a list of accomplishments. You just have to get through them. Everything else will follow. Find your light and hold it close to you.

I won’t say you have all of these superhuman qualities or lovely personality traits, because I know that in the deepest depths of your darkness, you’d never believe me. But what’s undeniable is this: you are capable. You have made it through 100% of your worst days. You will continue to.

The me of now, the me of one minute from now, the me in my last moments, we will pull through. Together.

Love,

Myself

Dear Ninth House: why did you do this to me

Dear Ninth House: why did you do this to me

I’ve started this post over and over but you know what? Here we are!!! Today I’m going to be talking about the book that completely caught me off guard: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo.


Settle in with something cozy, folks

I remember hearing about this in passing sometime last year, thinking it was intriguing, and adding it to my goodreads tbr. All I’d really retained was that it was adult/new adult and that it was dark, and to be honest, that’s about all I needed. The only other LB book I’ve read is Six of Crows, and I know she’s quite a beloved author. I thought, why not?

Then BEA and BookCon rolled around, and everyone was rushing to get an ARC. I believe it was over the summer when the reviews and discourse rolled around — and boy were opinions mixed. Some people were saying it was incredible, some people were saying it was way too dark. There were discussions about the dark content present in the novel and backlash ensued over it, saying that it was done for shock value or asking why anybody would ever write a book that contained child abuse. In my opinion, it was blown way out of proportion. Leigh Bardugo handled these situations with care; it most definitely did not feel like it was written just for the sake of being written at all to me. There’s a lot to be said about the merits of dark content, but for now, I’ll just say that if you’d like to read this book, seek out a list of trigger warnings and proceed at your own risk.

Ninth House is about Galaxy Stern (Alex) who gets accepted to Yale on the condition that she join Lethe House, a group in charge of keeping Yale’s secret societies in check. Because these aren’t just any secret societies… they’re doing some powerful magic, and Alex may be in over her head.

While this is for fantasy lovers, it’s also for the broken and mended. Most of the dark content surrounds Alex and her past. She truly goes through some horrific things. What struck me the most was how Leigh not only allowed her to survive through it all, she let her thrive through it, too. Alex is angry and wants to watch the world burn, and Leigh helps by giving her a fucking flamethrower. It’s like that. While reading, I found myself literally cheering out loud for her, hoping for the best and waiting with bated breath at every turn.

The characters were super interesting. I wanted to learn more about all of them and peel back their layers to find out what makes them the way they are. I wanted to find out what pushed Alex’s boundaries, and I wanted to squish Darlington and make him uncomfortable with my unrefined personality (affectionately, of course!) He reminded me of a slightly older Gansey!

But maybe we should talk about where I disagree with other reviews. There were numerous complaints that the beginning was confusing and boring, and that it was overall hard to understand and get through. I’m not sure if it’s because I majored in English or because Leigh’s readers (myself included!) are used to YA’s writing style, but I didn’t feel that way at all. Sure, there were moments at the start where I thought “Wait, what’s happening?” But you know where else I felt that? Six of Crows. It wasn’t until maybe 150 pages or so that I got the hang of things, and I think the same can be said for Ninth House, probably even sooner. She throws you right in the middle of the world, and I think the best way to experience it is to just keep going. Stopping and re-reading, or reading too quickly and not taking anything in, or just continuously questioning small sections will almost positively ensure you’re left behind. This is how I was taught to read denser texts in school — don’t stop, just keep pushing!

I can’t say much as to whether it was boring or not at first; I personally didn’t think it was. Even though we were just getting to know the world, it was so much fun piecing things together and I was so intrigued to see where the story was going next.

Another reason reading this book was so great was because it was a buddy read! I read it with a group of people too numerous to name right now, so I’ll just call us by our group name, the Erection Party, or:

Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 7.18.52 PM

It was so much fun being able to discuss scenes with them. We shared theories and experiences, had heartfelt talks about what it meant to be a survivor and see it play out on the page, and made a lot of jokes. I’ve never buddy read anything “officially” before, and I think it really enhanced the reading experience for me!

Since I’m not really into fantasy, and Six of Crows took me so long to get into, I was expecting to feel pretty in-the-middle about this book. But to my surprise, it contains everything I love, like ghosts and darkness and things I can’t really say here because they’re spoiler-y. All I’ll say is: that ending? This is going in a direction that is so incredibly up my alley, I can’t even believe I have to wait until 2021 for it. I unexpectedly adored this book!!

If you’re looking for a dark read that’s perfect for autumn/wintertime, I’d say give this book a shot! It could surprise you the way it surprised me~

Have you read Ninth House? If you have, was it what you expected?

   xonikee1

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Review: You by Caroline Kepnes

Review: You by Caroline Kepnes

Your lips were made for mine, Beck. You are the reason I have a mouth, a heart.

I wanted to read something creepy to get me into the Halloween mood, and so I picked up this book in hopes of getting a different sort of scare. Friends: I really got what I asked for.

You follows the story of a man stalking a woman after she walks into the bookstore he works at one day and immediately develops an obsession. The unique thing about this novel is that it’s written in a mix of first and second person, meaning that we see many sentences like “you do xyz” followed by his reaction to these words or actions written in first person. In my opinion, this was what really solidified the creepy factor of this book, especially if you’re listening to the audiobook version. Not only does this get into the main character’s head, but it allows the reader to feel the all-consuming nature of his thoughts directed at one single person.

I started the audiobook on a bus ride home with my boyfriend, and after we got home, he asked “What were you listening to? You looked like you were going through a lot.” That’s an understatement. It was so hard to sit still through Joe’s ramblings and tangents. What’s surprising was that the things that made my skin crawl the most weren’t his violating actions, but the thought processes that lead to them. What struck me was that I recognized snippets of these thoughts in people I once knew, particularly one man who decided we were dating after a few times hanging out. One of the lines in the novel — you said ‘bang’ and you said ‘Joe’ and that has to mean something — hit me so hard because it was exactly the same kind of thing that man had once said to me. The guesswork required to draw the most extreme conclusions was so upsetting to read, it was bordering on funny. Because, we all know this person, don’t we? The one who decides that another is fated for them, and they’ll stop at nothing to have them? The one who doesn’t mind a lie or two or seventy to get what they want? Maybe it’s not to the degree that it is for Joe, but we’ve all seen that sliver of something that gives us pause.

I honestly think the audiobook was a better way of going about reading this (at least for me). The narrator delivered a fantastic performance, managing to sound controlling and calculated while still maintaining the cool exterior that allows people to trust him. The book is full of sentences that sound like crazed rambles, thoughts upon thoughts driven by obsession, and the narrator reads them perfectly. He’s tense in all the right moments, frightening in his calmness and self-assurance. He thinks he’s better than everyone, and his anger and frustration comes out not in raised voices, but long-winded rambles. I don’t know about you, but this is the kind of anger that scares me the most: the quiet & expecting anger.

Needless to say, I couldn’t stop listening. I was engrossed in Joe’s twisted brain, hoping he would be thwarted while at the same time wondering how he would get out of certain situations (and subsequently being disgusted whenever he did). I saw someone say that they thought the minor characters weren’t as fleshed out, but I think that makes sense for the narrative. Joe doesn’t really care about anybody apart from himself, Beck, and the people who stand in the way of them being together; his intense attention is selective, so of course he wouldn’t give the reader as much information as he does for the characters he actually cares about, whether that be genuine care or as a means to get what he wants.

One more thing about the audiobook, though this is just a silly thought I had: the voice the narrator does for one of the characters sounded like the voice of Joey in the Yu-Gi-Oh Abridged series. Not that it was necessarily a bad thing, just kind of hysterical.

In all seriousness, though, You was such a creepy novel and got under my skin in ways I didn’t think were even possible. Caroline Kepnes really understands how easy it is to violate someone, and the ins-and-outs of manipulation. It’s definitely not an easy read, and sometimes downright disgusting; Joe is by no means a likable character, and definitely not even one that you can say you love to hate. But if you’re in the mood for something a little different, I’d definitely recommend this book.

      xonikee1

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