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life tips Rackers

rackers’ life tips: part 31

this list is a compilation of things I have posted on my instagram over a few months, but all worth including in the long-standing rackers’ life tips series, back from its year long hiatus.

  1. find solace in the idea you’re not the only one to do or think…anything. I had read a comment from someone saying ‘am I the only one who thinks about what happens when we die?’ – and I slightly (strongly) cringed. I hate the opening phrase ‘am I the only one?’ – you are one among billions of others. you are not the only one in anything you do.
  2. you have to stop making people feel bad for not being ‘productive’ in their down time. just because someone scrolls through their social media for an hour (or two) a day with no real purpose to it, doesn’t mean it’s wasted time or that they should be using it for anything else. people are allowed to switch off from a society that is constantly on.
  3. you likely haven’t yet met all the people you are going to love in this lifetime. this is worth sticking around for, and a comfort during the lonely times.
  4. it’s okay if all you did today was get out of bed to make yourself a cup of tea. make sure you have some fruit or toast, too.
  5. your people can’t know you’re hurting unless you tell them. similarly, your people could be staying silent because they don’t want to overshadow your pain. talk to your mates.
  6. anti-racism work is constant work; you don’t always have to be loud (particularly so you’re not overshadowing BIPOC’s voices), but there is always work you can be doing; whether that’s educating yourself, donating, or challenging yourself and those around you.
  7. intersectionality includes spirituality. you can’t bypass the voices of minorities asking us not to use their practice if it’s hurting their culture. there is a line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation, and it is up to us to educate ourselves & to listen and learn when called out or challenged.
  8. just because you have the emotional intelligence & empathy to understand someone’s actions, does not mean you are not entitled to feel the emotions their actions caused for you.
  9. people shitting you off? turn to your three m-ates:
    meditate
    medicate
    masturbate
  10. not liking something popular doesn’t make you cool. like, you don’t like the current pop fav tv show? ok. you don’t like a song all your friends froth over? ok. you don’t like cult classic movies/shows? ok. you pride yourself on not falling into pop culture?… that’s weird. you’re not cool cause you’re ~ different ~. you’re cool when you talk radiantly about the things you DO like. not when you’re shitting on things you don’t, or giving shit to people who like things that are mainstream.
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within 7 years

Within 7 years, a child learns to walk, talk, converse, write their name & even start to read stories. They have memories that stick, they know who they are and who their parents are, what love is.

Within 7 years, a teenager grows into an adult; dealing with hormones, sex, experimenting and learning.

Within 7 years, you grow, recede, and grow some more. You learn and discover more of yourself, your values, your intrinsic self.

Within 7 years, every cell in your body is replaced by a new cell. Every cell who once knew her is gone.

Within 7 years, she had built her family and had her last baby on the way. She had two more 7 year cycles with us. The third cycle sees her baby turning 21 without her.

Within 7 years, I have become accustomed to a life without her and yet not used to it at all. I have thought of her every day, have cried out for her and only wished to be immersed in a mum hug.

Within 7 years, the weight of the words ‘I miss mum’ become heavier because they become lighter for everyone else. Because time has passed, it’s natural to miss her, but it’s assumed the hurt isn’t as present. You tell people it was 7 years ago so they think you’re okay with it now; you’re used to it now.

Within 7 years, you learn that some days the pain feels as fresh as it did on the day you passed. Other days it’s just a distant beat of a broken heart.

Within 7 years, you discover that making constant mistakes is all part of the human experience and sometimes you will let in people who will only hurt you some more. Sometimes, it intensifies the hurt of losing her; others, it pales in comparison.

Within 7 years, you realise that perhaps, time doesn’t heal all wounds. Patience and a desire to heal is the only remedy.

Within 7 years, you learn that grief nestles itself into you. It becomes a part of you, not your entirety, and sometimes it’s so quiet that you don’t even know it’s there; nonetheless, a part of you.

Within 7 years, you adapt to a new normal but some moments, it still shocks you. You go to pick up the phone to call her, or you think of a question to ask; there’s a sweet, blissful moment when you don’t remember.

Within 7 years, you step more into who you are and find more pieces of yourself that reflect who she was. It makes you proud and breaks your heart all at once.

Within 7 years. Ma, I’ve thought of you every single day. I have felt comforted in the idea you’re around somehow, somewhere. I have felt broken, not knowing how to get through to you or tap into the part of me that knew you. I have yelled into the abyss for taking you away. I have cried silent tears, and I have laughed when I remembered small, happy things about you. I have had days where I struggle to remember good moments, and those are the moments that hurt the most. But within 7 years, I have held on to the love from you and pushed through. I love you always.

 

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april + may reading

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Grace is a Victorian orphan dreaming of the mysterious African father she will never meet. Winsome is a young Windrush bride, recently arrived from Barbados. Amma is the fierce queen of her 1980s squatters’ palace. Morgan, who used to be Megan, is blowing up on social media, the newest activist-influencer on the block.

Twelve very different people, mostly black and female, more than a hundred years of change, and one sweeping, vibrant, glorious portrait of contemporary Britain. Bernardine Evaristo presents a gloriously new kind of history for this old country: ever-dynamic, ever-expanding and utterly irresistible.

Absolutely one of the best books I have ever read. The style of the writing is like reading a really long poem, but I think it only adds to the story and the way you read it (perhaps it helps that I love poetry). Each character is so complex and fascinating, and they are all connected in different ways (you can google Girl, Woman, Other character map if you get lost like I did). It gives an expansive history of the Black British experience, the insight into the characters’ lives and emotions, the structure of the story, the connectedness of the human experience even over 100 years; it is beautiful, touching, and truly one of the best books I have ever come across.

Come by Rita Therese

Two selves intertwine and it leaves you, in the dance room, making a decision that winged liner is just for work. Because you don’t know which self you are looking at right now, which person you are. The song stops and you break out of your trance and ask if he’d like to extend…

Rita is an escort, one of the best in Australia. It all began on a whim at 18, after she rang the number on a sign looking for nude models. Always the outsider, she quickly learns the sex industry is comprised of many other people just like her and she becomes immersed in this world: the drugs, the late nights, the glamour, being an outcast, the attention and validation from men. Mostly she thrives on how taboo her life has become. Following significant personal tragedy and trauma, the line between Rita’s sex worker persona Gia and her real self begins to blur in a seemingly endless loop of grief, work, sex, love and heartbreak.

In this achingly honest memoir, Rita learns that death and trauma do not always bring grand transformative experiences. Sometimes, in order to go forward, we have to write our own stories and choose to keep living. With its unflinching, compelling and darkly funny narrative, Come announces a fearless new talent in Australian writing.

!!!!!!. I always want to be careful in a review of an author’s first novel, because I’d prefer to be given the same courtesy when it’s my time. The world doesn’t work like that anyway, and with this, it doesn’t matter. I loved it. My only issue was the jumping around of the timeline, but Rita addressed this & said it was the main point of contention with readers. I think it’s enough to move past, though, because she jumps about with reason as her story is broken down into parts (sex, love, death). I shed angry tears multiple times throughout, annoyed at the way people demonise sex work only on behalf of the sex worker, never toward the ones who use it. At the sheer audacity and entitlement from some of the men she encountered, and the way life tried to pull down someone with so much vigour and intelligence; purely because she is a sex worker.

She wrote so eloquently about grief and PTSD. And then there was hope, for her as a human, for the future, for even the option to read such a tell-all about her life; and there was even a bit of sensual fun. I highly recommend this book to everyone. 

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.

This was, at times, really hard to get through. In saying that, it was also hard to put down. I can’t quite say that I enjoyed it, per se, but it was fascinating and gruelling. Some of the scenes throughout the book can be quite triggering; some genuinely made me feel ill, some made me angry cry, and others made me feel an annoyance that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Perhaps at the audacity of an old white male, taking advantage of a young woman? Probably. I think you need to go into this book knowing that it touches on some really heavy issues, particularly as the main character (Vanessa) has been manipulated and coerced by this man, that she even doesn’t see anything wrong with the situation when she is an adult (also, obviously, shining light on the trauma that can work it’s way into you and stay with you for a long time).

Mia Culpa by Mia Freedman

Sometimes, when I meet someone new and I tell them I’m a writer, they ask  ‘What do you write about?’ Tricky question. It’s a lot like asking a woman who’s just come home from a girls’ dinner ‘What did you talk about?’  The short answer? 
Everything!
When Mia Freedman talks, people listen. Perhaps not her husband. Or her children. But other people. Women. Mia has a knack for putting into words the dilemmas, delights and dramas of women everywhere. The new rules for dating in the internet-romance age? Yep, tricky stuff. Things are not what they used to be. And sex talk at the dinner table? Appropriate or not? Perhaps not, unless in an educational capacity and even then some things are best left unsaid . . .
With intrepid curiosity and a delicious sense of humour, Mia navigates her way through the topics – great and small – of modern life.

I don’t know how I felt about this? Like, I’m not sure it’s something I would generally recommend to people, but there were definitely some good points throughout it. Some parts made me laugh and nod in agreement, others haven’t aged quite well and it’s only nine years old. It’s a light read, but also reads more like a bunch of articles put together to make a book, rather than a cohesive book in itself. I picked it up at the Lifeline Book Fair, and probably will drop it off there again next year… 

 

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do the work

It is not enough to be nonracist, we must be anti-racist. — Angela Davis

Every time you feel uncomfortable, question it. Dig deep into it. Delve into your feelings. Every time you want to step back because you feel like it’s not your problem, push yourself further into it. And do not make it about you. Ask yourself why you feel personally victimised in a situation that is not to do with you? In a time we need to be doing our part in action and change.

Check in. Donate, and do the active work behind the scenes even when this all calms down… Because this will happen again. And we cannot continue to act shocked any time something like this happens, when it is a reality for BIPOC every. single. day. It’s not enough to just share a post on Instagram to let everyone know that you also find it appalling. It’s not enough to say ‘we’re all in this together’… and then not do anything.

Accept that you will never reach a full level of understanding; it is constant work, all the time, and it is having to accept that you will get things wrong – but you must be willing to learn. Talk to your friends (particularly your white ones), your family, challenge them and yourself. Call people out.

DON’T go to BIPOC to educate you. Do not go to them to ask questions and for resources for your education; google, research, ask your anti-racist white friends. Read articles, watch videos and listen to podcasts about white supremacy and racial injustice. Send the BIPOC people on social media cash for what they’re doing to educate you!!! And keep educating yourself!

If you are neutral in times of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. – Desmond Tutu

DONATE

Directly to Black Lives Matter
The Bail Project
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

Australian Indigenous Causes:
Healing Foundation
Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance
The Indigenous Literacy Foundation

READ

Lauren Lately has a great blog post recently on doing the work to become anti-racist with many different resources to get yourself involved in doing the work. A few of our article and book recommendations double up, but I have found her list comprehensive and useful & will be educating myself with the ones I haven’t yet used.

Choose from any of the books/articles listed in this article; books on anti-racism

They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, And A New Era In America’s Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery

Freedom Is A Constant Struggle by Angela Davis

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

Your Silence Will Not Protect You by Audre Lorde

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

Australia Day by Stan Grant

Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia by Anita Heiss

Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe

Becoming Kirrali Lewis by Jane Harrison

Because a White Man’ll Never Do It by Kevin Gilbert

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds, Ibram X. Kendi

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

List of 10 Important Books on Indigenous Cultures, Histories and Politics

75 things white people can do for racial justice by Corinne Shutack

It’s time to put an end to the gaslighting that occurs every day in Australia by Joshua Waters

Deaths Inside: Indigenous Australian deaths in custody by The Guardian

The 147 dead: terrible toll of Indigenous deaths in custody spurs calls for reform

WATCH

Rabbit Proof Fence

The Hate U Give

13th (Documentary)

When They See Us

The Watson’s Go to Birmingham

Freedom Riders

Malcolm X

Walkabout


This is only the beginning. These resources only just begin to scrape the surface of unlearning bias, of changing the way we think, and of enacting change. Take the time to research and educate yourself, and share your findings with the people around you. Be better. And don’t stop learning.

 

 

 

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afraid to fail

Are you not acting on what you want because you’re afraid to fail?

For a long time, I have been pulling myself back from growing and succeeding because I am terribly afraid to fail. A voice in my head saying I won’t deliver to other peoples’ expectations, so I wouldn’t even try at all. The times I would work on extensive & exciting projects – I would put my all into it, until one day, I would stop.

I would block myself from getting any further, and generally I’d cocoon into my bed and hide from the world. It would be so close to finished, but I avoid it until I either forget about it, or eventually pick it up and work slowly at it until completion… Then, it’s a different story whether I actually put it out into the world.

Some people call it imposter syndrome, others say it’s a lack mentality or not enough self-belief, which is what I have always found so confusing. I don’t think of myself to lack self-belief, because I truly believe in my message and my ability to be successful. Perhaps I hinder myself without even realising, and there is underlying issues that have yet to surface. Who knows? All I know is that I stop myself from moving forward, often involuntarily.

I studied Meditation Teaching for over 18 months, but I still worried that I wasn’t good enough, that people wouldn’t come to me because I’m not overtly spiritual all the time, or I would compare myself to the multitude of coaches and people already in the field… the influx of people on Instagram who provide services similar to mine. I shied away from sharing my genuine expertise because I was afraid.

I have been writing for much of my life, even went so far as to study it at University, and I still didn’t know if my voice was worth hearing. I know my stories are good, I trust in my imagination. I even trust in my writing… But again, there are so many writers out there, there are so many books people would prefer to read, and the voice would slowly fill my head… what were my stories worth?

It seeped into my art, to my jewellery, to all of my making & creating… So many lost art projects, so many ideas floated into nether. You can’t fail if you don’t try, right? The self-doubt bled into the podcasting, putting off speaking into the microphone because yet again – why would people care about what I have to say? And every day, it got easier to ignore it. Every day, it got easier to pretend like I didn’t care.

I told myself it was just so much easier to not even try.

Curled up in my doona, escaping through endless books or shows, hiding from the potential of what I could be. I never considered myself afraid to fail, but wading through the half-finished projects sitting beside my half-drunk mugs of tea, I came to accept that perhaps I was limiting myself. I was hiding and pretending not to care, because it felt easier than allowing people to understand how completely in love I am with what I can do. My default mode – false apathy – would switch on the minute I felt that I was starting to invest in myself.

Perhaps throwing out into the world that I don’t want to sit back anymore, will aid me in changing. Into filling my own cup back up and fighting back with the voice that says I’m not good enough; with a louder one, that says I am, and so much more.

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romanticised ideas

There is a romanticised idea of what writing a book is like; of what being a writer is. Early mornings basked by bitter air and fresh sunlight, your hands moving fast between pencilling an idea down & moving across the keyboard, ideas falling out gracefully. Half-empty mugs of tea, week getaways in isolated places to focus. Listening only to the birdsong.

But it’s disjointed. Messy. Cloaked in self-doubt and often dislike towards your own writing, your own ideas. It’s going in circles, days worth of shit writing that you know you will discard at the end, but going ahead with it because you need some sort of idea to flow. It’s a loneliness, sometimes only living within your head to get the idea into paper. Not knowing whether this story will actually get shared with the world, or move aside with your other tattered manuscripts.

It’s when you’re on the brink of sleep and the perfect prose floats through your head; the inner battle of deciding to write it down or convincing yourself you will remember it in the morning. You never remember it in the morning.

Outsiders’ perspectives that get thrown at you, oh what a blissful life being a writer must be, all the way to I could write a book if I sat down and focused. You are not worth celebrating until you have the words in other peoples’ hands; until your story is praised by other people. Otherwise, what are you doing? Are you wasting your life for only a dream?

Not shown is how terribly hard it is, the discipline, the tearful nights, the awful sleeping patterns, the ideas coming at the most inopportune times. The hard work, the redrafts, the chapters completely disregarded. The utter determination it is to finish, to share, to be rejected (over and over); all it takes is wafting through the many no’s, to the one yes. Because all you need is one yes. It doesn’t end when it’s written, because then you wait until it lands in others’ hands, to hear the criticism and the praise, to know that your story is no longer just your own.

Most of all it is being compelled to tell a story; whether that’s folklore or your very own, a magic world or retelling the lives of others. That there is a pull toward the pen and the paper — with simply nothing else to do but write what is floating around inside your head. The words you write have a purpose. Your story is meant to be read.

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at an arm’s length

It’s funny that every year, you forget what it feels like. The second Sunday of May is ingrained in my head as Mother’s Day. It’s something most of us remember from when we were young and made cards with shitty glitter and flimsy cardboard in school; but those were the cards our mum’s would treasure. So, of course I always know the day is coming.

And every year, I wake up like any normal Sunday and I start to scroll through social media. Every second post and almost every single story is about mum’s. And rightly so. But you forget, every year, the pang you feel. That each year, these people get to celebrate their mum, get an updated photo to share, and get to tell them just how much they love them.

The thing is, over the years it feels like you should feel used to it. Knowing full well that you no longer get to make new memories with your mum, or do little things for her to remind her you love her. You grow older and know this day is hard for many people, from the ones who have lost their mum’s like you, or those who have strained or absent relationships with their own. So you remind yourself you’re not alone, but there’s still pain when all you have is a memory.

It’s the last drop of a discontinued perfume that I’ll never use. I don’t want to lose it. I soak in the smell when I need the comfort of her. It’s the closest thing to remembering what she smelt like. It’s a bottle I know I will keep with me forever and I’m terrified of the day it’s gone. Whether I drop it and it smashes, the smell wafting into the air and escaping. If I have a partner who good-naturedly thinks he’s throwing an old perfume bottle away, and you can’t get mad at him because he was trying to be nice; likely not understanding that that’s one of the few things you have left of her. Because you can have old clothes, photos & memories, but it’s the smell that’s distinct because that’s one of the senses that goes first when losing someone. Maybe one day it will just get lost within moving boxes, or it will simply be misplaced and lost forever.

And these are all hypothetical, but ones that wander through my head often, because I no longer get to make new memories with her. They are stuck where they were then, and even seven years on, it’s hard to know that there won’t be anymore. So I hold on to the ones I have; the clothes, the cards, the messages. The same photos because there will never be anymore; creating art out of those photos in a bid to relive and recreate the same memories we hold on to. The moments I think I hear her laugh in someone else, the nights she visits in my dreams.

She visits my dreams often, but she is always at an arm’s length. My subconscious reminds me, every time, that she’s no longer here so the dream is not real. Not allowing me to immerse in the feeling because I am trying to protect myself from being hurt when I wake up and remember. Time flows freely and suddenly you’re years down the track, but she is still and always will be as young as she was the day she grew her wings. Always a distant but distinct memory. Always at an arm’s length.

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a haze

It’s the trickle of the warm tea down your throat. One you used to love so much, but you’ve lost the taste for it. But you still drink it, out of habit. You wandered so far into the forest of your own comfort, you lost the path to get out along the way.

It’s not that the words have been sucked dry. It’s that you run out of ways to craft the same sentiment. That living is exhausting and dying is fascinating and terrifying. That being in limbo, floating in the in-between, is somehow easier because it doesn’t require much effort either way.

You wake up every day, because you’re supposed to. The motions are always the same. Suddenly you’re washing your face in front of the mirror and you can’t even remember the steps it took to get you there. But you still do it, out of habit. You’re not sure you even recognise the reflection looking back at you.

The kettle is boiling, you look down and you’ve already heaped sugar in your mug. You leave it in there, even though you don’t really like having sugar in your tea anymore. Another old habit, dying hard.

The day moves slowly and quickly all at once. It feels sedate, yet you’re surprised when you notice the sun setting on the horizon. The colours that blend within each other across the sky. You feel an inkling of appreciation, but not enough to soak it all in. So you walk back inside, and wrap your cardigan a little tighter around your chest. Close the curtains and flick the lamp on, leaving an ominous glow about the room. It used to feel romantic, but it lost its fervour along with everything else.

Time folds in on itself and you blend into the haze.

 

 

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your feelings are valid

The phrase ‘your feelings are valid’ may sometimes feel tone-deaf or boring, because why would they not be valid? Isn’t that intrinsically what the human experience is based upon? Why would your feelings not be valid? But in many ways, we may minimise our own feelings in the way we talk to ourselves, or others use language that makes them seem unjustified.

Life, the world and your place in it can be often be more than confusing. You can easily squash what you are feeling down to a pulp, because you’re trying to overcrowd your mind with the idea of gratefulness. That what you’re feeling doesn’t matter so much because you could be feeling much worse. You’re being irrational, over-reactive, paranoid. You may convince yourself that it’s your mental illness talking, or that you don’t even have grounds to feel the way you feel at all without working through the why and trying to understand where it is coming from. Everything you are feeling is worth giving your attention to, because it has grown from somewhere and is worthy of being felt, and being worked through.

Your feelings can often seem invalidated by what someone says to you in response to you sharing what you feel — even if they didn’t mean to do so — (ie. ‘don’t worry, it’s not that bad), or filter into your subconscious from posts floating about on social media about finding the good in everything.

Feelings are not able to be right or wrong. Feelings just are. They are natural sources of information for your brain, and should be treated as so. If you ignore them, try to suppress them, or try to replace them with something else as an easy fix, they will only work their way back in a different way and often in a more intense way.

If you do not allow yourself to feel your feelings, to validate them or to allow yourself to work through them, the stitching on your old wounds may come undone unexpectedly. The pain feels fresh, almost new, as if you had not healed at all. And the process of healing begins all over again.

It’s okay to feel angry at the state of the world, at other people’s opinions. You are completely justified in feeling upset, confused, anxious and unsure. The most important thing to remember is that your feeling, though, is not a reflection on the situation itself; it’s a reflection of what’s going on inside of you as a result of the environment and the state of your mind. Work with yourself in understanding them, rather than against yourself. Allow yourself to feel whatever comes your way; your feelings are valid.

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march reading

I read significantly less this month than last, due to a busy start to the work month which, luckily, set me up enough for this current crazy time we’re living in. I found myself gravitating more towards watching Stan to drown out the thoughts and everything going on in the world – almost to numb my brain – but it felt good to get more into the groove within the last week of the month and read a few books – two of which were un-put-downable. Make sure to take care of yourself in a time like this, whether that’s with a good book (perhaps one of these or january + february reading!), walks, streaming shows, creativity or talking to a pal.

The Fifth Avenue Artists Society by Joy Callaway

The Bronx, 1891. Virginia Loftin, the boldest of four artistic sisters in a family living in genteel poverty, knows what she wants most: to become a celebrated novelist despite her gender, and to marry Charlie, the boy next door and her first love.

When Charlie proposes instead to a woman from a wealthy family, Ginny is devastated; shutting out her family, she holes up and turns their story into fiction, obsessively rewriting a better ending. Though she works with newfound intensity, literary success eludes her–until she attends a salon hosted in her brother’s writer friend John Hopper’s Fifth Avenue mansion. Among painters, musicians, actors, and writers, Ginny returns to herself, even blooming under the handsome, enigmatic John’s increasingly romantic attentions.

Just as she and her siblings have become swept up in the society, though, Charlie throws himself back into her path, and Ginny learns that the salon’s bright lights may be obscuring some dark shadows. Torn between two worlds that aren’t quite as she’d imagined them, Ginny will realize how high the stakes are for her family, her writing, and her chance at love.

I am still unsure how I felt about this book. I loved it first because of its title; I mean, New York and artists? My whole dream. I got even further sucked in through the blurb, because I love me a bit of historical fiction. I think the issue was it was such a slow burn; the beginning of the book felt tiresome as all she did was pine after the man who wasn’t going to marry her, and the second half was a surprising sort of thriller-esque take. It touched upon different socioeconomic standings and the importance that held, particularly back then, but you could also parallel it to now and how the wealthy show in different ways; it also shone an interesting light on how often women were looked over, even in the art scene, because they were mostly considered nothing more than house wives.

I do think, though, if you are into historical fiction and are after a relatively light read, this is your go. The second half of the book makes it far more compelling.

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

What happens when your best friend becomes your worst nightmare…

Having reached a dead end in Boston, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs a change. When she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who is moving to rural Pennsylvania, Leah decides to join her. But their fresh start is quickly threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.

Determined to find Emmy, Leah helps Detective Kyle Donovan to investigate her friend’s life for clues. But with no friends, family or digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Forced to question her version of reality and to save herself, Leah must uncover the truth – no matter how dark or terrible it may be…

The PROSE!!! Megan Miranda is a beautiful writer, and had me admiring her words even in the midst of a thriller. I stopped myself many times throughout the book because she crafted such riveting prose. Honestly, for that alone, this book is worth the read.

The premise of the story was well worth it, too. I had convinced myself I knew what was going on in the first few chapters, and then I was thrown off; only to be thrown off yet again. You truly did not know who to trust. The back stories gave more light into what was happening in that moment, and in the end, all the threads were woven together. Definitely, highly recommend.

The Boy Who Fell to Earth by Kathy Lette

Meet Merlin. He’s Lucy’s bright, beautiful son – who just happens to be autistic.

Since Merlin’s father left them in the lurch, Lucy has made Merlin the centre of her world. Struggling with the joys and tribulations of raising her adorable yet challenging child (if only Merlin came with operating instructions), Lucy doesn’t have room for any other man in her life.

By the time Merlin turns ten, Lucy is seriously worried that the Pope might start ringing her up for tips on celibacy, so resolves to dip a toe back into the world of dating. Thanks to Merlin’s candour and quirkiness, things don’t go quite to plan… Then, just when Lucy’s resigned to singledom once more, Archie – the most imperfectly perfect man for her and her son – lands on her doorstep. But then, so does Merlin’s father, begging for a second chance. Does Lucy need a real father for Merlin – or a real partner for herself?

I only semi-liked this book. I wasn’t sure if it was because I haven’t experienced a life like hers; single parenting a child on the spectrum, let alone parenting at all. Of course I have no idea how much of a bitter taste I would have in my mouth if my husband left me because of our child. This being said, though, none of that has ever hindered my enjoyment of a book before. Much of the fiction I have enjoyed reading is about women in their 30s and 40s, navigating life, love and their careers.

I ended up disliking too many of the characters, except for Merlin (her son), and Archie – though I disliked Archie for much of it because she made sure to paint him as ultra bogan to a point of disbelief. The protagonist, Lucy, is constantly bitter and angry at the world but never seems to want to take advice to help herself.

I think there were just too many metaphors and bitter one-liners throughout; like, no one is even that witty all of the time, so you could tell the author was banking them up over time and wanted to lay them all out for a laugh. That’s the thing – many were funny, but there were just too many lined up in a row.

In saying this, I cried at the end and felt there was some sort of justice, so perhaps it was just a bumpy ride to get to a lovely destination. I would be interested to know the opinion of this book from anyone who has dealt with divorce, single parenting and parenting a child on the spectrum.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

EVERYONE’S INVITED.
EVERYONE’S A SUSPECT.
AND EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT IT.

In a remote hunting lodge, deep in the Scottish wilderness, old friends gather for New Year.

The beautiful one
The golden couple
The volatile one
The new parents
The quiet one
The city boy
The outsider

The victim.

Not an accident – a murder among friends.

!!!! This was truly one of the best suspense/mystery/thrillers I have ever read. I bought it because it was only $0.99 as an ebook – I wasn’t particularly intrigued by the blurb, but it was so worth it and I would pay more just because I enjoyed it that much. I read it all within a day because I didn’t want to put it down. It had me jumping conclusions, playing guessing games to see if I could figure out the ending before I got there, convincing me I had it figured out well before – then throwing another spanner in the works, starting again and doing that tenfold. It even has you assuming it could have been the least suspected person, because there are no limits to the secrets among them.

A PSA: probably don’t eat much while reading if you have a weak stomach; my peanut butter toast was not as thoroughly enjoyed after reading one of the paragraphs about hunting animals.