Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata – Five Sentence Book Review

Back again with another five sentence book review, this time for Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata. It’s a book originally written & published in Japanese and translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori.

This book was a confusing read, and felt like a literary rollercoaster ride where I wanted to sometimes scream at the main character, and at other times scream at everyone else.

It felt like equal parts memoir, fiction, and ethnographic study, which would have been perfect had it not been so weird.

I found myself feeling utterly conflicted and as time went on, I went from enjoying the book, to essentially hate-reading it.

I don’t know if it’s cultural differences, but I found some of the book to be frustratingly offensive, and while I think that was in some ways perhaps the point, it made it no less bearable.

I expected a lot of things from this book, and the only thing it delivered on was that it was a short & quick read.

⭐️

If you’ve read this book, I’m curious to know what you thought of it! I picked it up and read it in a matter of hours and I’m now sitting here wondering what exactly I just experienced!

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The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary – Five sentence book review.

This book is a beautiful romance filled with heart-warming moments.

It’s also dark at times – tackling difficult subjects in a really refreshing way.

I loved how well the characters and setting were used and developed, which made it so easy to picture every scene.

What a damn good debut novel.

Go buy/borrow/download/listen to this book!!!!

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Is this a ridiculous way of reviewing a book? Perhaps. But honestly, I often find myself wanting to discuss a book when I’ve finished it, and I also find that I frequently struggle to convey my thoughts properly after reading a book. Sometimes I just want to sit in my feelings, but I often also feel the urge to write about what I’ve experienced too. This felt like maybe it could be a good way to bridge the gap??

Oh, Canada: Maple Dip-Donuts, Public Transit, and Disability Accomodations

Earlier this week, Tina and I spent the day traveling through Ontario on our way to the Burlington IKEA. Many of you may not know that I have harbored a deep love and appreciation of Canada pretty much since I was young. I know that I also tend to romanticize Canada, but Canada and its provinces are filled with so many fascinating and beautiful vistas and they always seem to be miles ahead of us Americans in many respects (public transit, universal healthcare, etc.). It’s hard not to be impressed or taken by some aspect during a visit.

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Waiting for Tom Hanks – Kerry Winfrey (BOOK REVIEW)

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I went on a bit of a book requesting spree from my local library recently, and Waiting for Tom Hanks was one of the many books I put a hold on. It’s definitely thanks to Instagram, though I can’t remember exactly who inspired the choice, it was likely many of you. It is definitely one of those books that has been posted nearly everywhere!

The title was of course what drew me in, but it was the first sentence on the back cover that had me immediately opening my library app (BEST. THING. EVER.) and putting a hold on the book.

“Annie Cassidy dreams of being the next Nora Ephron.”

Yes please. Count me in. You’ve Got Mail is my favorite movie. Sleepless in Seattle is definitely in my top ten, and they’re both easily in the top three for my favorite romantic comedies (with Love Actually completing the trio). So a romance novel with a focus on some of the best rom-com’s in existence? I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

I stopped by my local library branch yesterday to pick up my copy on reserve and since it’s a newer release and in such demand, it’s a 7-day only hold. It’s also in the waiting pool, which means that others are in line and I can’t renew it. Of course I got another book that was a 7-day hold as well, so I knew I had to get to reading (leaving my other three reads on the back burner because I swear, it’s all or nothing when it comes to reading for me)! Before we get into the actual book review, let me just say that I really love the cover of this book! Sometimes I wish there was a whole separate Goodreads function for rating book covers because I have some opinions on the matter!

This is not the first book from author Kerry Winfrey, but it is the first book of hers that I’ve read. She has two other novels, and Waiting on Tom Hanks is slated for a sequel with Not Like The Movies.

The book focuses on Annie Cassidy, who is straight-up obsessed with romantic comedies. Perhaps mostly because it’s a connection for her to her parents. Her dad dies when she’s young, and her mother dies while she’s in high school, leaving Annie’s Uncle Don to move in and raise her. It’s just them against the world. A love of romantic comedies is something Annie has inherited from her mother and it’s a safe place for her. This kind of safety/comfort in fandoms is a theme that is carried throughout the book for many of the characters and one which I really appreciated and enjoyed as I relate to it.

Annie’s love for romantic comedies extends beyond mere comfort and enjoyment – she uses them for a guide in her life. Professionally, she hopes to write a successful screenplay (of a rom-com of course). Personally she analyzes her romantic relationships (and those of the people around her) on the formulas within many of her favorite movies. While Annie uses these unrealistically charming and magical movies as her guide in life, she lives her actual life on the safe side. The loss of her mother has made it difficult for Annie to leave the only connections to her that she has: her uncle Don, and her childhood home which they still share. Her neighborhood of Germantown, Ohio is safe and comforting and filled with memories (some good, some bad), and leaving it is a scary prospect. So when a movie comes to town to film, and her Uncle knows the director, ensuring her a job as his assistant, it’s fate. It being a romantic comedy just further proves that. It’s also on this set where her own romantic comedy comes alive, with not one, but three potential suitors (some more house trained than others…), one of which being the star of the film – Drew Danforth.

There are so many cute aspects of this book. This being a contemporary romance novel, I should expect that to be the case. But while the book has no shortage of adorable, charming moments, it was also a bit of a slow burn for me. It’s a really cute story, but Annie’s love for romantic comedies often borders on obsession and this repetitiveness got a bit grating to endure at times.

I found myself rooting for Annie throughout the book, but there were times where she frequently made me cringe. She’s the type of character who often gets in their own way, and while I know part of her story was her learning to let go, take risks, and move on, there were moments where she was a more than a little exhausting. But perhaps that’s just the thing when you’re seeing a character from your outside perspective – their flaws are much more noticeable than the flaws you yourself might possess, even if they’re the same or similar.

There’s definitely a bit of that “will they/won’t they” apprehension hanging in the air as the book progresses and I’m glad that it wasn’t entirely predictable from the word go. That tension is often what makes a romance novel good right?? It leads to those moments, just like in the romantic comedies of screen, where everything just crescendos and the story reaches its climax. Winfrey definitely nails the classic romance formula, but in a refreshing way. I loved all the various pop-culture/nerdy elements throughout the book – between all the talk of Nora Ephron films and Frasier, it felt like the book was quite often speaking to me, and me alone.

Waiting for Tom Hanks is really a lovely book – full of dynamic, very well developed characters. Looking beyond some of the early repetitiveness, it ended up being a super easy read for me as I plowed through the book in a little more than a day. It should certainly make its way onto everyone’s summer reading lists because it’s just the right blend of heavy and lightheartedness that I think we could all benefit from right now. Come on, couldn’t we all use an escape??

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ out of 5 stars.

For more of what I’m reading, you can follow me on Goodreads and Instagram!

Sunday Thoughts #2

It’s only been a couple of weeks since the first Sunday Thoughts post I slapped up, and look at me! Here to do it again!

I want to start it all off by saying that if you haven’t read Missy’s post yet – How to Really Support Autism, get on that!!

Lately I’ve been trying to fill my social media with more cute shit and less politics. It’s not because I don’t care – because I really, really do. It’s because I feel emotionally tapped out. It feels like the horrible things going on in our world never cease (because they don’t) and I found that I’d open up twitter or Instagram and it was never-ending. It made me feel horrible all the time and I was miserable. So I’ve been trying to find happier things to fill my timelines with, just to try and get some balance for my sanity’s sake.

Enter Strange Planet Comics. When I was a kid, I used to love reading the comics in the newspaper on the weekends, or after unwrapping a gift from my grandmother who always reused them as wrapping paper. There was so much to choose from and I’d read it all. From Doonesbury to Kathy and everything in between. I’m sort of ashamed to admit that I don’t remember the last time I picked up a newspaper – for comics or anything else. Now, I find comics online, usually on Instagram. I just came across Strange Planet and oh my god, it is so freaking brilliant. Nathan Pyle has created this hilarious comic with aliens who take every single seemingly mundane aspect of our lives and make it amusing. The simplicity of it is what makes it so funny to me, and the art keeps me coming back. I’m usually the last to everything and this comic already has over a million followers so clearly that’s true in this case, but just on the chance that you haven’t come across this comic yet, please go check it out!

 

I’m also still loving The Goldbergs. I’m making my way through the series via Hulu (another love for sure) and it’s just so damn good! While the show is excellent, I recently discovered that there is a Goldbergs playlist on Spotify, and holy shit it is killer. It’s nothing but really good 80s bops and after watching different episodes it connects the music like a soundtrack and I’m totally loving it. Even if you’ve never watched the show (fix that), you can get down with the playlist (please do). Trust me – you can’t listen to it without singing/dancing!

This next thing isn’t something I’m loving or about to rave about. I want to talk about something I’ve been struggling with – my skin. Skincare is freakin’ hard people. I have been trying to find a routine that works for me for what feels like forever, and it’s exhausting. I have sensitive, dry, redness prone skin to start off with. Strong fragrances are a no because they trigger my migraines. Add on the fact that I can’t use anything with Salicyclic acid and you can eliminate basically 50% of the products currently on the market. Citrus seems to freak out my skin too, but sometimes its hit or miss. I’m not looking for products that cost a $$$$$, not because I’m not willing to ~invest in my skin~ but I just don’t have that kind of budget! I’ve tried all the popular products that get rave reviews – Cetaphil, CeraVe, Vanicream, …the list goes on. Then there’s the fact that I struggle with textures. So many of the products I’ve tried have DRIVEN ME NUTS when they’re on my skin. I mean, it’s so uncomfortable and distracting that I end up washing my face again because I literally cannot stand the feeling of whatever oil/cream/gel I’ve tried using. I’m at the point now where I’d rather deal with my dry cranky skin than the feeling of something goopy and horrible laying on my skin driving me into a pit of madness.

I’ve got a couple points with this rant. For one, I feel like you can easily find a million blog posts and Youtube videos about skincare routines and how someone solved this or that issue with their skin and all that jazz. That’s all good (when it’s authentic of course), but honestly it’s not all sunshine and daisies. I’d love to get to the point where I can share my skincare routine here, but I’m just not there yet. I’m so so far away.

Secondly, I share this because I’m looking for any suggestions anyone might have for me. I feel like when it comes to recommendations, I’ve heard it all, but I’m still hoping that someone has the secret product that will work for me. I’m not looking for a twenty point skincare routine, I don’t have the energy for that. But if I could actually feel like my skin is clean/hydrated and not angry all the time, that’d be pretty cool. Tell me your secrets.

Lastly, I just want to profess my deep and intense love for Tim Horton’s Ice Capps. Living in Western New York, Timmy Ho’s has been a part of my life for a long ass time. I’ll be honest that over the years, my love for Tim’s has dwindled. They’ve changed recipes, gotten rid of things, and quality control has sort of gone out the window. But despite all that (and Burger King’s acquisition), I’ve recently rekindled my love for them via their Ice Capps. The weather is s-l-o-w-l-y starting to improve here and with that my craving for cold coffee drinks has emerged. When they make them right, an Ice Capp is such a perfect freakin’ work of art. It’s like the best coffee slushie you could dream of. No, Starbucks frappuccinos DO NOT compare, because those are simply horrible. While the Ice Capps you can get state side still do not compare to the ones in Canada (or the beautiful maple dip donuts they refuse to carry here…), they’re still a beautiful thing. The perfect hopeful acknowledgement that spring/summer is actually coming and we survived another winter. I’ll drink to that.

Oh and speaking of coffee, Missy and I set up a Ko-Fi page! It’s a work in progress so it’s pretty bare bones right now, but if you like anything you’ve been reading here, we’d love any support you felt like giving. ❤

It’s Time Sephora Got Rid of Kat Von D

If you like makeup and you pay any attention to things in the beauty world, you’ve likely heard something over the years about Kat Von D and her beauty line. You’ve probably heard people raving about various products, or maybe you only heard the talk about the many problematic issues with Kat Von D herself.

This isn’t a gossip blog, nor is it really a makeup focused blog, but makeup is something I have an interest in and as I’ve seen talk about Kat Von D pick up again following a video that Kat did (I won’t link to it, but I’ll link to this great response video that Leesha did). It got me thinking about the brand again and I felt like talking about it here.

Scandals bring down brands all the time. Sometimes not right away, but generally speaking, it seems that we live in a world where its harder to bounce back after a big blow up. I think the existence of social media plays into it, as its near impossible now for brands to just shove the bad shit under a rug. It’s also way easier for consumers to find out stuff that brands might not want us to know. In the case of Kat Von D, the issues are primarily with Kat herself. I’m not going to share all the info here, but the receipts are all over the internet for you to find. Over the years there’s been instances in which her actions have lead to accusations of racism and anti-Semitism. She’s been in multiple relationships with neo-Nazis, and of course there is the subject of anti-vaxxing.

Whoa, honestly that’s a lot for one person/brand. I feel like in so many instances, any one of those would have brought a different brand down! Of course, Kat Von D has tried to defend herself and discredit these claims over the years, but for many consumers, including myself, it’s too late. I can’t in good conscience give my money to a company/someone with this kind of track record.

Each issue with Kat Von D is horrible no matter how you look at it. For me, it was the anti-vaxxing that sealed the deal – not because it was the “most important” or anything, but simply because it was the first issue I even heard about. The anti-vaccine movement (I cringe to even call it that) is considered to be a global health threat according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

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The way I look at it, not vaccinating your children is irresponsible, ignorant and a threat to the general public. I have a lot of anxiety when it comes to health stuff and doctors, medicine, etc. But vaccines are something I’m 1000% behind. Then there are the claims that vaccines cause Autism, which I find to be not only ludicrous but also wildly offensive. If you’re into facts and science, it’s also been proven untrue about a million times.

I can’t get behind a person who supports and/or promotes this kind of bull. I definitely can’t support their brand. I know I’m not alone, I’ve had so many conversations with others who feel the same way. Many, like myself, have vowed to no longer purchase her products. I gave away any of her products that I had and refuse to touch another thing of hers again.

When I was at Sephora this past January I was offered the Kat Von D birthday gift and I emphatically told them that I wasn’t interested and could NOT support the brand because of her behavior. Like I said, I know my stance is that of many other consumers. I’ve seen the threads and I’ve watched the videos. A lot of us no longer support the brand. So my question is: WHY IS SEPHORA??

When there were complaints over the questionable names that Kat Von D uses for their products, like “underage” and “lolita”,  they were more or less glossed over. Sephora did however, pull her product following backlash over a lipstick called “Celebutard”. Cringe. This was in 2013!! Has she learned? Doesn’t seem so. Has Sephora listened to the continual backlash that only seems to gain momentum with every scandal that rocks this brand and its creator? Again, that’s a negative.

Why pick and choose Sephora? Honestly, I think it’s beyond time that Sephora stop supporting this brand and remove Kat Von D from their shelves. When is enough actually enough? Hasn’t there been enough scandal? Enough outrage? I think that if you’re still supporting Kat Von D and her brand, you should take a hard look at your choices. That includes Sephora. By keeping her brand on the shelves, they’re sending a message that these issues don’t matter, at least not over the prospect of making a few bucks (perhaps literally, because who is even buying this brand anymore?!?!). I’m not sure I want to support them so long as they continue to keep her on their shelves.

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Thank you, next.

 

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How to Really Support Autism

My mornings are pretty consistent – I wake up for the several alarms I’ve set neurotically, hit the off button, and browse on my phone to stay awake while snagging a few more minutes nestled in my comfy warm bed. While checking Twitter this morning to see if ODAAT was finally picked up by a network (fingers crossed), I saw so many posts for World Autism Awareness Day. So many puzzle pieces and #LightItUpBlue, so little time. You might also know that April happens to be designated National Autism Awareness Month. As an autistic woman myself, I felt compelled to set the record straight about some things that I take issue with when mostly well-intentioned people try to support autism as a cause. It’s not all bad, but there’s definitely some bad vibes that April gives to #actuallyautistic people like myself.

Language Matters

When you’re drafting a post to social media, you might spend some time thinking about hashtags, which filter, and definitely if you’re anything like me which gif to use (still not solid on how that’s actually pronounced). So why wouldn’t you spend some time thinking about the language you use on social media? I can’t tell you how many times in April I see people using language that’s often considered hurtful to both the autism and disability communities. Phrasing like handicapable, differently-abled, and special needs or calling people with disabilities inspirations or courageous. My biggest issue is with what is commonly referenced as inspiration porn. I recently discovered ABC’s Speechless, which is an amazing show that actually features genuine disability representation and needs to be renewed ASAP!! They hit the nail on the head in one of their episodes as they explained what inspiration porn is.

No Assembly Required

The imagery associated with autism of the puzzle piece may appear innocent, but it carries an implied meaning that can be hurtful to autistics like me. Think about the last time you tried putting together a puzzle. You had to look at the box to see if the pattern was even remotely close, scavenge for the right piece for a particular spot, and sometimes slam it into place before you realize that there was a missing piece. People are not puzzles!!! The analogy of a puzzle piece – especially when paired with that saying “until all the pieces fit” – implies that people on the autism spectrum need to be fixed or that something is wrong with us. The sooner we ditch the puzzle piece, the sooner we can change the narrative of autism as being something to fix when really it’s society that could benefit from changes.

Blue-Washing

Every April brings a wave of blue everywhere, which seems cheery enough, but again there’s an aspect that might not even cross your mind. When you think of the color blue, there are several associations you might make from raindrops to a beautiful clear sky. Of course, there’s also the association seen at many gender reveal parties with boys traditionally being represented with the color blue. When attached to something like autism, it wipes out the existence of other autistic people who identify as female or another gender identity. In 2019, we need to do better in not only recognizing but supporting all autistic people regardless of how they identify in terms of gender, race, and sexual orientation.

Ditching Autism Speaks

Have you ever had that one acquaintance that’s always saying something really messed up? Enter Autism Speaks. For many well-intentioned people, Autism Speaks is the organization that you might give a donation to in April, but peel back the curtain and see the horrible ethos of the organization which ascribes to what is referred to as the medical model of disability. It essentially aims to fix or cure people with disabilities including autistics through medicine. In the case of Autism Speaks, their goals are made into reality with research for a cure and support of prenatal testing which aligns itself with other modern eugenics practices. Let me say emphatically: I and fellow autistics like myself – we are not broken and we don’t need to be cured!! They are an organization that not only fails to represent the support needs of autistics directly but is perfectly okay at the prospect of erasing autism and autistics like myself off the map. This op-ed published four years ago from The New York Times written from a parent’s perspective, while dated still provides a great perspective of the issue.

 

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) also gives some thoughts in a prepared pamphlet on the ills of Autism Speaks’ practices as well as providing some helpful guidance on where to donate instead that will actually benefit people on the autism spectrum and not an organization participating in mass character assassination of autistic people. I leave you with this thread from NYT YA author Marieke Nijkamp that pretty much sums up my feelings to a T. I hope you enjoy the rest of your #WorldAutismAcceptanceDay and as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts!!