Reading – Always Reading

I’ve added more read books to my 2015 Reading List, which you can follow on my Facebook page. For those of you who follow, I’ve included my personal definition of star ratings:

5 stars – I loved the book so much that I would read it more than once.
4 starrs – I loved the book, but I wouldn’t read it more than once.
3 stars – I liked the book.
2 stars – I didn’t like the book (and probably stopped reading it).
1 star – I HATED it (and probably stopped reading it).

1. “Styxx (Dark Hunter World Book 22)” by Sherrilyn Kenyon – I started this one at the end of 2014 and finished in 2015. I give it 4 stars.

2. “The Reluctant Vampire (Argeneau Vampire Series Book 15)” by Lynsay Sands – 4 stars. This series is good for a quick paranormal read that focuses primarily on the romance side of things. What’s most intriguing about this series is the mythology that Sands has developed to explain the existence of vampires.

3. “The Darkest Kiss (Riley Jenson Guardian #6) by Keri Arthur – I REALLY like the Riley Jenson series. Think of an Anita Blake type character, only she is a vampire/werewolf hybrid, most emphasis on werewolf. Also like the later Anita Blake series, there’s quite a bit of sexual content. However, UNLIKE the later Anita Blake books, the Riley Jenson books focus primarily on the action of the store – there’s lots of sex, but it doesn’t get in the way of the plot. I highly recommend this series for anyone who is a fan of paranormal romance.

4. “Under a Vampire Moon (Argeneau Vampire Series Book 16)” by Lynsay Sands – 4 stars.

5. “The King (Black Dagger Brotherhood Series Book 12)” by J.R. Ward – 4 stars. This is actually a low star score for me to give a BDB book. I liked the history that she gave, but not all of it seemed relevant to the ongoing story. Plus there was not enough action with the Lessers. Still, an overall good book. I will say this – if there is anyone who could take the reins of the vampire genre from Anne Rice, it’s most definitely J.R. Ward.

6. “Christopher’s Diary: Secrets of Foxworth” by V.C. Andrews – 3 stars. I admit, I expected a lot more from this one. I had really hoped that the book itself would be more focused on the diary itself, almost reading like the format of “Frankenstein” or “Dracula.” However, the main part of the story focuses on Kristin, a teenage girl who is a distant relative of the Dollanganger’s. She and her father find the diary, and it’s her reading of it that is the basis of the plot. For what it is, it’s a good story, but not a great one. I’m always a little hesitant about the newer V.C. Andrews’ books since they’re written by a ghost writer. However, they are still simple, easy YA reads.

7. “The Home and the World” by R.N. Tagore – 5 stars. This is an absolutely fantastic book. I would even give it more than 5 stars. The book focuses on many themes, mainly human nature and how it plays out not only in public life, but in relationships. The political strife of Maharaja India is juxtaposed with a love triangle, layered with personalities depicting the various perspectives of Self. If you can imagine a discussion between Buddha and Machiavelli, then you can imagine the greatness of this book. A particular note that this eloquent prose was written by a man who was a high school drop out – actually, he abhorred formal education. This is definitely one of those books that I will read again to learn even more those things that I might have missed the first time. Highly recommended!

8. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee – 5 stars. This is my favorite book of all time. When the story came out that Lee wrote a sequel set 20 years later, with Scout visiting her father, I just HAD to read it again. It’s just as good now as it was when I read it the first time.

9. “The Three Musketeers” by Alexnandre Dumas – 5 stars. I have made a commitment to read some of the classics that I didn’t read when I was younger – “The Three Musketeers” is the first. I absolutely ADORE this book. I should have read it much sooner! Action, intrigue, mystery, romance all liberally sprinkled with tongue-in-cheek comedy. I can definitely say that this is now, by far, one of my favorite books of all time! If you haven’t read it, do so – you won’t regret it!

10. “The Fellowship of the Ring” by J.R.R. Tolkien – 5 stars. I love this book. And I have read it before. An embarrassing confession – I decided to read it again because I’ve never read “The Two Towers” or “Return of the King…”..or “The Hobbit” for that matter. My re-reading of “Fellowship” is my commitment to read these other works by such a wonderful fantasy author. The world that Tolkien creates is magical and easy to disappear into – just what is needed for a mental vacation!

11. “The Lady is a Vamp (Argeneau Vampire Series Book 17) by Lynsay Sands – 4 stars. This one is just as enjoyable as the other Argeneau books. I liked this one in particular because it introduces the circumstances of a nuclear mortal family and what the turn and immortal laws mean for life mates.

12. “The Walking Dead, Volume 1: Days Gone Bye” by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore – 5 stars. If you love the show, you’ll adore the comic. Great story telling, awesome art – better than the T.V. show in my opinion.

13. “The Walking Dead, Volume 2: Miles Behind Us” by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn – 5 stars. As great as ever. Love going back over the original story and seeing the differences with the T.V. show.

14. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 9, Volume 3: Guarded” by Scott Allie – 4 stars. Love Buffy, love that the story has continued in comic form. The comic is good, just not “The Walking Dead” great.

15. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 9, Volume 4: Welcome to the Team” by Andrew Chambliss – 4 stars. LOVE the appearance by Illyria. And Willow’s back!

16. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 9, Volume 5: The Core” by Andrew Chambliss – 4 stars. Wow. Just…wow.

17. “The Sandman, Volume 1, Preludes and Nocturnes” by Neil Gaiman – 4 stars. Brilliant storytelling. The level of imagination rivals that of Clive Barker.

18. “American Vampire, Volume 1” by Scott Snyder and Stephen King – 4 stars. I admit, I’ve never really enjoyed Stephen King’s books, but this is definitely an exception. Love the subtle humor around horror vampires – no romance or sparkles here!

19. “Batman Eternal #1” by Scott Snyder, et al – 4 stars. I’ve never been the biggest Batman fan – in the DC universe, Superman and Wonder Woman were always my go-to super heroes. But I must admit, I thoroughly enjoyed “Batman Eternal” and will look to read more.

20. “Fathom, Volume 1” by Michael Lane Turner – 5 stars. Wow. I’ve had this one for a while and just now read it. This is the best one I’ve read in a long time. The art is beautiful and the character development is intriguing. Definitely going to continue the series.

21. “Injustice: Gods Among Us #1” by Tom Taylor, et al – 5 stars. Loving the story. Another one that I will definitely continue the series.

22. “Superman (2011) #1” by George Perez – 5 stars. Superman. Enough said.

23. “Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale (Serenity #3)” by Joss Whedon – 5 stars. Love it! Love the story of the Shepherd and how it was presented in a brilliant reverse character development form.

24. “Son of No One (Dark Hunter Series #13)” by Sherrilyn Kenyon – 4 stars. I truly do love this series. Particularly how Kenyon interweaves the mythological worlds of Atlantis with the pantheons of the Celts and Greeks.

25. “The Walking Dead, Volume 3, Safety Behind Bars” by Robert Kirkman, et al – 5 stars.

26. “Angel & Faith, #5, What You Want, Not What You Need” by Christos Gage, et al – 4 stars.

27. “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury – 5 stars. Wow. This book is a dystopian masterpiece! I enjoyed it more than Orwell’s “1984.” I like Bradbury’s writing style so much more. It’s not just prose. He has a rather poetic way of writing that I quite enjoy. And to think, this book was published in the 1950s! Much of the world he describes is what we’re seeing today. Amazing. Definitely one of my all-time favorite books now.

28. “The Walking Dead, Volume 4, The Heart’s Desire” by Robert Kirkman, et al – 5 stars.

29. “Serenity, #1, Those Left Behind” by Joss Whedon, et al – 4 stars.

30. “The Sandman, Volume 2, The Doll’s House” by Neil Gaiman, et al – 5 stars.

31. “Are You My Mother?” by Alison Bechdel – 5 stars. This is a remarkable story by a very gifted comic artist. The story is personal, but as she would suggest, in being person, it’s universal. As she discusses her relationship with her mother, I see a lot of my own maternal relationships – both with my mom and my daughter. This book is one of those reads that I need to process it for a while, and most likely, read it again. I highly recommend it.

32. “The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty (Sleeping Beauty #1) by Anne Rice – 3 stars. I had read this book, actually the whole series, before and was not impressed. I thought after reading the horrible 50 Shades series I would give it another try – I had first read the Beauty series in my late teens. I couldn’t even get into it. I give it three stars because the writing style is indeed skillful and lovely. The story, however, is not to my taste. As I said when I was younger, it’s nothing more than print porn. There’s a huge market for that, but it’s not what I enjoy reading.

33. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: New Rules, Season 10, Volume 1” by Christos Gage, et al – 5 stars ++. Oh. My. Goddess. “New Rules” is AMAZING. This is the first book in a LONG time that has gotten back to its roots and is truly reminiscent of the spirit of the TV show. Love it! Can’t wait until Volume 2 is released!

34. “Angel: After the Fall, Volume 1” by Brian Lynch, et al – 5 stars.

35. “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde – 3 stars. I LOVE Oscar Wilde’s writing style. I just could not get into this story. The way the plot was presented did not inspire me to care about any of the characters which made any of the circumstances they found themselves in rather lackluster.

36. “The Walking Dead, Volume 5, The Best Defense” by Robert Kirkman, et al – 5 stars.

37. “Serenity, #2, Better Days” by Joss Whedon, et al – 5 stars.

38. “The Sandman, Volume 3, Dream Country” by Neil Gaiman, et al – 5 stars.

39. “Celtic Myths and Legends” by Peter Berresford Ellis – no stars. I’m not rating this one because I actually stopped reading it. It wasn’t bad – it was written quite well, and the stories were interesting. It’s just that it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. This is one of those books that I might come back to later – my mind is just in a different place now.

40. “The Walking Dead, Volume 6, This Sorrowful Life” by Robert Kirkman, et al – 5 stars.

41. “Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom” by John O’Donohue – 4 stars. Again, this is a book that wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but I was pleasantly surprised. I quite enjoyed it. My only issue with it is that the author often repeated the same concept, just worded differently, multiple times. This approach can be quite useful for people who have difficulty understanding the concept. For those without that difficulty, it can become rather tediously redundant.

42. “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood – 5 stars. Wow. I know that some have often emphasized the satire of this book, but given the state of our world and the growing political climate, it might be more prediction than satire. The best way I know to describe it is feminist dystopia. I loved it. This classic is also one of my new all-time favorites.

43. “The Walking Dead, Volume 7, The Calm Before” by Robert Kirkman, et al – 5 stars.

44. “Christopher’s Diary: Echoes of Dollanganger” by V.C. Andrews – 4 stars. Wow. I still have some reservations about this book because of how much time is spent on the stories of the people reading the diary, but the revelations they make are quite intriguing. The ending of the book – oh, my! It was shocking, it both intrigued and made me happy…but more than anything, it has me excited for the next book.

45. “Saga, Volume 1” by Brian K. Vaughan, et al – 4 stars.

46. “Sandman, Volume 4: Season of Mists” by Neil Gaiman, et al – 5 stars.

47. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen – 4 stars.

48. “The Walking Dead, Volume 8: Made to Suffer” by Robert Kirkman, et al – 5 stars.

49. “The Undead Pool (The Hollows #12) by Kim Harrison – 4 stars.

50. “Angel, After the Fall, Vol. 2: First Night” by Joss Whedon, et al – 4 stars.

51. “The Walking Dead, Vol. 9: Here We Remain” by Robert Kirkman, et al – 5 stars.

52. “Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: Guilty Pleasures, Vol. 1” by Laurell K. Hamilton, et al – 4 stars. I liked this quite well – possibly even more than the books!

53. “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald – 5 stars. Brilliant writing! Fitzgerald’s style and turn of phrase is unmatched. Contemporary writers would do well in holding him as the standard. I know I will!

54. “The Sandman, Vol. 5: A Game of You” by Neil Gaiman – 5 stars. Oh. My. Goodness. I think this is by far THE BEST Sandman book in the series! I connected with it SO much in how I used to create fantasy worlds when I was young. I still do – I just write them down into stories and novels now. Highly recommend this series!

55. “Avatar The Last Airbender: Shells” by Gene Luen Yang, et al – 4 stars. This one was good enough that I want to read more Avatar comics.

56. “Edward Scissorhands #1” by Kate Leth, et al – 5 stars.

57. “Fight Club 2” by Chuck Palahniuk, et al – 5 stars.

58. “Jem and the Holograms #1” by Kelly Thompson, et al – 5 stars. SQUEE! This comic has SO much childhood nostalgia excitement bubbling over in me! Can’t wait for the rest of the series.

59. “Girlfiend” by Pander Brothers – 3 stars. I was quite disappointed by this one. Much of the art was really good. Although so much was going on in some panels that it got confusing. Sometimes I couldn’t even tell what was happening. The story was not interesting at all.

60. “Slaughter House Five” by Kurt Vonnegut – 5 stars. Again, this book is a classic for a reason. It’s one of the most powerful books I have read. Probably the most telling scene, to me, was the idea of what a war movie would be like if watched backwards, with the factory women disassembling weapons. Brilliant.

61. “Wonder Woman: Odyssey, Vol 1” by J. Michael Straczynski, et al – 4 stars.

62. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Omnibus, Vol 1” by Joss Whedon, et al – 5 stars.

63. “Batman Detective Comics #27 Special Edition” by Bob Kane, et al – 4 stars.

64. “Batman: Earth One Special Preview Edition” by Geoff Johns, et al – 4 stars.

65. “The New 52: Future’s End #0 Special Edition” by Jeff Lemire, et al – 4 stars.

66. “Saltwater Witch, Comic #1” by Chris Howard – 3 stars.

67. “Romeo and Juliet and Vampires” by William Shakespeare and Claudia Gabel – 4 stars.

68. “Anita Blake Vampire Hunter: Guilty Pleasures, Vol 2” by Laurell K. Hamilton, et al – 4 stars.

69. “Angel: After the Fall, Vol 3” by Joss Whedon, et al – 4 stars.

70. “The Walking Dead, Vol 10: What We Become” by Robert Kirkman, et al – 5 stars. MORGAN! 🙂

71. “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens – 2 stars. I stopped reading this one. I just couldn’t get into it. The story didn’t pull me in like others.

72. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Omnibus, Vol 2” by Joss Whedon, et al – 4 stars.

73. “Anita Blake Vampire Hunter: Circus of the Damned, Vol 1” by Laurell K. Hamilton, et al – 4 stars.

74. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales” by Joss Whedon, et al – 5 stars.

75. “The Walking Dead, Vol 11: Fear the Hunters” by Robert Kirkman, et al – 5 stars.

76. “Angel: After the Fall, Vol 4” by Joss Whedon, et al – 4 stars.

77. “The Walking Dead, Vol 12: Life Among Them” by Robert Kirkman, et al – 5 stars.

78. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Omnibus, Vol 5” by Joss Whedon, et al – 5 stars.

79. “Anita Blake Vampire Hunter: Circus of the Damned, The Ingenue” by Laurell K. Hamilton, et al – 4 stars.

80. “Angel, Vol 5: The Aftermath” by Joss Whedon, et al – 5 stars.

81. “The Walking Dead, Vol 13: Too Far Gone” by Robert Kirkman, et al – 5 stars.

82. “Malachy McCourt’s History of Ireland” by Malachy McCourt – 3 stars. There is a lot of great information here, however the prose is boring at times making it a rather dense read.

83. “Clive Barkers Hellraiser: Book 7” by Clive Barker, et al – 5 stars.

84. “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Vol 2” by Heather Nuhfer, et al – 4 stars.

85. “The Walking Dead, Vol 14: No Way Out” by Robert Kirkman, et al – 5 stars.

86. “Anita Blake Vampire Hunter: Circus of the Damned, The Scoundrel” by Laurell K. Hamilton, et al – 4 stars.

87. “Angel & Faith, Vol 1: Live Through This” by Joss Whedon, et al – 4 stars.

88. “Withering Heights” by Emily Bronte – 2 stars. I couldn’t get into this one. I didn’t sympathize or like any of the characters. I actually stopped reading it.

89. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Omnibus, Vol 6” by Joss Whedon, et al – 4 stars.

90. “The Walking Dead, Vol 15: We Find Ourselves” by Robert Kirkman, et al – 5 stars.

91. “The Scarlet Gospels” by Clive Barker – 4 stars.

Josh Duggar and Respecting Survivors

Hand writing Hope concept with black marker on transparent wipe board. Hold On, Pain Ends.

**WARNING**Possibly triggering material (abuse/sexual assault)**WARNING**

I have been thinking a lot about Josh Duggar recently. If you follow my blog, you already know my thoughts on this issue from my post The Ignorance of Well Doers.

An author friend of mine brought up a good take on this media hailstorm. With everything being brought to light in the media, what is the impact on survivors? As I discussed in my previous posts, the anxiety, PTSD, triggers, and flashbacks associated with being a survivor can make daily functioning cumbersome and mentally/emotionally exhausting. With this in mind, I think it’s reasonable to assume that all of the media talk will trigger survivors even more.

Is the solution NOT talking about it in the media? As a survivors’ advocate, I cannot tolerate the idea of keeping “hush hush” about these issues. When we don’t talk about them, when we’re silent, the result of these hidden horrors is that no credence is given to a very serious social issue in our country. Out of sight, out of mind. We collectively stick our heads in the sand and go about life like there is no darkness shadowing the lives of many children and adults who live with these issues every day.

Does that mean that specific incidences, such as the case with Josh Duggar, should be publicly discussed? By doing this we’ve went from the realm of discussing a social issue to be very specific about a particular perpetrator, which in turn forces us to talk about particular survivors. My initial response to this is that survivors are living it every day regardless. And in my opinion, when you make the choice to live your life in the public eye as the Duggars have, you open yourselves up to very public scrutiny. Yes, your private lives and skeletons become fodder for the media and public opinion. Is this right? Quite frankly, as a consumer of various media, I want to know certain things – especially anything that is considered public record – because there are certain people that I refuse to support in any way. I do not believe that people such as child molesters should be given a public forum. These are not the people we should be rallying behind.

Many have said that we should be forgiving and that he made a “childhood mistake.” I’m all about forgiving mistakes. This is how I define mistake – if you do it once, realize the err of your ways, and don’t do it again, THAT’S a mistake. If you do it more than once, like five times, that’s BEHAVIOR, not a mistake. Note, this does NOT mean that I think someone who abuses only ONCE is off the hook – the impact to the survivor is the same regardless how many times a perp offends. I’m just outlining a very specific difference between incidental criminality and habitual offenses, a difference that the law also defines.

We still have the issue of triggering the survivors. I’m torn up about this issue. On the one side, I would never support doing anything that would purposefully or inadvertenly force a survivor to relive any trauma. At the same time, by remaining silent on these issues we begin to fool ourselves that there is a sexual assault problem in this country. Through talking about it, we can educate the public, and more importantly, provide survivors with needed resources to begin – and continue – the healing process. For me, I will continue to talk about these things – even scream at the top of my lungs about them. Out of respect for the survivor issues, I commit myself to always preface a post or video with a trigger warning. This way, survivors can make the decision to read/see the material. The media would do well to do the same.

For more information and resources on sexual violence, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

If you’re a parent dealing with the heartache helping your child heal, read When Your Child Has Been Molested: A Parents’ Guide to Healing and Recovery.

How Depression Made a Top Student a Failure

Depression Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Dramatic Storm Clouds and Sky.

As I stated in my v-log on depression, statistics posted by Huffington Post earlier this year show that 30% of college students report experiencing depression so severe that it disrupts their school work. I mentioned in the video that I was in that 30%.

What’s interesting to me is the timing of things – a couple of days before recording that video, I decided to request my transcripts from my university. Since I quit my day job, I have been asking myself, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” As I started down that line of thought, I requested my transcripts to take a look at where I had been and revisit those subjects I had been so passionate about in my younger years.

When I first started off at college, I was convinced that I wanted to be a print journalist. I even had dreams of being an investigative journalist who uncovered big government scandals in the vein of Watergate. Being a passionate writer, print journalism seemed like a natural choice for careers.

Unfortunately, I quickly became disheartened with what I was learning in my journalism classes. I quickly learned that sensationalism was the order of the day – “if it bleeds, it leads” – and preserving the First Amendment had fallen behind how much ad space you could sell (which in essence, morally ties you to the whims of the corporations who advertise with you).

I was lost. I didn’t know what to do. My vision of my future completely disintegrated under the weight of a capitalist media system which had no regard for someone like me – someone who just wanted to write and seek the truth. This realization coupled with the shock of a failed relationship and struggling with my own identity sent me drowning into an abyss.

I became very depressed. So much so, that I lost interest in writing and researching topics I had previously found interesting. I no longer wanted to be involved with the Society for Professional Journalists. I no longer want to go to my journalism classes. In fact, I no longer wanted to even get out of bed. Since I couldn’t will myself to get out of bed or take a shower, I stopped going to class. My anxiety reared its ugly head. Because I didn’t go to class, I knew I would have to talk to the professors, which caused me so much anxiety that my fight or flight response had me fleeing – in so much that I just avoided the whole situation by continue to be absent. I was close to flunking out of school.

In high school, in all four years, I received all As and one B. During this particularly dismal semester in college, I earned four Fs and one D. It was absolutely humiliating. SO humiliating that this is the first time in my life that I have allowed myself to be this candid about it.

I took time off to really think about which degree would really interest me. Along with writing, I was passionate about social issues and had a somewhat morbid fascination with criminals, serial killers in particular. I also took time to recover from the depression, stress and anxiety – on my own, which wouldn’t be as helpful as I thought.

With these insights, I finally went back to school and changed my major to Sociology, emphasizing criminology and deviant behavior.

The next four years were much different.

To be continued