Category Archives: Opinions

No-Cry?

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So, I finished Elizabeth Pantley’s The No-Cry Sleep Solution, and I have to say, I’m surprised.  I knew I was already using some of her techniques – specifically the bedtime routine (seriously guys respect the bedtime routine, EVERY SINGLE NIGHT that we get lazy and don’t do it the girls are up ALL NIGHT) – and I kind of expected there to be a lot more in the book itself that I enjoyed & found usable.  Instead, I found myself wondering who the hell this woman thinks she is to write a book – actually, a whole series of books.  She is a proponent of attachment parenting and co-sleeping, which I’m not super into – which is fine, except that most of the book is written as though OF COURSE you’re doing these things because you LOVE YOUR CHILD and only somebody who doesn’t LOVE THEIR CHILD would insist on them sleeping somewhere other than their bed (despite the fact that co-sleeping is famously controversial, all major medical bodies regularly flip-flop their position on it, and HELLO BB and I sleep in a  full size bed and have twins.  #sorrynotsorry).  Honestly, I’m all for attachment parenting.  You want to put your kid in your bed and have them attached to your boob for multiple years?  GREAT, I’M SUPER HAPPY FOR YOU AND HOPE YOU AND YOUR CHILD ENJOY YOUR BONDING TIME AND GROW UP TO HAVE A HAPPY AND HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP.  But I cannot do that.  I need my alone time, I need to have some separation and give my children time to bond with their father and grandparents and whatever, REASONS.  I’m absolutely not shitting on attachment parenting (in fact, I haven’t actually read the “official” book on it, but I fully intend to, simply to have a full understanding of what it is).

 

So, sort of went on a tangent there.  But honestly, I was underwhelmed by this book.  There was a lot of “You know best, so do whatever you want, even if it goes against what everyone is telling you” following right on the heels of REAL, MEDICAL information, like “babies must sleep on their backs because it reduces the risk of SIDS by over 50%”.  I felt like this was irresponsible, like she was giving mothers permission to do things that are LEGITIMATELY dangerous just because it seemed to work for their child.  She also openly says at several points that you should IGNORE advice from your PEDIATRICIAN if it disagrees with your motherly instinct – which, again, I think is exceptionally irresponsible.  If you’re finding yourself consistently disagreeing with your pediatrician, and he or she is not respectful or supportive of your parenting choices, you GET ANOTHER PEDIATRICIAN, not ignore the person who is supposed to be giving you medical advice.  I actually tried to look up Pantley’s credentials around this point, thinking that she must be pretty well-educated and respected to go about giving such ballsy advice.  She’s pretty cagey about her actual credentials – every biography about her simply lists her as a “parenting expert” and talks about the fact that she’s a mother and an author and parenting columnist and gives talks on the subject fairly frequently.  Nothing really mentioned about what credentials she had to get her to that point (besides the four kids), so I have to assume she really doesn’t have any.  I’ll let you know if I discover otherwise.

 

So, besides the fact that she comes across as super judgmental and kind of reckless with the type of advice she’s flinging about as though she has a right to do so, I also found her advice to be…useless?  That’s not really the right word.  But it was a lot of what I saw as common sense.  I did really like the idea of tracking your baby’s sleep patterns for 10 days, then looking back at the log & seeing when he or she is sleeping and where there may be problems; similarly she recommends logging what the baby does in the hour or so before bedtime to help determine if the baby is getting all wound up right before bed.  But beyond that, her advice is common sense – make sure your baby is sleeping the right amount for his or her age, because overtired babies fight more sleep.  Start a bedtime routine, and make sure it’’s quiet and in dim lighting and guides your baby to feeling sleepy and signals to him that it’s time for sleep.  Learn the difference between  your baby’s “sleeping” sounds and the sounds when she is actually waking up, and if he or she is simply making noise in her sleep – don’t wake her up!  Teach your baby to fall asleep in his crib (or basinett, or your bed, or wherever you want her to sleep) instead of your arms so you can do things while your baby sleeps!  I was honestly underwhelmed.

 

And that was how I felt about the book as a whole – when I wasn’t frankly offended by the tone she used or horrified by the irresponsibility of her advice, I was underwhelmed by the common sense nature of what she had to offer.

 

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Markup

I love marking up my books.  Seriously, even books that I don’t own–sorry Kait!!  I just can’t help it–I need to underline, comment in the margins, respond back to the text.  And I ADORE when someone else has been there first.  I’m rereading Mrs. Dallloway, which a friend of a friend gave me while I was visiting Chicago.  She’s marked up the text enough so I know she’s read it at least three times, and I love seeing her reactions to the text.  It makes me feel connected to her, and anyone else who has read the book before, particularly if the perspective is different than mine.  The new viewpoint makes me happy, and makes the text more 3 dimensional than it is without those new perspectives.  Honestly, it’s like having a book club, without actually having to talk to anyone.  Which is my secret desire–to start a book club with my bookish friends, where we don’t meet.  We just pass along books from person to person, adding our own perspective to the text as we go.  That way, we each get more out of the books than we would on our own; plus we would probably read things we wouldn’t otherwise since we all have different tastes.  Plus, it would get rid of my boyfriend’s biggest argument against how much I read: it makes me super antisocial 🙂

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Death, Reversed?

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I have some serious issues with the trope of killing off major characters just to bring them back because it’s convenient.  It feels like a cheat, like a cheap way to get a rise out of the reader without actually having to deal with the consequences.  I’m finishing up rereading The Obsidian Trilogy, and towards the end, Lackey and Mallory seem to rely heavily on this crutch.  They dangle death in front of their main characers from time to time throughout the series, but it isn’t till the second half of When Darkness Falls(the third and final book) that they get a bit excessive with it.  First, Jermayan and Ancalandar sacrifice themselves to bring the army across the mountains, using all their magic (which should, by all accounts, kill them) to reunite the army.  Everybody thinks they are dead, until they come flying across the mountains, alive but with no additional magic to aid the army.  Fine.  What would be the point of calling The Starry Hunt if they weren’t going to do things like bring your dragon and Elven Knight back from the brink of death to continue aiding your army.  At least they lost their magic, essentially crippling them.  Until Idalia is killed, which someone recharges Ancalandar’s magic just in time for them to aid the Light’s victory over the Demons.  Cheap, but not as cheap as Idalia’s death itself.

From the end of The Outstretched Shadow (the first book of the series), the reader has been waiting for the Wild Magic to claim Idalia, as it promised to do.  It doesn’t come to fruition until the very end of When Darkness Falls, but it comes about in such a satisfying way—yes, it’s terrible that one of the main, and best beloved characters, must die, but she sacrifices herself for the good of the world, and with enough drama to befit the end of a trilogy.  Her death even allows Jermayan and Ancalandar to be useful to the army again, which, as I said, is sort of cheap, but I’ll allow it.  Then.  OH, THEN.  THEY BRING HER BACK.  AS AN ELVEN BABY.  AND EVERYONE RECOGNIZES HER.  AND ASSUMES THIS BABY WILL LOVE JERMAYAN AND THEY WILL LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER IN PERFECT ELVEN BLISS ONCE SHE TURNS EIGHTEEN.  I’m not exaggerating even a little when I tell you that the last scene in this book actually makes me disgusted with the series as a whole, and is the reason why every time I read it I swear it will be the last time.  I can’t even express how cheap I find this ending.  Why would you even bother killing off a main character—in such an emotional way, no less—just to bring her back fifty or so pages later unless you blatantly want to manipulate the emotions of your reader?  It’s such a cheap trick.   I throw a flag.  Unnecessary sentimentality, fifty page penalty.

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James Potter, Magical Man of Mystery

As a reader, we don’t learn much about James Potter, and what we do learn seems to be contradictory.  Most of Rowling’s characters have crazy detailed back stories (which is part of the reason I love the series so much), and it’s odd that James doesn’t get the same treatment.  While we see Lily as a young child, playing with Snape, and then trace her through Hogwarts and eventually dying for Harry, we only meet up with James at Hogwarts.  When we do met him, when Harry invades Snape’s Penseive, he’s described as well cared for and well loved looking, in direct contrast to Snape’s slovenly and neglected appearance (and, yes, I could look up the direct quotes, and no, I’m not going to right now.  Next time I read the books I’ll add them in).  But when James and Lily are killed, Harry is brought to the Dursely’s, because they are Harry’s only living relatives.  No mention is given to James’s family. It obviously isn’t impossible that James was an only child, and that his parents died between the scene in the Pensieve and James and Liliy’s deaths; either natural causes or the madness of Voldemort could be an explanation for their disappearance.  But it’s never explained fully, which is unusual for Rowling, and therefore I must jump on it with the intensity of a rabid dog for a small child.  The second (and second-and-half?) part of the mystery of James Potter is his invisibility cloak, and by extension, the small fortune he is able to leave to Harry.  When theinvisibility cloak is first introducted, both the reader and Harry are new to the world of magic and accept its existence as one more new development.  It isn’t until later, in th e7th books, that Ron feels the need to mention that this is the only cloak of its kind that he’s ever seen.  It isn’t a cloak that has a spell of invisibility on it that will eventually fade and die, it is a cloak that has invisibility woven into it as inextricably as the fabric itself.  The only such cloak the wizarding world knows of is simply a myth, the gift of Death to the youngest Perevell brother to help him escape Death’s notice for a time.  The cloak would naturally give the wearer plenty of opportunites to gain wealth, and pass it, along with the cloak, down through the generations.  Rowling conveniently forgets to tell us where James Potter is actually from—we know Lily is from Spinner’s End, with Snape, and that they lived in Godric’s Hollow once they were married, but little to nothing about James’ early life.  Only one conclusion can be drawn from the fragmented information we have been given.  James is from Godric’s Hollow, like Harry, Dumbledore, and Godric Griffydor himself.  He is the direct descendant of the youngest Perevell brother, the only one to successfully avoid Death long enough to marry and have children and grandchildren.  It explains where James got the Invisibility Cloak—which Dumbledore passes on to Harry with the knowledge that it belonged to James, but with no explanation of how James came about it—and it goes far in explaining how Harry was able to inherit a small fortune once he entered the wizarding world.  It also strongly suggests that Harry and Voldemort are actually related, albeit distantly, since the ring Morvolo brags about being in his family for generations upon untold generations actually seems to contain the Resurrection Stone given to the second Perevell brother.  Iiinnnttteeerrreeessstttiiinnnggg, no?

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I Don’t Understand Why I’m Not A Superhero

I’ve begun to notice a theme to my reading, something that has never truly happened before.  Before, it was haphazard, Thoreau while out, teen romances before bed, schoolbooks in between.  Lately, however, everything I want to read is an epic fantasy.  LOTR while out, The Obsidian Trilogy at home, Wheel of Time still unfinished and now a lust for Narnia, all while On The Road sits, a bookmark forgotten at page 61 and Vanity Fair reproaches me from the living room bookshelf, still unopened since bringing it home from the secondhand bookstore in PA over the summer.   Rarely, if ever, do the genres of all the books I’m reading line up—it sort of defeats what I’m going for in my reading, which is variety and depth.  But I can’t help it right now—something about my life makes me long for the unknown, the undiscovered, the elemental struggle between good and evil in which it doesn’t matter if you agree or not, you’re all on the same side essentially.  There is no miasma of dread or anxiety, nobody is questioning their place in the world, or if they are, it’s just a plot point to add interest before they end up saving the world.  Things might objectively suck more than they do in the real world, but goddamnit if they aren’t simpler.  I want that simplicity.  I long for it with the intensity of a crazy cat lady for a husband, and it scares me.  I can’t have that simplicity, because there are no magic rings that threaten to take over the world, and no matter how well I plan, Demons are not going to try to destroy all living beings.   Sometimes, I wish they would, because those problems are so much easier to understand than the political and economic mess that we call the world, flavored with the social and financial pressures of everyday life.  But no matter how thoroughly I try to throw myself into their worlds, my rent is still due and my job still expects me to show up, and nobody ever asks me to save the world.  I hope this is just a phase, because I don’t know if I can deal with this despair for the rest of my life.

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Readers Bill of Rights

I’ve (it took me five tries to type that word, BTW) come across a few different versions of the “Readers Bill of Rights”, and I thought I’d show you two of my favorites as well as my own personal hybrid of Rights.  Also, this is my second post in one day, so I won’t feel so bad when I don’t post at all for the rest of the weekend.  So there :-p

1 ) To NOT interrupt my reading in public to tell you what I’m reading or how I’m liking it–I’m reading because I don’t want to talk to you, asshole.

2 ) To judge the shit out of the characters in my book, or fall in love with them, or want to punch them–in other words, get just as emotionally involved with them as I do real people.

3 ) To like characters more than real people.

4 ) To scribble all over my books, whether or not the scribbles have anything to do with the book.  It’s my book, asshole.

5 ) To reread any book I want, whenever I want.  See rule 4.

6 ) To read hardcover, softcover, or eReader.  I love them all, and being a digital copy doesn’t make the words different.

7 ) To read trashy romance novels, epic fantasies, beat poetry, and Eurpoean classics.  At the same times.  Because they feed different parts of my soul.

8 ) To read things in a language I’m not fluent in, just because I love how it sounds.  Even if my pronunciation is terrible.

9 ) To create drinking games to go along with my books, and encourage people to play them when I loan them said books.

10 ) To see the movie version of a book and sit in the middle of the people I’m with, so I only annoy THEM with my constant critique of how the book is superior.

11 ) To engage in spirited debates about which authors and series are better than others.  Which is a polite way to say that I will judge you and expect you to be able to defend your terrible tastes.

12 ) To be as passionate as I have the energy to be about books and reading, and to surround myself with people who will understand, uphold and feed this passion

Did I miss any?

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Craving Comfort

Rereading books: something lazy people do to avoid delving back into their To Be Read (TBR) piles, or something true book lovers do to more thoroughly enjoy their lives?  I think everyone knows where I stand on this issue.  Sure, I have a TBR pile that if it was physically put into one stack would easily reach the ceiling of my apartment, if not higher; a lot of them are dense classics that it’s going to be an intense amount of work for me to get through, too.  But that doesn’t stop me from rereading both The Obsideon Trilogy and On The Road.  Why?  Partially because I’m lazy and my TBR pile looks like a lot of work, and we know how I feel about work (in case you forgot, I hate it).  But it’s also because I crave books the way I crave food.  A scene starts playing in my head, and I can’t help it—I have to devour the book it’s contained in.  Books that I’ve read before are the literary equivalent of fried chicken with five cheese homemade mac and cheese and collard greens made with ham hock—comfort food that I can’t resist if it’s dangled in front of me.  In unrelated news, I just made myself incredibly hungry.  Seriously, though, the idea that I get to hang out with ‘people’ who never change, who I can predict even as I’m learning more about them, is irresistible to me.  My ever-growing anxiety makes it more and more difficult to actually hang out with real people because I can feel them judging me faster than I can convince myself that I’m being paranoid.  The people in books, however, never judge me, and are always reacting exactly the way I expect to situations.  They never disappoint me.  It’s a comfort to me that in this stressful and unpredictable world in which I struggle to survive, the characters in my books will always be true to me.

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