The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

TW: this will be frank in discussion about sexual assault and revenge. If you are in danger, please either call 911 or, if you need help, RAINN at 1-800-656-4673.

This book has been wreaking havoc with my nightmares and has probably been the main reason why I’ve been in a weird mind space recently. It’s not because of the way it’s written or the themes it dives into. I mean, it’s a YA novel, for goodness sake’s. It’s about the subject matter and how close I am to it, whether i care to admit it or not.

The Female of The Species is heartwrenching and an important novel to read, especially today. It’s about a few teenagers — Peekay, Alex, and Jack — with appearances by other key characters as well. Alex lost her sister in one of the most violently brutal ways a person can go, in my opinion. She goes because someone took the time to rape, torture, and murder her in seemingly cold blood. Or on a meth binge, that part’s not really clear.

Anyway, we come into the novel after the attacker of Alex’s sister has been killed (we learn later on that it’s Alex. this isn’t a spoiler, promise) and the small town is coming to grips with not only one murder, but two. Though this book revolves around high school students and the weirdness that is high school, it dips into some pretty significant themes. Like how do you say no when you’re terrified for your life? And is it rape if you froze? And does God frown upon it if you have sex while on an altar in a historically abandoned, rotting church?

The Female of The Species also takes into account how in several other species, the female is often, more so than not, the protector. The defender. And the one who brings home the bacon, often literally. They’re the strongest links and often the ones that are defended first, not because of weakness but of  necessity. And this novel brings the conclusion that the human species isn’t too far off either from the natural kingdom.

Alex is the protagonist and throughout the book, you can tell she has no problems taking revenge out violently, if the end result takes out a child molester, a rapist, or another vile kind of person. And she understands that her decisions were hers and hers alone. And Peekay & Jack are drawn to her, not because they knew what she was capable of, but because of her strength and her ability to remain standing while everything else was crumbling.

I picked this book up for selfish reasons. I wanted to read a book where an assailant got justice, vigilante or judicial. Mostly, I wanted to see someone with a harrowed past actually be talked about like they were human, instead of some space case where what has happened to them will be all they ever be. And this book broke my heart. It made me cry more times than I care to admit, not because anything necessarily sad happened. But because I know the themes all too well. Maybe not to this degree but Mindy McGinnis has a way of writing that even the coldest of hearts will have their muscle grow a few times too large after reading this. Even the Grinch couldn’t read this without a little change in soul.

Anyway, if you have the steadfast resolve to pick this book up and finish it cover to cover, be prepared for your insides to go through the ringer. Be prepared to question so many things and be at the ready to have things distorted for you.

Maybe it’s the current political climate, maybe it’s that women make up most of the purchasing decisions, but YA novels are becoming more and more nuanced with real, honest stories. ANd though I often feel a little old to be reading, it feels really great to know that a generation is being taught through novels that sexual assault is nuanced, gray, and horribly complicated. And according to this book, revenge is a dish best served cold.

Favourite quote: I wonder what would happen if I went down there, took a ball out of the cage, and pretended to have sex with it. I think people would stop & look….but boys will be boys, our favourite phrase that excuses so many things, while the only thing we have for the opposite gender is women, said with disdain and punctuated with an eye roll. 

6/5

 

‘Wildly into The Dark’ by Tyler Knott Gregson

If you asked me who my favourite poets were, Tyler Knott Gregson would definitely be in the top three. This guy is absolutely magical. And i’m sure you’ve seen his work on Tumblr and on various celebrities Instagrams. His work is thought provoking and hits you straight in the feels.

He does type writer poetry and it’s a fun take on poetry. He really has revitalized the image of what people assume poetry is. And he is such a great vibe too. Super friendly, and incredibly passionate about a variety of work. I’ve written about his previous books here.

I’ve worked with Tyler in the past on a few projects for a non-profit I volunteer with and i can honestly say he’s one of the most genuine artists I’ve ever met. He devotes his time and dives right into projects he honestly cares about. And the ideas he brings to the table are often nothing short of brilliant. I don’t think I can say one negative thing about the man and I don’t even know him all that well.

You can follow him @tylerknott on various social media channels and he also has a wedding photography company as well! If you haven’t bought one of his books or somehow oblivious to his rounds  made on Tumblr, Instagram, & the like, check his stuff out. His books are found anywhere books are sold and I promise you won’t regret it. His words will move you not unlike mountains do.

Favourite line: All I could think to say was that poetry is taking an ache and making it sing 

10/5 

Jackson Pollack — AR style

So I went to Arkansas recently to my boyfriend’s grampa’s house to help him go through some things, watch him work on cars, and get of Dallas for a weekend. Though by no means am I meant for small town life, at all, it was really nice to see a slower pace in comparison to the fast pace I’ve always been used to and sometimes thrive in.

We got to snuggle with some dogs, see a really beautiful part of the country untouched by large cities, industrialization, and the like. There was actually fresh air here and real woods! Something that is always good for the soul is getting out in nature. And sometimes, you just need a reset. I think that was what i needed because i came home in a different mindset and it was really nice to be able to not only appreciate what the city has to offer but also revel in a slower, more laidback vibe that only beach towns and small towns can provide.

Anyway, when we were all tired, and needed a break, Rob’s cousin broke out some .22’s, some whiteboard, and old spray cans left in the garage. Now, keep in mind, I am not a good shot at all. I didn’t grow up hunting or even learning how to handle a gun so it was really fun to see them really go to town with trying to hit the spray cans so that they’d explode and cover the white board in paint. Similar to Jackson Pollack, if he were a redneck, and had access to spray paint & a .22 with enough room to reasonably not hurt somebody unintentionally.

It was a really fun experiment to see how the paints would react with each other and what some of the colours actually were as some were so old, it was near impossible to tell what colour was inside. I even got to try a couple times and came close! Unfortunately, i didn’t contribute much to the paintings except for providing some texture but it was a great way to blow off some steam after a long day and drive.

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This is the only shot I got and we did contribute some fun additions to the grass unfortunately. #sorrymotherearth. But as you can tell in the ill-lit painting, the end result was similar to a Jackson Pollack painting. If you’ve never heard of him, Google his work and it’s fantastic! Rob was trying to channel him while hitting a few of the cans.

But the end result was actually really fun and no two pieces were alike. Mostly due to how the cans were hit and the colours we used but it was a rush unlike much else i’ve experienced. It made some really great drip movement and

And keep in mind, i was with people who knew how to handle these sorts of weapons. I don’t advocate using this method of art unless you know how to handle the tools or are under supervision of someone who is!

Let me know in the comments any fun ways you’ve created art in the past!

‘Scrappy Little Nobody’ by Anna Kendrick

If any celebrity would be my twin in real life or my so called spirit animal (i always feel like such a douche when i say that), I feel like it would be Anna Kendrick. She makes me laugh hysterically and I secretly just want to be her when I grow up. Even though she’s only, maybe, a couple years older than me. Whatever.

Anyway, when I heard she had a book out, I knew instantly that I needed it in my life. And my boyfriend’s sister gave it to me for Christmas and I AM so obsessed with it. Finally sat down to read it these past couple weeks and it’s endearing. Though not my favourite memoir I’ve ever read, I feel like it was one done in the most Anna Kendrick way possible, if it makes sense.

This novel makes her even more approachable and likable and relatable if that was even possible. It’s full of stories from when she made Twilight to the time she was nominated for a Tony when she was freaking 12. Can we say badass? I think we can.

If you’re a fan of anna kendrick or even just a fan of quirky women and sarcasm, then this book is for you. It’s a beach read and wont take many brain cells to process but it makes you see celebrity stature in a whole new light. ANd for more than the tabloid ‘They’re just like us!’ segments we all like to pretend we don’t browse through while at the supermarket.

Plus that title though? I feel like it was written just for me.

favourite quote: women encounter this in social situations as well. let me take you out. don’t be so uptight. just one more drink. and if you don’t, someone might strip you of an adjective you’ve been convinced has value, and label you as something else. Professional people are usually clever enough not to use this term, but in social situations, the threatened brand is ‘bitch’. 

3.5/5 

Bulletproof Coffee

If you’re on Instagram or follow any health/wellness bloggers, you’ve probably heard of the caffeine trend known as Bulletproof Coffee. It’s supposedly got healthy fats and supposed to help increase brain activity or something. To be honest, I always get really confused in the wellness world what triggers brain function, what increase metabolism, and the like. There are just so many outlets and it’s tough to know where to even start!

Anyway, I follow a few and my holistic coach posted something about this contraption drink called Bulletproof coffee. And I figured I’d give it a shot.  It has cold brew coffee, ghee (vegan butter, basically), coconut oil (or MCT oil if you want to get real fancy), and a few other things. I blended some up the night before last and had some this morning. And to be honest, I WAS IN LOVE WITH IT. I’m still getting the flavouring right and how to get the ingredients right.

But surprisingly, given I’m a tea person and not really a fan of cold brew to begin with, I liked Bulletproof Coffee. It made me feel more alert in the morning and it made me feel fuller in combination with some breakfast. If you even google the name of it, you’ll find a slew of recipes. But I love the ones by The Balanced Blonde, The Balanced Berry, and some by Live Wright Wellness. And I’m trying some with blackberries for tomorrow morning. Because, you know, fruit and stuff.

It’s definitely a customizable recipe. Some recommend adding cinnamon but honestly, I couldn’t ever really taste it when i added it to mine. So play around with the recipes you find and let me know what you like the most!

Let me know what y’all want to see from the blog this year! I’m in the process of doing some YouTube videos too and will post them here when they’re live.

 

Flogging Molly and Skinny Lister

So Monday night, I found out that Flogging Molly was playing at the House of Blues Tuesday night. And small secret, seeing them live has always been on my bucket list. Combine that with the main room at the House of Blues? It was basically a necessity that I went. So I asked my boyfriend if he wanted to have an impromptu date night in the middle of the week, listen to some irish punk music, and dance on a work night. Maybe it’s my charm or my level of excitement but he said yes.

So we did dinner and the concert. We were even able to jump the line because we spent money in the restaurant! Fun fact, if you get dinner and it’s above the minimum, you can jump the line at the House of Blues and get in 20 or so minutes early. This allowed us to get to the front of the mosh pit with the best seats in the entire venue. Standing room only but it was worth it


The opening band, Skinny Lister, was a band I’d never heard of before but they were SO much fun. They passed around a huge jug of what I’m assuming was either guiness or distilled whiskey. Luckily it was out before it reached me because the smell was awful. But if you have a chance, SEE THIS BAND. I’m usually not a fan of opening bands but these guys were hilarious, charming, and the most irish ever.

Now to the main event. Flogging Molly and Irish punk reminds me of home. I spent some time growing up in London and we traveled to Ireland frequently because of my dad’s work. So Ireland always just felt like a second home at the time. And Flogging Molly (along with Dropkick Murphys and the like) make me realize just how lucky i was to have grown up there.

Especially with the terrorist attack near London Parliament on Wednesday, it seemed even better timing that I had a taste of home with seeing FLogging Molly live. They were hilarious, the lead singer is probably in his 50s and absolutely killed it. Their enthusiasm was infectious and you could tell they thoroughly enjoyed what they did.

I love concerts where you can tell that the bands, no matter how many shows they’ve played, are still completely in love with what they do. And Flogging Molly was no different. I was pulled into their stories, how avidly they loved Guiness, and how stoked they were to simply be alive.

If you have the chance, go see Flogging Molly live. They’re brilliant. Even more so if Skinny Lister is opening. And hug your loved ones. Terrorism knows no boundaries and it knows not of where you come from.

Feminist Fight Club by Jessica Bennett

If you follow me on social media, especially Instagram, I’ve posted snippets of this book over the past couple weeks of doodles or great passages. And that’s because  I AM OBSESSED WITH THIS BOOK. not only because it combines two of my favourite things — Fight Club and Feminism — but also because it’s such an intricately fun read that goes by quickly, only to be slowed down because you keep wanting to reread passages. Or show your friends the drawings in the pages.

This book basically flips workplace sexism, which is far more common than I think people realize, and b asically creates a secret club for women or female identifying individuals to help fight it in healthy, substantial ways. It’s awesome. And while reading it, you have several “holy shit” moments because we’ve all encountered these kinds of men or even women in the work place. you know the ones — the mansplainers, the manterrupters, and the like who either explain something in mundane detail that either you just said or know extensively and the ones who like to interrupt you every 5 minutes with either something that is completely off track or is trying to take ownership of the conversation. Can I get an Amen to how freakishly annoying that is?

Also, total sidenote, I wish I read this book earlier in my 20s. It’s super relevant – and IMO, a necessary read for any young woman entering a corporate environment for the first time.  At one of my previous jobs, the rampant, underbelly sexism was astounding. For example, I was told by a coworker and my former boss that, in short, I was only hired for the size of my ass as well as how i looked in a dress. Amongst other things that I don’t feel comfortable sharing on the internet. And because moms (hi mom!). I almost filed a lawsuit against the company but before I took a better job, I ended up leaving all the women there gift baskets with notes about what to expect from certain coworkers and what would make them shut up efficiently. And the stuff I encountered wasn’t even the worst examples I could provide. Anyway, that just goes to show how relevant this book is.

But this book is amazing. It’s an easy read that you won’t want to put down. You’ll relate, I’m sure, to at least 85% of it and wish you could start your very own Feminist Fight Club. It’s full of real life examples and great ways to “fight the man” in real life that don’t feel overtly weird or uncomfortable. I think that’s the thing i like the most about this book. Though the subject matter is a little uncomfortable, it makes ways to implement making your voice heard realistic in a total non self help book kind of way.

So long story short? Pick up this book if you’ve ever wondered how to shut down a mansplainer effectively. Pick this book up if you’ve ever needed reassurance that female friendships are in fact the most powerful force. Or even, pick this book if you have no idea what I’m talking about and you want to learn more.

Feminist Fight Club is hilarious, poignant, and relevant to today’s societal influences. It’s an amazing read that’s informative and fantastic. Pick it up wherever books are sold.

Favourite Quote: Even Beyonce had an alter ego-Sasha Fierce-to help her develop into a more confident stage performer….acting confident, even if it’s an act, will not only convince others that you’re competent, it can lead to actual confidence. If you can’t do it for yourself, try doing it for your alter shego — and hype the shit out of her. 

5/5