Book Review – ‘Reckoning’ by Magda Szubanski

Enlightening personal history of identity, country and family.

Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction, War, History

No. of pages: 400

Magda Szubanski’s childhood in a suburban migrant family was haunted by the demons of her father’s life in wartime Poland. At nineteen, fighting in the Warsaw resistance, he had been recruited to a secret counter-intelligence execution squad. His mission was to assassinate Polish traitors who were betraying Jewish citizens to the Nazis. The legacy of her father’s bravery left the young Magda with profound questions about her family story.

As she grew up, the assassin’s daughter had to navigate her own frailties and fears, including a lifelong struggle with weight gain and an increasing awareness of her own sexuality. With courage and compassion Szubanski’s memoir asks the big questions about life, about the shadows we inherit and the gifts we pass on.

Magda Szubanskiis one of Australia’s best known and most loved performers. She appeared in a number of sketch comedy shows before creating the iconic character of Sharon in ABC-TV’s Kath and Kim. She has also acted in films (Babe, Babe: Pig in the City, Happy Feet, The Golden Compass) and stage shows. Reckoning is her first book.

Magda Szubanski is an impressive woman and a magnanimous writer. Her style is beautiful, melancholic, and haunting. I was bursting with pride and envy upon reading her memoir – her writing skills are first class.

I’m not big on memoirs or autobiographies, but frequently pepper them in my reading schedule because I like to take in a wide breath of writing styles and subjects. ‘Reckoning’ first attracted me because Magda has been the one Australian actress/comedian that has been a constant with me throughout my life. I was always amazed at her work, her humour, her skills in all the endeavours she put her hand to. Then as I started to get into the memoir, I discovered that we were kin on so many other levels. Her father is Polish and served – and survived – the war; my partner is part Polish, descendant from the royal family, and served in the NZSAS, and some of the atrocities he has lived through quite frankly scare the bejeezus out of me. Magda counts herself as a part of the  LGBTQIA+ community as do I, and issues pertaining to identity, coming out, admonishing over labels and perception I can fully relate to. The loss of loved ones – check! And trying to navigate the world as a woman in male dominated industries… need I say more. Though in having said all that, ‘Reckoning’ heavily deals with history and identity of a country which was just about wiped off the face of the earth. A people who only have a history of pain, death, and displacement.

Reckoning’ is a lot to digest. It’s full of a time of humanity at its worst, mixed together with Magda coming to terms with her families role in that period, and, like a heavy sweater, something she drags around with her, trying to fit in today’s society. So I had to put this down a lot. It was emotional, difficult, and confronting subject matter. Distinctly Australian and nostalgic. But also triggering. It brought up all my insecurities again, as Magda faced hers,  and had me reliving precious childhood memories that I don’t even have the opportunity of sharing with family again because they have all passed on.

We also get snippets of her professional acting career; and not really a behind the scenes feel, but a glimpse into her emotional and mental states around those events. I loved how this is not anything like the memoirs I’ve recently read from other famous female actors and comedians. In comparison those are fluffy, feel good pieces, where ‘Reckoning’ is a soulful powerhouse.

This memoir feels more like a love letter to her father, and the Polish people. It’s about her discovering her heritage and using that as a lens to confront her own identity. Though this writing was completely unexpected, I can say with all honesty this memoir is the best of this genre I have read to date. The only down side is that it may isolate some younger readers and can get a little bogged down in history. But this is definitely a memoir I will be recommending to everyone.

Overall feeling: I stand with you…

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)’ by Felicia Day

Deconstructing feminity in a male-driven industry… plus gaming and D&D and stuff.

Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir

No. of pages: 272

From online entertainment mogul, actress, and “queen of the geeks” Felicia Day, a funny, quirky, and inspiring memoir about her unusual upbringing, her rise to Internet-stardom, and embracing her individuality to find success in Hollywood.

The Internet isn’t all cat videos. There’s also Felicia Day—violinist, filmmaker, Internet entrepreneur, compulsive gamer, hoagie specialist, and former lonely homeschooled girl who overcame her isolated childhood to become the ruler of a new world… or at least semi-influential in the world of Internet Geeks and Goodreads book clubs.

After growing up in the south where she was “home-schooled for hippie reasons”, Felicia moved to Hollywood to pursue her dream of becoming an actress and was immediately typecast as a crazy cat-lady secretary. But Felicia’s misadventures in Hollywood led her to produce her own web series, own her own production company, and become an Internet star.

Felicia’s short-ish life and her rags-to-riches rise to Internet fame launched her career as one of the most influential creators in new media. Now, Felicia’s strange world is filled with thoughts on creativity, video games, and a dash of mild feminist activism—just like her memoir.

I have to admit I was a massive fan of Felicia Day, mainly for her acting chops in shows like ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ ‘Eureka,’ ‘The Librarians,’ ‘The Magicians,’ ‘Supernatural,’ and ‘Dollhouse’ and the film ‘Red: Werewolf Hunter.’ I loved the fact there was another red headed actress out there making strides. I also knew she was kind of a geek, but that was the extent of what I knew of her. Delving into this memoir I became infinitely impressed with her drive and determination despite crippling anxiety and depression. She has two degrees, and effectively launched her own television production company (through web content.) Wowzer! What a chick.

I particularly loved how she approached each roadblock in her unique way. There was no ball-busting bitch. Day is a self-confessed delicate flower, yet she found ways to stand up against the Hollywood meat grinder, internet trolls, and financial struggles. It was such a delight to read about the antithesis of the cold, stone-faced, barren, corporate spinster women thought they needed to be to achieve success in a male dominated society.

She is pretty witty too. I laughed a few times, and enjoyed the memes she included in the books format to accompany the narrative. It wasn’t a laugh-riot, but has an upbeat quirky tone that I haven’t experienced in another memoir to date.

There is a lot of content about ‘The Guild’ and ‘Geek and Sundry’ – which is a major life achievement for her, but I was unfamiliar with a lot of that stuff, and not really into gaming, so my interest waned on the material… which is like, one third of the book. But underlying all of that content are gems and life lessons you learn as you navigate your way through self-discovery, and building a business.

I was particularly confronted towards the end around the internet hate, trolling, and doxing. Such an extreme form or bullying and so obviously done by white men throwing their opinions around and trying to tear down anyone who does not fit into the image they want them to. Felicia Day never comes out and says it directly – probably for legal reasons – but there is some plain-as-day misogynists out there in places of power, and hiding behind the anonymity of the internet that need to be checked, or simply removed from their thrones. Period. My heart bleeds for Day that she had to live through that experience.

This was a lovely read, and some of the content I could not relate to directly, but the core messages, and Felicia’s personality shine through. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone interested in acting, YouTube, gaming, or struggling with online hate. She has since published another book ‘Embrace Your Weird: Face Your Fears and Unleash Creativity’ which I am particularly interested in, as it sounds to be more focused on life-lessons and strategies for a creative driven business. Right up my alley.

Overall feeling: Brilliant insight.

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

#bookporn #coverlove

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I think Magda is an amazing woman. I love her work in the film and television industry, the causes she supports, and have met her on several occasions. You can be beautiful, intelligent and funny… and I am interested to uncover more as she explores her more personal history.

Book Review – ‘Becoming Nicole : The Transformation of an American Family’ by Amy Ellis Nutt

If you love Dreamer/ Nia Nal played by Nicole Maines from ‘Supergirl’ – this is where it all began!

Becoming Nicole Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Non Fiction, GLBT

No. of pages: 279

From Goodreads:

The inspiring true story of a transgender girl, her identical twin brother, and an ordinary American family’s extraordinary journey to understand, nurture, and celebrate the uniqueness in us all, from the Pulitzer Prize–winning science reporter for The Washington Post

When Wayne and Kelly Maines adopted identical twin boys, they thought their lives were complete. But it wasn’t long before they noticed a marked difference between Jonas and his brother, Wyatt. Jonas preferred sports and trucks and many of the things little boys were “supposed” to like; but Wyatt liked princess dolls and dress-up and playing Little Mermaid. By the time the twins were toddlers, confusion over Wyatt’s insistence that he was female began to tear the family apart. In the years that followed, the Maineses came to question their long-held views on gender and identity, to accept and embrace Wyatt’s transition to Nicole, and to undergo an emotionally wrenching transformation of their own that would change all their lives forever.

Becoming Nicole chronicles a journey that could have destroyed a family but instead brought it closer together. It’s the story of a mother whose instincts told her that her child needed love and acceptance, not ostracism and disapproval; of a Republican, Air Force veteran father who overcame his deepest fears to become a vocal advocate for trans rights; of a loving brother who bravely stuck up for his twin sister; and of a town forced to confront its prejudices, a school compelled to rewrite its rules, and a courageous community of transgender activists determined to make their voices heard. Ultimately, Becoming Nicole is the story of an extraordinary girl who fought for the right to be herself.

Granted wide-ranging access to personal diaries, home videos, clinical journals, legal documents, medical records, and the Maineses themselves, Amy Ellis Nutt spent almost four years reporting this immersive account of an American family confronting an issue that is at the center of today’s cultural debate. Becoming Nicole will resonate with anyone who’s ever raised a child, felt at odds with society’s conventions and norms, or had to embrace life when it plays out unexpectedly. It’s a story of standing up for your beliefs and yourself—and it will inspire all of us to do the same.

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I first bought this book solely on the recommendation of another book reviewer, and the fact that I enjoy diverse reads – and in this case a transgender protagonist.

Going into ‘Becoming Nicole’ without any prior knowledge, I was expecting something akin to ‘If I was Your Girl,’ but instead found I was reading a non-fiction account of a real person, compiled by journalist Amy Ellis Nutt.

To be honest the writing style and narrative was fairly stale, and resonated with hindsight and an older cis-gendered author’s perspective. Even though this is a story about triumph for transgender awareness and education, it missed the nuances had this been an ‘own voices’ book. I found the first half slightly frustrating and offensive. But as the novel encompasses a large time span, you can see the narrative change as the author herself gets more education and awareness of LGBT issues, and ultimately grows in her language, political correctness, and entrenched behaviour.

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I think the best thing about ‘Becoming Nicole’ is that it is a marvellous account of history regarding transgender rights. And as a resource. It has scattered facts of a trangendered experience from the age of 2 to adulthood. From both first person and third person viewpoints. It shows how this issue is dealt with by the individual, the family, and the community at large. The legal struggles faced by a transgender person. Slap in the middle of the national transgender bathroom debate, it brought to light a lot of things I would have never of thought of. It shows how backward people, legislation, and government can be; but also how forward thinking in the same regard.

While I am not a fan of the writing, I will say that this is an important book in regards to the fight for equal rights and acceptance that transgendered youth face. It showed just how much of a sheltered life I have lived and had me questioning: would I have the courage to put myself out there publicly like Nicole and her family to fight against discrimination and bullying. I’d like to say I would in principle. But after reading the difficulty and sacrifices the Maineses made, that thought scares the crap out of me. But the end result seemed to justify the hardship. But real life doesn’t always have a happy ending.

Becoming Nicole Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleThe biggest win for ‘Becoming Nicole’ was the overwhelming show of support for transgender rights and issues, how society and culture are evolving… and for the undying determination and positive fighting spirit of the Maines family. I’m extremely jealous of their relationship. I wish I had parents still by my side who had the insight and intelligence to see the real me. Nicole had an amazing, safe and secure homelife to give her a place of strength to draw from.

There are accounts of scientific research, social definitions, and legal terms littered throughout this tome which help the reader form a language to discuss the topic that I’ve found invaluable. There are times I’ve heard friends say something offhand that is politically incorrect or offensive but have remained quiet because I did not know what to say back with information to support why it’s not kosher. ‘Becoming Nicole’ has given me tools to just that.

This is a great book for people struggling to understand transgender issues, especially parents, but because of the writing style, a younger demographic may be put off. I think if I had known this was a journalism piece before purchasing I would not have added it to my cart, but after reading it I’m glad for the education, perspective, and proud to add it to my library.

On a side note, Nicole as a child was determined to become an actress. To see her playing Nia Nal on ‘Supergirl’ today is such a strong and resounding affirmation for the trans community and a poke in the eye to the antagonists of her story.

Overall feeling – An eye-opening account of discrimination against a minority (and identity)

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Culture of ME

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What is happening to the representation of girls in pop culture?

I was conducting a foray into the upcoming trends in pop culture because I like the content I’m writing about in my YA novels to connect and resonate with their audience. Which is a bit of an oxymoron in this case, because from what I was exposed to, books are the last thing on this demographic’s mind. Yes, this is a bit of a generalisation, but when I caught shows like Promposal and My Sweet Sixteen on MTV, I was disgusted with the amount of gratuitous wealth, and the focus of the stories being young girls who basically labelled themselves as princesses and idols with little moral substance. Even some of the upcoming Youtubers fall into this privileged background, their channels are either revolved around themselves, or what their money can buy. I’m all about self-confidence and self-empowerment – but much of this came off as selfish.

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It had me extremely worried about the future of the human race, the ecology of the planet, and as much as I write books for myself and to create something I would like to read – will there really be a market for my babies once they are ready to hit the shelves?

Every time the star of the episode or webcast opened his/her mouth, all I could hear coming out is “Me, me, me, me, me, me. Look at me.” I was hoping that I would witness some act of kindness towards their friends, some sacrifice they would make for someone less fortunate… I guess the writer in me is used to protagonists having to struggle through hardship to obtain a goal, where these lifestyle and reality shows are only encouraging a culture of mirror gazing and low self-worth. Youtube videos are turning into infomercials, rants and whines, and more I’m beautiful, I’m a star. Worship me.

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Maybe I’m just seeing the bottom end of the bell curve. The ignorance of youth. The vapid and soulless content. With technology and trends today, we see a lot of low-budget quality hitting our screens. And with immature content creators having a narrow view of the world, who are yet to find themselves, should we really be letting them broadcast this experimentation to the wider public? At least there is a lot more to choose from now, and I can speak up against all that I find abhorrent with the click of my finger in search of something more entertaining, or more educational, or more uplifting. Because pop culture can be fun! It can be hilarious and entertaining.

I could sound like some bitter old person standing out front of a house screeching and the neighbourhood children to “Get off my lawn!” After witnessing some of the low-brow productions, I’d love to launch a campaign that says, “Get some substance.” But that’s just me having a rant. Everyone is free to grow and experience the world, freedom of speech. Let’s hope some of them get exposure to wider issues and not being able to get a helicopter drop them off at the party is the biggest drama on the planet.

I realise that much of the content I’m talking about is marketed towards the 12-18 age bracket, or produced by kids of the same age on laptops and iphones. They have yet to gain perspective outside of their bedroom walls and clique at school. They have a diet of glossy magazines, talent reality shows, and famous Youtubers bringing in the big dollars. Is it any wonder that they think such notoriety is easily obtained? The hours (or years) of hard work and commitment behind the scenes has been left out of the narrative. So too has the fact that those who this next generation are trying to emulate are one in a million, trail blazers, and have built a business off of what they see. It takes smarts, support, and a lot of effort to get there. Networking. Educating themselves… well you get the picture.

So when I see the amount of money being thrown about on vanity, I can’t help but wonder if they could donate to the homeless, start their own business and offer employment to someone supporting a family, or even at least to stop and think about something else other than themselves. Though I must admit, these types of girls portrayed on the screen are the perfect antagonists. So maybe I should stop the criticism and use their traits for villains and bullies in my writing. In the ‘80’s we saw very stereotyped characters dominate pop culture, and while now there is a lot more complexity and diversity out there, we are starting to see a new wave of two-dimensional characters emerge in our media. Mass Market goods.

The Culture of ME Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleLuckily, many of the young adults I’ve chatted to about this trend view it as idiotic comedy, much in the vein of Jackass, mindless viewing ready to be picked apart and ridiculed. Why applaud this critical viewing, I wonder if is not supporting a culture of “reading” or “throwing shade” because it populates a negativity. Bring back the Spice Girls I say, I want fun, bright colours, a bit of cheekiness and lots of girl power.

 

 

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Love and Loss and Writing

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Love and Loss and Writing Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleI often wonder if Mum felt the way I did when Grandma died. I mean, I was there, and she was obviously devastated, but Mum picked herself up and soldiered on so much better than I have in losing a Mum. Maybe because we knew it was coming. Grandma was old and infirm. We’d seen her decline. And she had lived a full, wonderful and interesting life.

I lost Mum while she was still in the middle of things. She had so many unfinished plans. Her death was quick, sudden and final. One breath we were laughing, making plans for the future, complaining about our day. And the next. Gone.

It’s been years, and still, every day I miss her. Most of the time I can’t hold back the emotion and a few tears escape. These feelings have me watching other people who have lost someone close to them. They all seem to have it so much more together than I do. Better at being an adult.

Maybe I feel things more deeply than your average person? I hope that’s it.

Filling my life with purpose and love has helped dull the sting of grief. I cherish my friends, and tell them so. I hug my family. I spoil my dog. Each day I set myself little goals to achieve. I live life. Fill it with fun positive experiences. And it helps.

There are still those moments when something great happens and I want to share it with Mum. We always used to phone each other to share our news. We lived in different states, so picking up the phone was how we kept in touch. At least twice a week. Sometimes twice a day.

But now I whisper it in my mind and send it to her on the breeze. I like to imagine her close to me. Watching my life and appreciating the one-way conversations. The updates. The silent tributes.

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Grief and loss is a funny thing. A personal thing. I’m actually horrified for those with large families now. It was just me, Mum, Dad and my brother. Dad left in my teens with my brother, so Mum was really all I had. When she passed, half my life went with her. I can’t imagine living through that experience again and again. Extended families and many siblings – all that potential for love and loss. So beautifully tragic.

I can’t think like that. But I do at times. It’s always there in the back of my mind. It’s hard to let people get close to you when you’re scared of the feelings that will come flooding in when they’re gone. I guess it’s like becoming gun-shy for relationships when you’ve suffered through an ugly breakup. You want to protect your heart, but it can’t work properly if you don’t take a risk.

Life is marvelous, ugly, euphoric, and crippling. I savour every day. Breathe in every minute and am thankful for every second. Every person I meet. Life is a strange beast upon which I ride to an unknown destination. I just hope the ride is long. The scenery vast and beautiful. Filled with more love and less grief.

If anything, apart from the experience of life, it has given me tools and character motivations for my writing. I remember reading about a character who had lost someone close to them, and I don’t think I fully grasped the gravity of the words until I had my own experience. All those feelings of hopelessness, being alone, feeling lost, crushed by grief… they are all hard and dark but help juxtapose the love, light and positive experiences we also have. It has supplied me with so much more context and colour for writing.

I may have lost a little innocence, but I have gained so much more depth.

So, while I will go on missing my Mum every day, I am greatful for her part in turning me into the person I am today, for showing me love, and being my inspiration in life and writing.

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Dealing with Girl Hate in Literature and Real Life

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An observation pulled from some of my favorite novels, and experiences from my own life, shows there seems to be a lot of girl hate. Bullying. Insecurity. And there seems to be little justification behind the sudden backlash of slurs. Some chalk it up to puberty or jealousy. But it has continued through all aspects of my life, and in many genres of books. I thought I comment on some of the more prominent forms that I’ve experienced.

dealing-with-girlhate-pic-08-by-casey-carlisleEven if someone is dealing-with-girlhate-pic-03-by-casey-carlislestruggling with their size, it doesn’t diminish them as a person. In Victorian times having a little extra padding meant you came from wealth because you could afford food. Now it seems packing a few extra pounds is displeasing to the eye. Makes you unattractive. All this PhotoShop re-touching and refusal of fashion designers to manufacture larger sizes, or even display their couture on models over a size 0. Have we became so hateful towards female biology? It is a natural state for girls to carry more body fat as they get older. It has nothing to do with being unhealthy or unattractive, it’s a natural cycle of hormones and metabolism. I read this kind of hate and bullying in books too, though I’m glad that we are starting to see a movement against this stereotype (on television too) Main characters who aren’t rail-thin are starting to pop up in the mainstream. I hope this trend continues and helps to stamp out body shaming, we should be sisters in arms, not tearing each other down with fickle, narcissistic attacks.

dealing-with-girlhate-pic-09-by-casey-carlisle dealing-with-girlhate-pic-04-by-casey-carlisleAnd may other reasons. But when did having an opinion, indulging in free speech, make someone so awful? World leaders, innovators, business owners, have all struggled with nasty slurs because they stick to their guns. I actually find it attractive, if someone is resolute in their beliefs. Mental strength and intelligence breeds a fertile environment for growth. These days we see female characters embracing the term. Proud to wear the mantle of bitch. Because it portrays power. It’s not quite free of a negative image, but it’s starting to evolve into something like #girlboss instead of some foul mouth wench with nothing but negative comments spewing from her mouth.

dealing-with-girlhate-pic-10-by-casey-carlisledealing-with-girlhate-pic-05-by-casey-carlisleOr maybe she is not afraid of her own sexuality. And the sad thing is, being called a virgin can be just as derogatory. We really can’t win… Slut shaming seems to be more present in YA than other genres, girls use it to jostle for power in their peer groups, to be the alpha chick who is not to be trifled with or she’ll tear you down. There is still such a stigma with sex through the teen years, and I really wish it could be approached responsibility rather than reinforcing negative views on sex and sexuality. The trend is starting to get addressed on the television screens, but I’ve yet to read much about it in the novels from my shelves. Yes, bullying is attacked in some, but slut shaming tends to be a character trait or a storytelling device. This leads on to another element I’ve personally experienced:

dealing-with-girlhate-pic-11-by-casey-carlisledealing-with-girlhate-pic-06-by-casey-carlisleI’m five foot eight inches, so sit on the tall end of the scale, and have been called tranny or drag queen by girls in clubs as I’m walking by, or behind my back. Since when is being tall a failing – these slim models gracing our magazines are the same height – it’s just another juvenile hate-filled slur women use to make them feel good about themselves. I tend to see this trend reversed in literature. Girls are described as Amazonian, and strong, warrior-like. Someone to aspire to. This certainly does not translate to real life. I may get a rare “You’ve got lovely long legs” almost hinting that I use them to ensnare men like some black widow spider. Getting called ‘tranny’ is a big pet hate of mine, it’s doubly offensive. It’s said with the intention to make you feel less than a natural born woman, clumsy and unnatural. Which I find preposterous! I know some transgendered women and they are gorgeous, successful, intelligent, and talented women. It’s wonderful to see many book titles being released starring diverse characters on identity and sexuality. They are diffusing these kind of prejudices and hopefully will get rid of this kind of discrimination and bullying for good.

There are so many other aspects bullies latch on to, or make up, to lash out with words. You have short hair, you must be a lesbian. You like sports, or never wear dresses… You wear glasses, or have braces – metal head. Don’t get me started on being called a ginger or bluey because I have red hair. It’s pitiful to be at the blunt end of girl hate. And bullies will always find something. I’m glad to see it getting reduced in my reading choices. Readers are becoming more intelligent, more discerning in their purchase decisions when at the checkout. So it is forcing authors to develop interesting, complex and diverse characters. Tackle more politically aware subject matter and have a social conscience. Granted, it won’t stomp out bad behavior, but it is shining a light on it and forcing nasty characters to explain themselves… and that’s something I really like.

dealing-with-girlhate-pic-12-by-casey-carlisleSheesh! A dealing-with-girlhate-pic-07-by-casey-carlislegenuinely gorgeous girl can be reduced to her physical appearance. I’ve heard it said with malice many times in real life. Signalling that the target has the mental capacity of an ape – or that she uses sexuality to get what she wants. She can’t also be a kind and loving person, or a rocket scientist. No. She can’t possible have it all. There is nothing to tear her down with so let’s make perfection a failing… oh please! Women are put on pedestal frequently in books, and having all these attributes is praised, idolized even. But we see plenty of girl hate in real life. But this can also be a negative, because it reduces the character to a two-dimensional caricature.

Women, girls, PEOPLE, are complex creatures. We have motivations, hidden depths. Why do we assume so little at first glance? Why look for the hate? Why not start looking or the amazing?

I’m beginning to find novels coming out with some fantastic female friendships, especially in YA. It’s showing the full range of a character and not reducing a female to a trope or stereotype. It gives me hope that we’ll be able to reduce the amount of girl hate out there. Nasty trolls posting awful comments online, bullying, it feeds girls insecurities and can lead to feeling shame unnecessarily, fearing for your personal safety, depression, behaviors like cutting and even suicide. So let’s put a stop to girl hate and become sisters instead.

Personally, looking back over my life, I’ve been on both sides of the fence in many of these types of behavior. But thankfully, through my experiences and reading habits, I’m identifying potentially harmful behavior and words, and grow into a better version of myself.

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Why Not Me?’ by Mindy Kaling

Real life. Real empowerment. Said with a smile.

Why Not Me Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Memoir, Comedy

No. of pages: 240

From Goodreads:

In Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.

In “How to Look Spectacular: A Starlet’s Confessions,” Kaling gives her tongue-in-cheek secrets for surefire on-camera beauty, (“Your natural hair color may be appropriate for your skin tone, but this isn’t the land of appropriate–this is Hollywood, baby. Out here, a dark-skinned woman’s traditional hair color is honey blonde.”) “Player” tells the story of Kaling being seduced and dumped by a female friend in L.A. (“I had been replaced by a younger model. And now they had matching bangs.”) In “Unlikely Leading Lady,” she muses on America’s fixation with the weight of actresses, (“Most women we see onscreen are either so thin that they’re walking clavicles or so huge that their only scenes involve them breaking furniture.”) And in “Soup Snakes,” Kaling spills some secrets on her relationship with her ex-boyfriend and close friend, B.J. Novak (“I will freely admit: my relationship with B.J. Novak is weird as hell.”)

Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who’s ever been at a turning point in their life or career can relate to. And those who’ve never been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper. 

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While ‘Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?’ was a collection of random stuff that was very much like taking a peek inside Mindy Kaling’s brain, ‘Why Not Me’ is like reading her journal. Though it in not as funny as the first book, it deals with topics of more substance. I still laughed out loud in parts, but appreciated her candor and insights – and really, truly, believe Mindy Kaling is my spirit animal. Without a doubt. Full stop.

Some parts of the narrative felt a bit waffly, and Mindy tends to wander off the topic many, many times. But that is her style. She is being genuine and true to her way of addressing the world. I actually appreciated it more than in the first book because it mirrors my own thought processes. My stream of consciousness doesn’t travel in a straight line, but jump all over the place before returning to the current topic. I’m like a dog whose attention is grabbed by a squirrel. SQUIRREL!

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I liked her musings over weight and food (and it should never be an issue – but it seems as women, our bodies will always be attached to our achievements. Sad but true.) Snippets of dating and making friends. Every nerd, book lover, outlier, goes through motions of doing ridiculous things to make friends, impress people, or try to fit in. Mindy’s honesty is like casting a gaze back into my own history and recognising a kindred spirit that has done many an idiotic and incidental event in order to have someone like me. Or something inexplicably random – just because – no reason… and wondered what the hell they put in the water to make me do or say such a thing. Damn Commie Bastards!

I liked her views on confidence, bravery and fear towards the end, but the reading did not feel as compelling as it should, and left the ending feeling a little flat.

But another, quick, enjoyable read from Mindy that will help enlighten other girls, women, and gay men around the globe to stand up and go for your dreams without sham and doubt. Recommended. That is all.

Overall feeling: Mindy always makes me want to dance.

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Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Wrap up – The Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead

Got better and better, masterful platting and pacing.

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I was a little late to the show when it came the Vampire Academy Series, I purchased a box set and spread out the Rose and Dimitri goodness for about a year. I have to admit that it was the film adaptation that inspired me to pick up this collection of books. The tongue-in-cheek witty one liners and kick-ass heroine had me sold instantly.

The film didn’t get that much praise, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the silliness and mythology of the world, though it was easy to see where it failed. There is so much information in every book in this series, that the movie could not include it all in order to help drive the plot forward. I also did not get the chemistry from the couple on screen that I did in the novels.

Richelle Mead is a master of plot. The novels just kept getting better the further I got into the series. My favourite being ‘Blood Promise.’ What starts as a typical smart-mouthed teen, Rose really develops into a selfless warrior.

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I did want a little more from the end of the series though; there were many questions I did not get answers to, but I’m wondering if it will get explored further in the Bloodlines series.

An attractive boxed set that gave me many, many hours of fun entertainment and solidified Rose as one of my favourite heroines. Glad to have it in my library collection.

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.