Classic Horror and True Romance

poorthingsA Book Review of Poor Things, by Daniel Barnett

Find it on Amazon HERE.

Anyone who has read my reviews for a while knows that I’m a huge Daniel Barnett fan. I was thrilled to hear that his latest book, Poor Things, might fall into the YA spectrum. Barnett’s writing is pure poetry, and this one is his goriest, grittiest yet. I’d say it rests rather precariously on the young adult line, and it would certainly appeal to adult horrorphiles, because this author never pulls any punches and his hits can be brutal. Poor Things is bloody and frightening, with language not meant for virgin ears. Parents, if you think your little miracle isn’t ready for something along the lines of Stephen King’s scariest tales, this isn’t their book.

For more mature teens: dive in. Poor Things is also beautiful and touching, a poignant coming of age story.

Main character Joel has it coming from the first pages, as the bullying, arrogantly jocular older brother to a wimpy, pimply, book-reading nerd. You’ll know immediately if you can’t handle Poor Things, because Joel loses everything (including that little brother) in a violent car crash before you can even blink. The change in him is swift and soul deep, and we experience this story through his new life as a crippled nobody in a tiny mining town.

This life changing event, this one tragic moment, serves to destroy and create. It’s a common theme with Barnett—tear it all down, build it all back up—and something worth pondering for any young reader, especially in those days before the brain has developed enough to understand consequences. Physically incapacitated by his broken body, Joel’s mind speeds ahead: “Adolescence is an earthquake, one that feels like it will never end while you’re living it, and eventually there comes a choice. You can crawl under your desk and hide, or you can stand up on top of that shaking desk and dance.”

He isn’t the only character I fell in love with, not by far. The heavy metal loving tomboy with a white-blonde buzzcut, Ash, is one of the strongest female supporting characters I’ve met in a long time. She’s cool, she’s smart, she’s tough, and she’s best friends with the biggest dork outcast in school. Ash is all soft underneath, and yes, though Joel is paralyzed from the waist down, there is the possibility of romance. It’s hard to say who is the hero of Poor Things, because throughout most of the book, Ash saves Joel’s derriere again and again. Without her, he could never have…sniff…well, you’ll cry at the end, too.

The town of Honaw itself has enough personality to be thought of as another character–an odd and mildly disturbing one from the beginning. Or, rather, the thing which lies beneath Honaw engineers that creep factor. Okay, that’s it! I can’t say any more or I’ll give it away. Yet, bells and whistles aside, this is a classic monster tale. No monster I’ve ever imagined, however. Only Daniel Barnett could imagine such a strange, sad, dangerous beast from the depths of time, and only this guy could make me love that thing by the end.

This review was written for YA Books Central. Check it out HERE to find out more about the book and the author.

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I Vowed I Would Never Make Hippie Dippy Jewelry, But…

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I do now.

With spiritual stones and crystals, no less! Above, you see CarnelianTiger’s Eye, and Jade–all of them used for their healing properties.

How did this happen? It’s not like I don’t already have enough creative projects running simultaneously to ensure I never finish them. Maybe that’s the point: keep creating regardless of the end game.

But, why jewelry?

It all has to do with two recovering addicts, a homeless friend, and a happy little boy. And, BANG! Jewelry making has become one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in a long time.

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About a month ago, I decided to work on balancing my chakras with Kundalini Yoga & Meditation. The fire wasn’t lit with, but was definitely stoked by, a book I found in my favorite hippie dippy shop in Orlando, Spiral Circle. By the way, if you’re interested in exploring this, I highly recommend starting with The 8 Human Talents, by Gurmukh.

My nature compels me to seek out every bit of information on a subject, no matter how seemingly insignificant. So, instead of simply working with the one book, each chapter devoted to yogic technique on enlivening each chakra, I went all out.

What is the special mudra (hand gesture) for muladhara (1st, or root, chakra)?

What pranayama (breath) do I use to focus during meditation?

What animal totem can I visualize for swadhisthana (2nd, or sacral, chakra)?

What incense to burn?

What tea to drink?

What sounds to listen to? (Turns out there are recordings of Tibetan singing bowls for each chakra, that you can buy on iTunes!)

And, of course, what crystals or stones are associated with each chakra? Because every piece of info I found led to another, as it often does in the information age, and I kept seeing references to crystals and stones.

Enter, two recovering addicts.

About a year ago, my best friend Sally (who I believe to be definitely recovered, but I guess that’s a thing: you’re always in recovery) was the lucky recipient of another person’s relinquished addiction. This lady was addicted to collecting gem stones, and I suppose the gem stones themselves. I don’t know if it was a hoarding thing, and then the power of the stones also took over? All I know is my friend now has a buttload of crystals and gems and stones–boxes and boxes and boxes of them.

Sally doesn’t necessarily consider that a good thing, and she surrenders them freely to anyone. She had even learned to make jewelry with them, to sell on eBay and such.

I didn’t really need them and I don’t wear jewelry much, though I thought they were lovely. Until the chakra balancing began…

Enter, a homeless friend.

Jeez, I’m not going into that here–that’s far beyond the scope of my humble post. Suffice it to say, homeless friends can complicate situations, and Sally and I…lost touch for a snippet of time.

But, I was knee-deep in my chakra balancing and I needed to put those stones on my body somehow! Thankfully, I had already procured the stones, yet I had no idea how to make jewelry, especially hippie dippy jewelry! Jewelry making was never in the plans.

Plans change, my friends. Float along or drown in the deluge.

And, as my favorite horoscope caster says of the Ares (me):

“Ares, the visionary, the optimistic heart, the one who believes a skill they don’t have is just something they haven’t learned yet.” —Gala Mukomolova, Galactic Rabbit

I drove to Michael’s, I bought some tools and wires and hooks, and I learned to make jewelry. Probably badly, but it’s really fun to see something beautiful completed so quickly. Most of my art takes months, if not years, to complete.

Enter, a happy little boy.

Well, at first he was very unhappy, and this is the strangest thing yet about chakra balancing with Kundalini Yoga & Meditation. My son and I are so close that he seems to be picking up on it, on the soul level.

I’ve been spending 7 days on each chakra, meditating and doing yoga every morning before Liam wakes up. Last week, I was working on my solar plexus chakra, the human talent of which is commitment and purpose. The shadow emotion (what you feel when you have problems with this chakra) is anger. My son had a couple very angry episodes, which were quite out of character, before I figured it out.

Yesterday was the first day that I worked with the heart chakra.

I’ll admit it, that first morning was rough and it continues to be. In the beginning, for me anyway, there seems to be a serious healing-from-old-wounds thing happening. Right before Liam woke up, and I was pondering my morning meditation (and all the angst and loves lost from years and years of dating), I looked at the Rose Quartz necklace I had made.

I am just not comfortable wearing a pink crystal necklace.

I don’t know why. I have a huge, gorgeous chunk of Rose Quartz that I keep on my woo woo altar for the morning soul purge, when I meditate. My psychic tells me it will be ugly and gray by the time I’m done with it. Works like a charm and I love it.

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A pink necklace just isn’t my style, though, so I chose one of the other stones that are supposed to be good for the heart chakra: Jade. About that time, my son woke up, sleepily surfed around for a minute on his iPad, and found a slice of what sounded to his ears like a sad love song: Clarity, by Zedd.

He started bawling.

This child knows nothing about complicated love stories. But his mom does.

In short, I let him wear the pink necklace. Rose Quartz is supposed to carry a “soft feminine energy of compassion and peace, tenderness and healing, nourishment and comfort.” Perfect for my sweet son at that moment.

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I’m so glad I opened my mind to jewelry making!

He wore it all day…and made me listen to that song all day, to which I privately, inwardly wept. Maybe I’ll wear the pink crystal myself next time. Better make another one.