Books

The Girls at 17 Swann Street: The Power of Support

the girls at 17 Swann street

The Girls at 17 Swann Street

By: Yara Zgheib

“The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries and the ice cream…”

After years of anorexia and depression Anna, weighing just 88 pounds, seeks treatment at a group home.

This was a hard book to read because being in Anna’s head hits close to home but I also think it’s incredibly important.

Continue reading “The Girls at 17 Swann Street: The Power of Support”

Books

Addiction, Marriage & Falling Apart

Adele

Adèle

By: Leila Slimani

Grade: C+

Okay, I admit the only other book or film I’ve watched about a character with sex education was Shame and while I thought it was really good I didn’t exactly watch that for learning purposes, you know? So I can’t speak to how this book deals with sex addiction per say but I think anyone whose dealt with any kind of addiction will recognize a lot in here.

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Movies

A Strong Debut: The Party’s Just Beginning

the party's just beginning

The Party’s Just Beginning

Directed By: Karen Gillan

Grade: B

I was super excited to see Karen Gillans writing and directorial debut show up on iTunes. I’ve been a huge fan since her Amy Pond days so I really wanted to check this out and support an actress I love going behind the camera (and writing!)

I think it’s a really strong debut a character study that will stick with me but I can’t say I loved it.

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Books

Embrace Your Monster & Your Life

my favorite thing is monsters

My Favorite Thing is Monsters

By: Emil Ferris

Grade: A-

My Favorite Thing is Monsters tells the story of Karen Reyes- a young outcasted girl who draws herself, believes herself, a monster and seeks to find out who killed her upstairs neighbor.

Karens story actually tells the story of several different people set around her somewhat chaotic life in 1960’s Chicago.

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Television

Jessica Jones

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 6.39.24 PM

Jessica Jones

Marvel/Netflix

Grade: A

The story of Marvel’s PI and would-be superhero whose life gets derailed when she runs into Kevin Kilgrave, whose power of mind control is frightening enough without the fact that he’s a complete and utter sociopath. She thinks she’s broken free of her time with him when the case of a young missing girl called Hope brings them both back into each others sight lines.

Only to find out she never really left his.

Mind control freaks me out but even so I did not think I’d enjoy this one as much as I did. I have to admit that I couldn’t binge like so many other people did. You’ve got a couple of episodes (mainly 8,9, 10 & 11) that were just so tense and so brutal and dark that I needed breaks before and after watching them.

Krysten Ritter and David Tennant are so good. Tennant plays Kilgrave, and I totally saw a Doctor Who resemblance in a couple of scenes. Purposeful? I don’t know. The whole cast was excellent. Trish Walker was probably the best surprise in terms of character.

The friendship between Jessica and Trish is really a standout here. You saw the deep bond between them and the importance Trish held in Jessica’s life even in the beginning when she was pushing her away. The flashbacks to their childhood were not overplayed or out of place. Carrie-Ann Moss is also excellent though her side story seemed a bit out of place I really loved it toward the end. (I don’t want to give away spoilers.)

The show really is a great character study- people making moves under the worst stressful situations. Are they wrong? Right? Would you do the same thing? Can you say they are bad people? There were just so many times when the episodes hit their stride around eight that I was just glued to the television.

As for Kilgrave I think the show did a great job with him. I couldn’t help compare him to certain other shows where the “villains” have to have shades of grey or be understood. (Yep, thinking of you Game of Thrones.) We don’t even really meet Kilgrave until a couple of episodes in. The show introduces him through his victims and never lets up. You see the damage and destruction he causes so much so that even when you meet him and even though Tennant is incredibly charismatic my stomach was turning.

Even better when the show does give you some back story it doesn’t excuse him or let him off the hook. It was almost refreshing to see. When he does try to bring up his issues with his parents I wanted to cheer Jessica when she told him he wasn’t a child anymore and needed to grow the hell up.

Tennant and Ritter are fantastic together (sick and twisted but fantastic acting wise). That dynamic along with Jessica/Trish really made the show for me.

Downsides? There are some dragging moments and the characters and actors for Simpson and Cage didn’t really do anything for me. I understood the point of them but honestly at a certain point I was just done with Simpson and when Cage showed up after a long absence it was like, “Eh, you. Okay…”

Recommend: Yes. I would just warn that if you aren’t familiar with the character this story deals with some really brutal and dark stuff.

Books

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

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Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Author: Matthew Quick

Genre: YA Serious

Grade: A

It’s Leonard Peacock’s eighteenth birthday. He has big plans. He’s going to deliver gifts to the four people he considers important to him. Then he’s going to off his former best friend Asher and kill himself.

It feels like sometimes subject matter you want to stay away from has a habit of finding you. Or maybe you find it because you need it. I wasn’t big on starting this book but I’m really glad I did. Leonard Peacock is not the easiest character in the world. You feel sorry for him because no one remembers his birthday and his parents are to say the least, not good.

He’s precocious. He’s adorable. He’s needy. He’s rude and obnoxious. In his interactions with people you can see he is both insightful and leaving a lot to be desired. Overall though I liked Leonard. Despite his intentions there was never a point in the book where the character didn’t seem believable. Probably the most moving parts throughout the book were the letters from the future that Leonard had written to himself, part of a school assignment which when you consider he didn’t want a future said a lot.

The interesting thing about this book is that despite it’s bleakness there’s still hope. Leonard’s parents might be absent but for once it was nice to see the teachers given due credit. He has a hero in Herr Silverman. But his English teacher also picks up pretty quickly on the problems and the guidance counselor at least attempts to make contact. Plus there’s his old neighbor who cares about him. He’s not alone. There’s hope here.

Also Leonard has real problems. It’s really heartbreaking to read why he’s doing what he’s doing and I liked the fact that the book doesn’t shy away from that either. Leonard needs help and when it comes down to it no one denies or belittles the fact that he might very well need a lot of it. I don’t want to give too much away so I’m going to put some trigger warnings down at the bottom that might… 

 Recommend: Yes. This book is a really well written, fast read and Leonard is a lead who keeps you engaged. It’s got horribly dark subject matter but it never loses it’s humanity or it’s hope. I might have chosen this to fill out one of the Great Imagination challenge blocks but I’m really glad I read it.

TRIGGER WARNINGS: Discussions of murder, discussions of suicide, bullying, rape, child abuse, abandonment, and drug use.