Down the TBR Hole: Horror Edition

Easily one of my most favorite memes ever, Down the TBR Hole is such a blast! Not only does this feature help shrink my ever-growing TBR list, it aids me in reevaluating my bookish tastes. Originally created by Lia at Lost in a Story, the rules for this fun meme are simple:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf
  • Order by ascending date added
  • Take at least the first five books
  • Read the synopses of the books – which I personally don’t do, as I explain in Synopsis Free – I enjoy being surprised by a book’s content too much!
  • Decide: keep it or toss it

P.S. Lia has since moved to a new blog, Sunflowers and Wonder.

In the spirit of October and of course, Halloween, this installment, my first on The Wispy Reader, is dedicated to the horror genre!

Psycho by Robert Bloch

Honestly, I don’t know why I wouldn’t adore this book: after all, I love the movie adaptation! I also loved the series based on the story, Bates Motel. Anyhow, I’m excited to scare myself with this sure-to-be creepy read!

The Verdict:

Make me psychotic.

Carrie by Stephen King

Another tale that I have only seen the movie adaptation of, Stephen King’s Carrie is a book I’ve wanted to read for a long time. I think the creepiest part of the movie, at least, is poor Carrie’s insanely religious mother – and I mean INSANE!

The Verdict:

Can’t wait to meet you, Carrie!

The Shining by Stephen King

More Stephen King! LOL! Yet another movie adaptation I’ve seen, but have neglected to read the book thus far, The Shining has been on my TBR list for ages. I heard recently that King was extremely disappointed in the film version, as he felt it does not capture the essence of the story. I’m anxious to find out what the differences are between the screen and written versions!

The Verdict:

Shine on, you crazy diamond.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

How could I possibly drop the horror classic Frankenstein by Mary Shelley?! One thing I find incredibly interesting is the origin story behind Shelley’s writing of Frankenstein. From what I remember, Shelley, her husband, and another author challenged each other to write a horror story, and thus was born Frankenstein!

The Verdict:

Call me Magenstein.

The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule

A nonfiction serial killer story totally deserves to be among the books featured here! Ann Rule’s The Stranger Beside Me tells the true story of Rule working alongside the infamous Ted Bundy, all the while ignorant of his demonic true self.

The Verdict:

Rule me in.

Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi

Lo and behold, it’s another nonfiction horror story – the infamous tale of Charles Manson and his ‘family’ murdering innocent people in their own homes. Manson’s cult personality fascinates me – as in I can’t imagine having the scary ability to control others, especially to the point of driving them to murder.

The Verdict:

Scare me silly.

It by Stephen King

Wow, Mag, you’ve got a LOT of Stephen King on your TBR list! But, what else can you expect from a master scary storyteller?! I’ve seen the original movie and part one of the remake and they both left me hungry for more story, background story, to be precise!

The Verdict:

Clown me in.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho has been on my TBR list since I saw the movie version YEARS ago. While I love the big screen adaptation, I’m hopeful that the book will be even creepier; the movie is creepy, but a bit campy.

The Verdict:

I’m proud to be an American!

Halloween Party by R.L. Stine

I’m practically a lifelong fan of R.L. Stine; the Goosebumps and Fear Street are two of my favorite series of all time – and I certainly haven’t outgrown them! With most of the other books on this list being pretty long – It clocks in at over 1100 pages! – Halloween Party will be a refreshing retreat!

The Verdict:

I’ll be at the party!

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Although I have zero clue as to what Ness’ scary story is about, I know I want to read it – just look at that creep show cover! I have heard nothing but positive reviews of A Monster Calls and Ness’ work in general. I’m excited to break the spine on this one!

The Verdict:

Call on me.

Scared shitless, Maggie

Museum-Worthy Titles

Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl, is by far one of my favorite, and most consistently done, over the course of three different blogs, memes. Each week, a prompt for TTT inspires bloggers to create lists based on that week’s topic.

This Tuesday’s subject is ten extraordinary book titles. The list idea was submitted by Elise at A Book and a Cup.

I absolutely love the title The Library at Mount Char, not only is the book seemingly about a library, it’s apparently located at Mount Char, which is eerie in itself!

Scott Hawkins’ long tale, about which I know nothing except I want to read it, beckons to me with its cover as well.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell is not only a book I’ve been dying to read forever, it possesses one of the most iconic titles I’ve ever heard.

While I’ve seen the movie version, starring the fabulous Vivien Leigh, Mitchell’s classic not only defines Southern plantation culture during the reign of the American Civil War, it’s home to some of the most amazingly well-developed characters I’ve ever met!

Say Cheese and Die!, by R.L. Stine as part of his classic Goosebumps series, has always been one of my favorites, not only because of its excellent title and cover (LOL), but because I remember its story being really entertaining!

Not only is Leo Tolstoy’s classic Anna Karenina one of my most favorite books of all time, it possesses a title that simply, yet decadently, rolls off the tongue. I remember discovering I had been mispronouncing the title my entire life upon my discovery of it when it appeared as a chosen book of Oprah’s Book Club! I like the way it’s really pronounced better!

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite in J.K. Rowling’s iconic series. Harry Potter’s name in itself is so well-known and is the perfect moniker for the bespectacled boy, who works to solve the mystery of the elusive Azkaban.

Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become the Person You Were Meant to Be is such an excellent title. While I have yet to read Rachel Hollis’ self-help tome, it’s coming up soon in my library queue!

Its title sucks me in with the very first words – girl, wash your face! I need to start somewhere and making a routine of washing my face DAILY is a great place to start!

I have never read Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls; however, I definitely want to change that fact soon. While I’m pretty positive the story follows a boy and his dog, I’m admittedly not very sure. I do know that the title draws me to it in a major way.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is, in my humble opinion, a terribly boring book; however, it possesses a gorgeous title. Prior to my reading of the classic, my imagination ran wild pondering possible plot points. Unfortunately, the book just doesn’t live up to its name.

Pet Sematary by Stephen King has always fascinated me not only because of its creep show story line, but because of the spelling of its title – Sematary – the purposeful misspelling gives me chills even more than the cover I chose.

A title that beckons me to read the book it names is Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. The late chef and author always struck me with his unapologetic and dynamic personality and the title of his first book gets those traits across loud and clear.

Tuesday is not gone with the wind, Maggie

The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye

I began watching The Walking Dead on AMC during its premiere season, when it was still good and made sense – sorry, not sorry. Anyhow, I gave up on the show during the Terminus season; it just grew to be incredibly silly and tough to follow.

However; although I quit the show, I am loving the graphic novels on which the TV show is based. Here is, of course, my first installment of Walking Dead series reviews. I must say with surety, the books top the show BIG TIME.

What I Expected

  • Basically a word-by-word recap of a slice of the first season of The Walking Dead TV series
  • Zombie cheese
  • Amazing artwork

What I Got

  • A tale drastically different from the show’s story – in other words, a tale on which the show is merely based
  • Sort of silly illustrations, which fit the story nonetheless
  • A new favorite series to read and a newfound love for graphic novels

What I Thought

The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye opens with Sheriff Rick Grimes waking up in a hospital after being in a coma for a month, only to discover that the world has changed forever – dramatically. 

Shortly after awakening, Rick runs into exactly what has caused the virtual end of the world – an infestation of zombies of unknown origin. Rick slowly makes his way home, only to find that his neighborhood – and his hometown – have been abandoned.

Rick meets a pair of strangers, a father and son, who ultimately opt to stay behind as Rick heads off for Atlanta in search of his wife and son. After a long journey, involving both a car ride and hitching a horse, Rick finally runs into Glenn in the heart of Atlanta. Glenn shows Rick the ropes, including the importance of restraining from using gunfire when hordes of zombies are lurking.

Glenn leads Rick to his family – his wife Lori and son Carl – who are shocked to see him alive, living in a camp with other apocalypse survivors – Allen, Jim, Dale, Carol, Andrea, Sophia, Amy, Donna, Billy, and Ben. Rick meets and greets the additional survivors and slowly begins to trust them – they are one. 

While Rick and the others attempt to block out memories of the past, Rick becomes suspicious of his old friend and partner, Shane, who seems unusually close with and protective of Lori. 

Soon after Rick’s arrival, the group debates leaving the camp; however, Shane vehemently stands against doing so. Meanwhile, Rick teaches Carl to shoot, much to Lori’s dismay. Ultimately, Carl’s newly developed gun skills pay off, as he saves Rick’s life in an unlikely way.

The thing I enjoyed most about this first volume is the fact that it is similar to, yet vastly different from, the synonymous TV series. For instance, Daryl is not introduced in this installment and the whole scene which involves Daryl being handcuffed to a pipe and then chops off his own hand to free himself never occurs. 

I was grateful to discover that the show does not follow the graphic novels exactly. Volume one is a great introduction to the plight of the survivors of the zombie outbreak.

Like most of the graphic novels I’ve read, Days Gone Bye is fast-paced and features amazing illustrations. With 28 total volumes to date, I look forward to following the adventures – and misadventures – of Rick and company.

5 world-ending stars*

Pleasantly surprised, Maggie

A Spooky Sporadic Update

Sporadic Update is inspired by The Sunday Post, hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated reviewer. While this isn’t necessarily my own take on the meme, I post sporadically, hence the category name! LOL! Anyhow, the meme is basically intended for bloggers to catch others up in their lives, bookish or otherwise.

Then

Most recently, I read a graphic novel based on the Nintendo game, Street Fighter, which was entertaining, as I have always adored the game! Street Fighter, Vol. 1 by Ken Siu-Chong, left me wanting more of the series! Street Fighter’s characters are so well-developed and amazing already!

I also finished Murder, She Knit, first in the Knit and Nibble series by Peggy Ehrhart. Quite a few of y’all commented on the cuteness that is the book’s cover and, let me tell you, it is an AMAZING cozy!

The Graphix edition of Boy-Crazy Stacey by Gale Galligan is crazy good! If you loved the BSC, you’ve GOT to read these graphic novels based on the original books! The Voice on the Radio by Caroline B. Cooney is very entertaining and a quick read, but, be forewarned, is a tad corny! LOL!

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier is another graphic novel I loved. I am so goofy; I just realized that Sisters is the second book after Telgemeier’s Smile! LOL! It gets on my nerves so bad when I accidentally start a series out of order; but, I know I’ll like the first since I love the sequel!

I also recently read the second installment in Rachel Renee Russell’s Dork Diaries series, Tales from a Not-So-Popular Party Girl, and absolutely loved it! I’m so glad I found this lighthearted series!

I was honored to have had the opportunity to read Ashley Poston’s The Princess and the Fangirl as an ARC. While the story was great and I love the characters, it’s tough to top Geekerella, Poston’s debut.

Another book I recently fell in love with is The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. The book is a collection of excellently-written vignettes by the author. The super short stories weave together seamlessly to form a beautiful story.

Now

Well, let’s just say I’m OK…I had a really weird weekend and I don’t really want to spill my guts, but, it was weird nevertheless. In good news on the home front, my boys got back to me this morning from their Dad’s. They can make anything better, even when they’re going wild!

As far as reading goes, I’m getting overwhelmed with the daunting task of finishing all the books that I want to this week/month/season/year, that I’m almost getting to the point where I’m dreading reading anything. I hate this feeling…any advice?

Bookishly, I’m actively reading Until Friday Night by Abbi Glines and I love it! I don’t even mind sharing my name with one of the main characters!

Additionally, I’ve got a few cozies to devour and I’m really looking forward to them all! I’m really hoping to get back into the reading spirit FAST!

Among the cozies I’m gearing up to read are holiday-themed reads. Murder + cheer = unputdownable!

Have I mentioned that I LOVE a good cozy mystery?!

Off and on – since I’m sometimes a slow reader- I’m making my way through my first Alison Weir book, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, a thus far beautiful – and thoroughly researched – nonfiction behemoth. I read as much as I can when I have it on loan and then again after it cycles back after being returned.

I’ve also got a few other library books I’ve either got on hold, on loan, or on my wish list. Some of my books, like Dan Brown’s Origin, I’ve chosen to take breaks from for a bit. I’m 60% through Brown’s fifth Robert Langdon mystery, but my reading of it came to a halt in favor of lighter reading.

Soon

I introduced a little girl close to me to the Dork Diaries series! I get so tickled thinking that me – pushing 40 in a few years – was able to recommend a cute and adorably entertaining series to a tween! It kind of makes me feel cool – which is kind of lame! LOL!

I’m reading the third book in the series, Tales of a Not-So-Talented Pop Star, at least within the next nine days, as following day nine, it’ll get sucked back into the library stacks!

Later

As y’all may have noticed, I’ve created a page dedicated to beloved childhood books and series I plan to reread, especially over the course of next year. Since I haven’t met my Goodreads goal of 50, instead falling behind by 12 books, I certainly hope to up the ante next year.

Hanging in there, Maggie

Synopsis Free

Synopses of books = spoilers for me. I don’t even read summaries on hardcover jackets or the backs of soft cover books. I feel like too many plot points are given away if I read synopses/summaries. I do adore reading reviews – they are generally spoiler-free and I really enjoy seeing others’ opinions of both books I want to read and  those I have already read.

I like to dive into a book headfirst – without knowing much about it, except maybe a basic overview. I crave the element of surprise when I read. I also tend to pick up books solely based on their covers – that’s how I discovered my favorite book of all time, Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina! I picked up the Oprah’s Book Club edition on a whim at Books-a-Million seemingly a hundred years ago and instantly fell in love with everything about it – the plot, the writing, the characters, even the length.

Additionally, I find that I am often disappointed in books featuring brilliant synopses – if something doesn’t live up to my sometimes lofty expectations, I’m crushed. For instance, books claiming to be disturbing are typically not disturbing enough for my taste. 

If I read a certain something in a summary, I want to really be hit with that something as I read. This may sound odd to some, but I like horror, gore, trauma, and tragedy. Therefore, if a book claims to contain any of the aforementioned traits, I expect to be creeped out, grossed out, and/or incredibly disturbed during and after my reading. 

I find myself to consistently be disappointed with the content of memoirs that are supposedly really true to life and tell of tragic tales. Some examples of books that didn’t seem to delve into the facts enough, in my opinion, include A Child Called it by Dave Pelzer, Night by Elie Wiesel, Running with Scissors by Augusten Burrows, and The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Bruce D. Perry.

When reading a supposedly dark and tragic memoir, I want to actually FEEL the pain experienced by the author telling his or her personal story of survival. The above mentioned books all received one star ratings from me on Goodreads because I DIDN’T feel the horrors experienced by the authors. Sometimes I wonder if publishers tone down particular books – if this is the case, I wish the practice would stop.

The same goes for works of fiction – if a book claims to be of the horror genre, I want to be scared to death – scared enough to sleep with my lights on, scared enough to seriously have nightmares. Some ‘horror’ tales in which I was incredibly disappointed include Peter Straub’s Ghost StoryAnna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, and M.R. Carey’s The Girl with All the Gifts.

Veering a tad off subject, it also kills me when books start out SO well and then take turns for the stupid. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold quickly pops into my head as I think of silly endings. I also got sick of reading Red Winter by Annette Marie and absolutely hated Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch and The Secret History

I was super disappointed in both of Tartt’s tales I mentioned, as the author has a gorgeous, flowy writing style – the plots just didn’t enthrall me or seem to go anywhere. The Secret History and The Goldfinch each feature incredibly intriguing synopses – I was just sorely disappointed.

In the case of The Lovely Bones and The Girl with All the Gifts, I was devastated with how the plots went from amazingly absorbing to goofy and predictable. I could probably dedicate an entire post to my horrible disappointment with the ending of Sebold’s novel. I don’t want to give anything away to those who haven’t read it, but The Lovely Bones practically jumps off a cliff into crazy land near the end, rather than coming to a realistic conclusion.

Anyhow, enough ranting about goofy books and back to the subject at hand – my decision to stop reading synopses. As I stated earlier, I want to be surprised by a book – completely. Plus, it seems like those who write summaries for book jackets and backs feel the ridiculous need to cover every single plot point in the books, making me feel like I’ve read entire stories before cracking the books open. 

On the other hand, some books with seemingly silly synopses end up being among my favorites, like the majority of cozy mysteries, especially the books belonging to Lilian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who…series. Cozy summaries often make books sound silly, when in reality, they are amazing, fast reads. 

I figure by avoiding synopses/summaries, I can keep my expectations at rock bottom and in turn be surprised when a book turns out to be amazing. I mentioned this earlier, but it really grates on my nerves when synopses seem to basically belong on a Cliff’s Notes cheat sheet.

How do you feel about reading synopses/summaries prior to reading books? Oftentimes, I’ll finish a book and THEN read the synopsis, just to see how much of the plot is given away in said synopsis. I’m happy just knowing the genre in which the book I’m aiming to read belongs. I just cannot stand it when I go into reading a book with basically a bullet list of each plot point included on the back of a book or inside the jacket.

Love, Maggie

I Want Candy

OK, so, I must first say that I had this post scheduled and it posted before I ever had the chance to actually write it! LOL! Y’all who liked my super rough draft prior to me fixing it, THANK YOU! Y’all are too sweet and I hope you got a good chuckle out of it!

Today, I want to discuss CANDY! What better time to do so when Halloween looms just around the corner?! Just to get this out of the way, I WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOUR FAVORITE CANDY IS!

Like probably the majority of us, I absolutely adore candy, of many different kinds – chocolate, naturally; chewy Sweettarts; caramel, with chocolate or plain; Twizzlers; caramel cremes; Mounds and Almond Joy; Kit-Kats; Snickers; Milky Way Midnight; peppermints; 3 Musketeers; and way too many more to list here!

I have, sadly, encountered some candies that I just don’t mesh with. Number one is the new Butterfinger! What the hell?! Why on this planet would they mess with the original recipe?! Butterfingers don’t have their trademark crunch anymore! I don’t understand why the new Butterfinger isn’t marketed as just a different kind and the originals were kept on the shelves…RANT OVER.

Typically, I’m not a fan of dark chocolate, unless it’s mixed with stuff like caramel and a variety of other fillings. For instance, I mentioned above that I enjoy Milky Way Midnight. I also adore York Peppermint Patties, which are also covered with dark chocolate.

White chocolate – which really isn’t ‘chocolate’ at all, is just plain weird to me. I really don’t mind it in small doses, unless it’s mixed with a filling or covered with something else, like Hershey’s Kisses Hugs!

I used to despise candy corn; however, it’s really grown on me over the past few years. There’s something about its taste, barring the weird texture, of course. Anyhow, it’s such a good candy to munch on, especially in homemade trail mix! P.S. My cousin makes THE best of the snack!

Junior Mints are my absolute favorite to get during an excursion to the movies! I love to mix them with heavily buttered popcorn! YUM! What’s odd is that I rarely buy Junior Mints outside a movie theater. I guess I associate them so much with movies, it just doesn’t feel right to get them just at random!

Boxes of chocolate are also amazing! The assortment of flavors is so much fun! I rarely check out the chart included that states the types of chocolates to be found in the boxes, unless, of course, I don’t know what I’m eating for some reason! Whitman’s Samplers are by far the best chocolate obsessions. I do know for a fact that the little pieces with the postman on them are milk chocolate only! My favorite morsel found in a Sampler is by far the one with a maple filling! 😀

The BEST Trick-or-Treat Candy

  • Hershey’s Kisses
  • Runts
  • Nerds
  • Snickers
  • Milky Way
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  • Laffy Taffy, especially banana-flavored
  • Whole candy bars! 😀
  • Whoppers
  • Hershey’s bars
  • Reese’s Pieces
  • Twix
  • York Peppermint Patties
  • Junior Mints

The WORST Trick-or-Treat Candy

  • Peanut butter log things
  • Gum
  • Cheap stuff that isn’t good
  • FRUIT – especially raisins
  • Candy corn – at the time I was actively trick-or-treating
  • Milk Duds – they stick to my teeth something awful
  • Gummies – unless they were covered with sugar or slightly sour
  • Tootsie Rolls!
  • Anything homemade

Now y’all know what to and what not to get me for Halloween! LOL! 😀

What did or do you like to see in your trick-or-treat bag?

Sugar, Maggie

Bagged, Vol. Two

I love to change up bags often, not only pocketbooks themselves, but wallets, cosmetic bags, and cases as well. Not long ago, I posted pictures of the bag I was carrying at the time in volume one of Bagged. Anyhow, the purse I was using holds lots of stuff – crap, if you will – and I soon grew tired of carrying so much said crap.

Therefore, I downsized to my current pocketbook, a green leather number decorated with stitched, beaded patches, by Sam Edelman. This particular bag holds SO much less than does my previous satchel, forcing me to bare down to the essentials. I realized I didn’t need to carry so much with me constantly, which was a tough conclusion to which to arrive!

I love the bag’s appliques – I just regret that some of the beading has come loose on the golden star; however, this fact does not interrupt its kitschy charm. I can’t decide whether the fish is a koi or catfish…I’m leaning toward koi, but my son says catfish – what do y’all think?

Love, Maggie

Emotional Roller Coasters

Having had intense anxiety my entire life – I can remember feeling anxious throughout much of childhood – has honestly held me back from being the best I could have been, but it has also taught me a lot about myself. Along with anxiety, I have experienced intense depression.

My depression has admittedly been bad enough that I wholeheartedly wished to die at one point. During that particular deep depression, I lost enough weight to get down to a size two – I usually fluctuate between sizes six and eight. I was too afraid to go through with suicide, so I hoped to get caught in a deadly interstate pileup or even contract a terminal illness.

My anxiety has also been strong enough to make me super anxious to drive, even in my small hometown; now, luckily, that spell has passed. I also got to where I would stay up one or two days in a row, often with my mind racing with worry. I’d get energy bursts and then fall back into a depressed state.

In my late twenties, I was finally diagnosed as bipolar, which made so much sense, considering my uncontrollable behavior and moods I have experienced throughout my lifetime. Even in childhood, I knew something was ‘wrong’ with me – turns out I was very different after all, but now I know why.

I think a lot of people in my high school class, especially other girls, thought I was a weirdo due to my odd behavior and mood swings. No one understood me – I didn’t even understand myself. I experienced so much anxiety during my freshman through senior years that I would wake up and literally vomit – for no reason other than being freaked out – prior to leaving for school.

A gastroenterologist even accused me of being bulimic – this was before I was finally prescribed anti-anxiety medication after a doctor figured out I was throwing up all the time due to my anxiety. I was incredibly insulted by the doctor first mentioned – my mother and I literally laughed in his face!

When I left home to attend a large university – a bigger mistake than I could have ever imagined – I really went down. I was unable to sleep at night due to racing thoughts and I got to where I slept all day through my classes, some of which I stopped attending altogether during my fifth semester.

That final semester at the university came immediately following the horrific and untimely death by accidental overdose of my best friend. I wrongly assumed that changing locations – getting the hell out of my hometown – where memories of my friend were everywhere – and returning to school four hours away.

Once again, I stayed up all night, self-medicated, and slept entire days away. I was utterly miserable. I also had zero support system at school that last semester – one of my roommates flipped her lid, apparently, and never knew of the death. My other roommate, who had also experienced an untimely death of a friend, ditched me for her boyfriend. I was all alone.

During my tween years, I remember thinking that I had everything I could possibly need and want, but wondered why I was still so unhappy. Looking back, I wish I had sought therapy and medication if needed much earlier than at 19 years of age. My life really changed for the better once I was prescribed medicine by my psychiatrist.

Now, I’m proud to say that I believe I am taking the correct medication cocktail mixture to keep me stable. Sure, sometimes I still cycle through mania and depression, but the spells are nothing like they were prior to my receiving an ultimate diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Mental illness is often genetic and it definitely runs on both my paternal and maternal sides of my family. My maternal great-grandfather committed suicide; my older brother is autistic, causing his mental state to deteriorate with age; I have bipolar cousins; much depression and anxiety is present in my family history as well.

The moral of my telling of this history of mine is for y’all who suffer from mental illness as well – I want you to understand you are certainly not alone in experiencing such pain and suffering on the inside. It took me a long time to figure out that others are in the same boat, dealing with mental illness and treatment daily.

Finally, don’t forget to report to your medical caregivers of the mental health history in your family, as genetics play a huge role in the development of mental illness. Don’t be ashamed to seek treatment; think about others needing you, how you can set an example by caring for your emotional health.

I know it’s so much easier said than done to perform the aforementioned tasks – I know that when one is stuck in a spiral of depression or any other mental illness, it’s difficult to recognize that something is indeed misfiring in your brain. Seek help. While it took seemingly forever for me to receive a final diagnosis, I figure better late than never!

Maintaining sanity, Maggie

My Type

Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl, provides prompts each week inspiring bloggers to create lists based on the week’s topic. This Tuesday’s prompt, submitted by Hannah, curator of Books, Life and Other Oddities, is to identify character traits beloved by each participant.

I love a good villain! DEVIOUSNESS is definitely a favorite character quality of mine! Among my favorite bad guys are Victor Vale from V.E. Schwab’s Vicious and Draco Malfoy of author J.K. Rowling’s world centering around beloved character Harry Potter. I think I enjoy villainous behavior because I couldn’t imagine doing the things the antagonists do!

CLEVERNESS is another trait I covet with regards to fictional characters. Amateur detectives, like Nancy Drew and those starring in cozy mysteries, immediately come to mind. It fascinates me how protagonists in mysteries are able to solve cases, even without the help of authorities.

In my eyes, BRASHNESS, SARCASM, and HUMOR go hand in hand – is that the right saying?! LOL! Anyway, female characters who possess the aforementioned traits I find to be very entertaining.

The classic UNDERDOG is whom I generally root for – hell, doesn’t everyone? LOL! Even if the character doesn’t experience a happy ending, I still can empathize with him or her. I’m sure we’ve all been the underdog at some point in our lives; I know I have. Characters who defy the fictional odds and lose rather than win in books are so REAL.

Claudia Kishi of The Baby-sitters Club fame has so much original STYLE, which is so inspiring. She is truly her own person and comfortable in her own skin. CONFIDENCE also fits well here.

ALOOFNESS is another trait I like for characters, whether male or female, to possess. Perhaps I am partial to reading about this particular aspect of a character’s personality because I can relate, as I was very aloof while growing up, probably due to intense shyness and anxiety.

I grew up participating in nearly every sport imaginable and still dabble a bit in athletic competition. Therefore, I enjoy ATHLETICISM in a character. The books that first come to mind are Abbi Glines’ Field Party series as well as the Hundred Oaks series by Miranda Kenneally. I’m currently enjoying Glines’ Until Friday Night and loved Kenneally’s Catching Jordan.

Characters who are BOOKWORMS are also fun to read about; I can quite obviously relate to them! I love books about books, regardless of genre! I also adore when authors include real books within their stories.

MAGIC is always fun to read about, in any form – alchemy, special powers, wands, coolness. I really enjoy the magical aspects of Feyre in A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. I also love fairy tales and most of the retellings I’ve read – they, quite naturally, involve magic in some form.

I’m SOUTHERN and I really enjoy reading about fictional southern characters, who are genuinely well-written, developed, and not made to seem like hicks. We may speak with a different dialect and accent than do those in other parts of the country, but we’re not ignorant. I simply appreciate true depictions of the South.

Happy Tuesday, Maggie

Views from the Stand

I was a lifeguard for six summers back in the day. My lifeguard training class was very competitive and awesome; I learned the perfect way to swim freestyle, thanks to our wonderfully hilarious and tough instructor, Cheri, may God rest her soul.

Being a lifeguard made my summers throughout high school and some of college; it enabled me to have some of the best times ever, to meet people I never would have known otherwise, and to prance around the pool as I walked from stand to stand.

Not only were those summers a blast, I also learned a lot about leadership and responsibility. Not only was I one of the kids charged with ensuring pool safety, I was deemed head lifeguard at my’ pool during my final two summers there.

After lifeguard training, where I learned all four of the primary swimming strokes – freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, and butterfly – I joined our local swim team and found a new passion for swimming. I’d always loved to swim, but doing so competitively was a whole different ballgame.

One of the best parts of life guarding was sitting on the stand, overlooking my section of the pool and observing swimmers’ behaviors, especially those of adults. One incident that stands out in my mind is the time I was posted on the shallow end’s stand and happened to glance down at two women standing and talking in the water. Friendly warning – don’t piss in the pool! One of the ladies peed during her conversation and I literally saw the yellow cloud surrounding her! Trust me, I haven’t dared pee in a pool since then!

The most coveted lifeguard stands were located in the deep end, where there were two diving boards. I always loved watching cute boys do tricks off the boards and was even treated to some excellent belly busters! I remember forcing myself not to laugh, but to remain calm and concerned.

One of the most horrible things to happen at the pool one summer occurred when half of our lifeguard staff got fired, leaving four guards for the last half of the summer – at an Olympic-sized pool. This meant that the four of us had to take hour long shifts on the stands, which is much more exhausting than it sounds – we all savored our breaks, when we could play! But, we lost breaks after the four fired and moronic guys got caught smoking pot at the amphitheater directly behind the pool!

The pool is located in our local state park, meaning getting caught with drugs there is kind of a big deal. I’ll never forget spotting the asshole park ranger literally running at full speed – I figure he got a tip – toward the amphitheater during the puff fest to bust the ding dongs smoking out in the open – while on lifesaving duty. I will admit that I toyed with joining in on the smoking of their joint; luckily, I was on the stand and had zero choice in the matter.

Anyway, the guys were fired on the spot and probably got simple possession charges. The four of us guards remaining were not happy, to say the least, especially since we didn’t have substitute guards – some state worker BS – to fill in for the dumbasses. Unsurprisingly, I was grateful for the rest of that particular summer to go by; I spent my evenings exhausted and going to bed by 8:00 PM, probably because I was so hot and dehydrated from near-constant stand sitting.

Shockingly, throughout my six year tenure at the park pool, I never had to jump in to rescue any swimmers. I did, however, scream at perverts to  get the hell out of MY pool – yes, I claimed ownership, in my own mind, of my beloved pool. I recall a particularly creepy creep, whom I spotted going under water immediately after young girls in bikinis would go off the diving board, probably hoping their tops would fly up, which they probably did, upon hitting the water.

So, I stopped everyone from jumping off the board and probably screamed there was a lurking pervert and I know I raised my shades and gave him a serious evil eye. The last straw came when he started going underwater and checking out my precious cousin’s butt – I went off! I realized he was carrying one half of a pair of goggles, so he could easily hide his eyepiece and spy at underage girls.

Anyway, I yelled for the nasty man to get over to my stand, yelled at the top of my lungs that he was perverted and made him give me the goggle piece he seemed to be so proud of. Not long after I embarrassed this jackass, he left and never returned, much to my satisfaction.

The main thing that irritated me about this particular pervert was the fact that none of the male lifeguards would make a move and confront the guy, which doubly pissed me off. So, I obviously took matters into my own hands, humiliated the fruitcake, and apparently intimidated him enough to keep him away from my pool for the rest of the time I was a guard.

In a nutshell, I adored my years of life guarding – I truly enjoyed some of the greatest summers of my life. I branched out of my shell, met all kinds of people, and gained so much confidence. But, I knew when I was ready to retire – after the most horrific summer of my life. That summer, way back in 2003, I lost my best friend to an accidental drug overdose, got zero sympathy from my fellow lifeguards – even though he died early one morning and I went to work in utter shock – and all my cute guy friends finally grew up and got summer jobs of their own, meaning I felt so alone the second part of that summer.

I remember one of my boy buddies asking me if I was ready to go back to college, four hours from home, that fall and I said, “Brian’s dead and I hate my job, so, yes.” I’ll never forget that – ever. I never dreamed I would grow to despise being at my pool, but I did. It was good timing to give up my life guarding career. I had seriously wished I could simply be a guard for the rest of my life.

But, now I look in the rear view mirror at some of the best memories ever, and, sadly, a few of the worst. Fortunately, the good definitely outweighs the bad when it comes to my life guarding experience and I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. The ultimate moral of the story: DON’T PISS IN THE POOL – LIFEGUARDS CAN LITERALLY SEE EVERYTHING, including the ring of bright yellow urine surrounding you! 😀

YOLO, Maggie

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