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Jojo Moyes “Me Before You”

About a year ago I had read Jojo Moyes’ novel “Me Before You”, a love story between an under-privileged girl and a rich handicapped man who meet as Will (the leading male character) needs a caretaker and Lou (the leading female character) needs a job. These characters who come from two totally different worlds find love in the midst of their differences. The novel is strong, exciting, beautiful and devastating.

I cried my eyes out when it ended. I truly can’t think of another book I have read that had this effect on me. I generally am not a fan of romance novels as it is, because they always seem to have an ending just like the last and have the same cheesy story-line. If I ever am reading a romance novel, it’s because I occasionally feel like an easy-read, where the plot is simple and predictable, taking very little effort out of me to read it. I was shocked when I read this novel and it didn’t turn out to be this way. I was also equally shocked when I watched the movie last weekend and found out the movie is just as good.

How many movies are just as good as their novels? Hardly any. One to a million- never as good. This is why I am writing to you today, because I know book lovers like me always feel this way, yet we watch the movie in hopes that it will fulfill us the way the book did, and we are always a little disappointed.
Not this time.
The movie was fantastic and fulfilling to me as a reader. Shocking, I know.

There were a few little points in the movie where I wished it had reflected the novel better, but I think the movie did the best it could at reaching all of those important points without making the movie last longer than 2 hours. In the book, there are parts where the story isn’t necessarily progressing, but in those times we are learning more about the emotions of the characters. This, I think, is the biggest downfall of television. When we read, the story can pause and talk about something else, teach readers something about the characters that otherwise wouldn’t have moved along with the story as it was being told before. These are the subjects in books that we as readers miss out on when we watch the movie, and it frustrates us to the core. We learn more about characters and their relationship to the story in these little lapses in time in novels, and there is simply no translation of this concept in the television script.

The movie portrays the characters only in a dim light compared to that of the novel. But of course, this is to be expected as I had mentioned earlier. Lou’s character, although the movie does portray her this way, is an average-looking, unexciting, underprivileged girl. She has a few quirks that she finds unique, but knows they aren’t redeeming to others. The movie doesn’t describe her feelings towards herself quite at all, but the novel lets us know that she feels she is stuck in a rut, has dreams that she doesn’t believe she will ever achieve, and has a real hard time finding her purpose in her world and the world of her peers, especially Will’s. However, the fact that understood any of this through the movie is a win.

In a way, watching the movie brings the characters more to life than they were in the book. I think as readers we feel the presence of the characters through their emotions, but don’t usually understand them to be real people (of course, because the aren’t). And when we watch a movie based on a novel we have read, we end up very disappointed because the movie never reaches the high-point we got in the novel, leaving readers with no way to even compare the novel to the movie because they seem like totally different stories.

My point, readers, is that this movie did just that. It reached a point of comparison, to where now we can feel the presence of the characters through the emotions of the novel, and understand the characters existence through their actions and visibility through the television screen.

Will’s character in the novel is way more off-putting than it is in the movie. He seems very depressed and very angry, specifically to those who pity him and think they are helping, but aren’t. He’s vulgar, rude, and damaged, all qualities that we witnessed in the movie, but are better understood through the novel. The love Will has for Lou becomes evident way earlier in the novel than it does in the movie, and it is more dreadful to the reader that Lou is unaware. She continues her pathetic relationship with her boyfriend of many empty years, a reflection of her low-ambition that is understood by the reader. While watching the movie, this may not be as clear, however, when they spill their love for each other at the climax of the story, the revelation is is quite an event, and in my opinion, better than it was in the novel.

When Will and Lou finally express their love for each other, Will hits her with news that she absolutely didn’t want to hear. We find out about half way through the story Will’s plans at the end of the 6 month contract he made with his parents, and this is when Lou decides she is going to change his mind, to keep him here, and after she spends some time trying to change his mind about life and what he can still receive from it, she falls in love with him, and wants him to stay for her. This is the beginning of the devastating plot twist we all spent time hoping that would become a happy ending. It does not. It continues to be devastating as Lou decides to never speak to Will again, allowing him to do as he pleases without her having any part in it. We as readers (and viewers) have a huge knot in our gut telling her “Just be with him! You only have so much time!”, which is exactly how I felt while reading the novel, and then all over again when I saw the movie.

The movie was more heart-breaking (but beautiful) as we watch, literally watch, Lou unfold and expose the life she thought she wanted with him, but possibly knew she never would all along. I believe she learned that, in the end, Will was right about what she needed. He spent the whole story telling her that she could be so much more than a young girl working to pay her family’s bills and retiring in the same town she grew up in. He believed she deserved to see the world, to experience the things she only had dreamt of, but never thought she could, and growing bigger than life with him while he is grounded to his wheelchair. After his death, he gave her the means to go and experience life the way he wish he could have alongside her, but knew his health would keep her from doing so, and that she would allow it. He gave her the life she deserved, and he believed she deserved it without him.

DEVASTATING.

But really, it’s beautiful. It can be much appreciated by the reader and the viewer, and even by those like me who don’t even like romance novels. A love that we all dream of having, taken away so unfortunately, but only could have existed in the circumstances given to them. Truly a work of art, the story is brought to us through emotional elements in the novel and supported with advancement in the movie.

Through the look into the physical love between 2 characters who were unlikely to be lovable by anyone else, it was found in each other’s misfortune and celebrated for several more novels that Moyes continued to write. Please, readers, let’s find out what happens with Lou next, together, and hope that the sequel is just as good as the first.

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The Expections of Writers (by writers)

Hello Readers!

I have read blog posts and tweets from other writers where they talk about the writing process- the good and the bad that comes out of writing their ideas. Phrases, lines, sentences, paragraphs- all that come along while trying to figure out what to say to the readers, being great and also not so great.

It’s a funny thing really. As readers, we do expect to read some decent content, don’t we? Why else would be bother opening up our Twitter app or our WordPress reader? Or even a newspaper?

Sometimes we read a post and we laugh because we read it and think ,“Hmm, I have never thought of it like that”. Sometimes we read and think ,“Now that’s interesting, I didn’t know that”. And sometimes we read and think, “That is so creative, what a genius way of putting it”. Of course these are only a few emotions we get out of reading, because as you know, there are a million different emotions in a text (read a novel for goodness sake, and we’ll talk about emotion, right?).

Hardly do I ever read a text and think it was a total waste of my time, or wonder why the writer ever bothered. But as writers, we don’t give ourselves the same credit.

We writers stress a lot about what we are saying in our work way more than we do when reading the work of others. Which makes sense, we care more about our work than how someone else’s turned out. However, we tend to forget we all sit down with our pen to paper and have the same stressors as the next writer, and the writer before us that just made that first book-deal, or reached 1000 followers on their blog.

As readers, we want to read something good. Yes, it is that generic. As writers, we just want to write something good. Again, it is that generic. But we forget that when we write. The word generic when it comes to our writing really makes us cringe because we think every word we write needs to be spectacular. But do we expect the writer of the book we are reading, or blog post we are browsing through, to have been this perfect? No way.

I’m not saying everything we come up with is great content. However, I think all ideas are relevant. I have (many times) started off writing with one topic and ended with a totally different one. Clearly, that doesn’t make for a great content piece, but everything I had said I totally think was meant for the world to read.

Usually when this happens, I break up the story into several different groups and keep the relevant parts for the post I am working on save the others for later. By doing this I end up with several different blog posts summaries that I dig deeper into later, and everything I have to say does make it online.

Since I do this often, generally I work on one project and an idea pops up that references one of the brainstorming-sessions I had before, and therefore that previous idea gets some loose ends tied-up. And sometimes I realize that the old and new project actually relate, and they get mashed together to form a more in-depth content than what I had originally pictured when I started.

Isn’t that just perfect, my fellow writers?

I have seen many quotes on Twitter and other networks from famous writers that talk about the writing process (and oh, it is definitely a process- a hard one).

One of my favorites is one written by Jessica Brody:

“Don’t be afraid to write crap. Crap makes great fertilizer.”.

Yes, it certainly does Jessica Brody. We all needed to hear it. We all experience a similar writing process, with the fails and the wins, but they are all important as we grow our stories into popular blogs and big-seller novels.

I write you this message today (also as a reminder to myself), on a day, like most, that I know you are struggling to say the right thing, to say that everything you have to say can be great with the right organization and context to support it. Yes, it really is that simple. You already know that as a reader since you read “crap” like this all the time, and keep coming back (wink).

I wrote this at 10pm on a day that I decided I needed to spit something out after not having written anything in about two weeks. You can do it too.

You have something to say, so say it, and write it so I can read it. I’ll air-clink my glass of wine with you afterwards.

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“Turtles All The Way Down” Book Review

 

Hello Readers,

I have met my new favorite book.

It’s crazy to say that since I have read hundreds, how could just one be my favorite? That’s what I thought until last night at 4am when I finished this one.

It’s Phenomenal.

John Green- Phenomenal.

It’s a story of a teenage girl, going through normal teenage girl things, and some not so normal. But what part of life is ever normal? And who is to say your life is more normal than mine, or that the grass may be greener on the other side? It never is, so it seems.

Dead family members, stress anxiety, irregular friendships, wondering what life really means- but mostly an adventure. The 2-dimensional view of this book is a few friends get together to find a missing person in order to receive the $100,000 reward. Of course, there is more to it than that, and lives become at stake for the teens who just want their father back.

From the first page of the novel:

“But I was beginning to learn that your life is a story told about you, not one that you tell.”

“Of course, you pretend to be the author. You have to. […] You think you’re the painter, but you’re the canvas.”

Already John Green has you hooked with his reversed personification. What’s more in this book is the close-up view of millennials.

I read somewhere recently where someone said, “The students of the present generation are the first to not take their cultural identity from books.” This book was clearly written for this generation of young adults, and basically is the most relate-able book I have ever encountered. As far as what I take my culture from, I don’t know. But John Green seems to get it.

Aza, the main character, suffers from anxiety, to say the least. Constantly feeling like she is trapped in her own body that will inevitably kill her one day, her mind spirals out of control with the notion that she something is hurting her that she can’t control, and she won’t ever know when the bacteria is killing her because her mind will be taken over by then, by the germ.

Aza says eventually, “Rather it hurts is kind of irrelevant.” Also, “True terror isn’t being scared; it’s not having a choice in the matter.”

As I said, this is the part that is not so normal about her teenage life, but obviously, a frequent problem young adults deal with every day. Also, something that isn’t mentioned much, especially in a fiction novel such as this one. Thank you, once again, John Green.

The novel is quite humorous. I found myself laughing in many instances, especially at the narrator’s best friend Daisy. She is strong and a light to be around. Hilarious, and afraid of nothing. A little self-centered, but caring. A great counter-part for Aza, and a real reflection of a millennial.

In chapter 6, she receives a dick-pic as fan mail for her Star Wars fan-fic blog. She states:

“I mean, how am I supposed to react to a semi-erect penis as fan mail? Am I supposed to feel intrigued?”

Aza replies:

“He probably thinks it will end in marriage. You’ll meet IRL and fall in love and someday tell your kids that it all started with a picture of a disembodied penis.”

This is so 2018 because we all know dick pics hardly ever go over very well, especially as an introduction, and is always fun to talk about with your girlfriends at an Applebee’s with a coupon in hand. It would even be more cliche if we found out the perpetrator had taken the pic with a flip phone (haha).

Daisy also compares her new boyfriend’s looks to that of a “giant baby”. And later decides she doesn’t want a relationship with him, as they are difficult, but to instead be “friends with benefits”. Of course, a total 2018 reference as we live in the world of Tinder and such high divorce rates, it seems silly to even be in a traditional relationship anymore. Or so it seems.

When Davis comes in the picture, life hardly changes much for Aza, which we hoped it would. But again, does that happen in real life? Hardly is it ever convenient. Davis is the oldest son of our missing person. His father has become missing to escape a fraud and bribery investigation, leaving his two sons behind with the estate and it’s workers to take care of them. Aza and Davis knew each other as children, and Daisy convinces Aza to reach out to him in order to find the whereabouts of his father to collect the reward. At this point, I found myself thinking this was going to be a book of revelation and closure for the characters, as they may find a valuable lesson that is unclear at this point of time, but I was wrong.

In chapter 7, I made a note saying I thought this might end up being an interesting crime novel. At this point, the book is giving a lot of insight to the trouble Davis’s father is facing, and the peer-investigation between Daisy and Aza is intriguing. After chapter 19 I wrote in the margin, “For a while, I thought this was an adventure novel, not anymore.”

The novel moves forward with the relationship between Aza and Davis, and Aza and herself. She constantly is questioning the meaning of “me”, with her therapist and her peers, but mostly with Davis. Both Aza and Davis have a dead parent, and both constantly feel misunderstood by their remaining parents. It seems as though neither of them has a close relationship with anyone, even Aza and Daisy, who are best friends, seem to not really know much about each other, and the secrets they tell are on the surface.

Once it seems that Davis and Aza are dating (use the word dating loosely), they connect on a level that only the two of them can understand and seems like a once-in-a-lifetime event for the beloved characters. I understood in chapter 13 that John Green has his unstable characters fall in love to prove their presence. That they are relevant, even when they don’t think so.

In reference to Davis, John Green inserts many quotes from inspirational authors in this novel, along with some online-journaling of Davis’s. I thought about how creative this is, to write a story inside of a story, a story that is not the author’s, but also it is. John Green is able to write in words and sentences that flow so well that it seems like it comes easily to him. I couldn’t help but be envious at this point.

Daisy’s motive of the investigation was to earn the money so she could quit he minimum-wage job and live a prosperous life as a high school student. To Aza, although she was doing it for Daisy, she wanted to help Davis and Noah more, and later learned that that was more important than a large sum of money. Our characters to tie up their loose ends by the end of the book, and I am glad for that, but also wanted to read so much more.

Our characters to tie up their loose ends by the end of the book, and I am glad for that, but also wanted to read so much more. On page 260 I thought to myself that I know there are only 20 pages left but so much more than I want to know that it would definitely need to take up more than 20 pages. Heartbreaking and unsettling as it seems, it was incredible. John Green is a master of breaking my heart and putting it back together with scotch tape, which somehow I am okay with, although it is not the same as I felt before, I am okay with it. Bravo.

Read it.

 

 

 

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Motivated Blogging

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Hey Readers!

We all experience the same struggles as writers, and especially as bloggers. Not knowing what we are doing wrong when can’t get followers- it’s hard to get noticed! Especially in the beginning.

I read this book yesterday that is basically the months we have all spent gathering information on how to blog from the internet, all rolled into one book.

Amazing right! Too bad we didn’t all find it earlier.

Although the first half of the book is teaching you how to physically start a blog (picking a domain, a hosting site and figuring out what you want to write about), there are still some amazing tips in here that help out even us who have been blogging for several months (or years)!

For instance,

  • Tips on how to make money (which I think we can all appreciate)
  • Tips on social media- how to take advantage globally!
  • Examples of what great blogs look like
  • What Google looks for with SEO
  • How to stay organized! (thank you for that one)
  • Staying motivated through all the mess we call life
  • And of course, how to get and keep followers

That last one is what we all really want, right? To BE READ. Not all of us are here for the money or to come off as know-it-alls about our subject. We all simply want to be influences on other thinking-minds and to be noticed by our peers. We keep typing away and hope that it makes a difference.

This book told me that it does, usually, make a difference.

There are 250 million blogs online, and a majority of them are abandoned after year 1. The trick is to keep moving forward because it takes time as all things do. What we are passionate about, we are definitely not the only ones, and grouping ourselves with like-minded people and their blogs can really make a difference in your view of your own purpose.

Sitting at the screen and not knowing what to write, or if people even care what you say, is just you in your own head. All the rich bloggers out there KNOW that you care, otherwise, they wouldn’t be such awesome blogs, right? HELLO. EARTH TO BLOGGERS. You are here for a reason. Tell us about it, whatever it is.

And tell me, what do you struggle with the most? Also, read this book.

“Blogging for Writers” by Robin Houghton

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Online Bookstore Launch

Hello Readers!
I have finally launched my online bookstore that I have been dying for months to get done. I sell used books online right here from my website!

Has anyone ever found inspiration in a dream they have had?
I woke up one morning after a few months of being active on my blog and really getting serious about my writing career. I dreamt that along with my blog and freelance writing aspirations, an online bookstore would add even more excitement to my new realization that I was meant to be a writer after all.

If you have read some of my previous posts, especially the ones when I was still and undergrad, you know that I have struggled with my confidence as a writer for a long time. I spent most of my college career trying to find something sensible to do with my passion for writing and books, because being a writer, and making a career out of it, seemed like a real reach for the stars.

But here I am!

And it just keeps getting better and better.

My bookstore includes several different genres for your liking, and I am adding more and more books each day.

Here is the link: https://readforthesouls.com/shop/

If you visit my website (www.readforthesouls.com), it also pops up under the menu.

Furthermore, I am taking requests for books if you have something in mind but are having trouble finding it. All of the books are $5.00 plus shipping!

Happy reading everyone!

 

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The 7 Ways to Survive College

Dear Fellow College Students,
We all have struggles. Trust me, figuring out how to get to class on time will not be your only problem. You made it through high school, great. We all thought that was never going to end, but here you are. You made it. The rest of your life has begun and this is just the beginning. Choosing your career is your first milestone for your future, that is why the amount of success you have these next four years is very important. You have so much to learn and so much to live for, believe me, you are still so young, even if you feel so grown up. I am here to tell you how to survive this part of your life, because it is going to be tough, so pay attention.

1) Save Money

The 7 ways to survive college are all equally as important, so there is no particular ranking to this list I am giving you. You have to save money. One weekend you will go out with your friends and spend nearly all the money your parents gave you. Trust me, that dollar amount is never enough. You have no idea how to budget. If they gave you $1,000 a week you still would find a way to spend it. Don’t. You know nothing about money. Think of it like this, the less money you have, the less food you will eat, and a lot of the time you will be starving. Also, this advice will help you even after you graduate. So save your money. Listen to your mom when she says that to you, because she does know what she’s talking about. Speaking of your mother, call her. She misses you about 10 times more than you miss her.

2) Read Everyday

Text books are your best friends these next four (or more) years. There are classes that are extremely easy- be thankful for these. That “A” you see on your transcript at the end of the semester may be the last one you ever see. Now, that is not to say it is impossible to get an “A” in a hard class. You can get an “A”, you really can, but it is going to take a lot of work. Reading your text book is the simplest way to study. Really, you learn a lot just for reading it. There will probably come a time when you think you can skate by doing the bare minimum for a class, trust me, reading your text book IS the bare minimum. So do that, at least. Walk in to every class saying “I need an “A””, and your rest text book because it definitely won’t be a waste of time. Binge-watching 3 seasons on Netflix however is a total waste of time.

3) Go to Study Groups

I know this is tough. It will require you to sacrifice some of you spare time and maybe some sleep, but this is important. Studying as a group helps you see other ways of understanding the same issue at hand. What you’re confused about may be the same thing that others are confused about, and maybe you both don’t see how to ask for help, but when a group of confused students get together with their notes and textbooks, you guys will collectively find the answer and see many different ways to understand it. You need that. College will require you to think in ways that you aren’t used to. You spent very little time in high school using critical thinking tools, and that has left you under-prepared for college. This is a time for learning and you are not alone. Every person in your class is in the same boat as you, even when that boat is sinking. Working together is another simple way to get through this just like reading your textbook. There will be several times that you have to study way harder and do a lot more work than just read your textbook and go to study groups, help yourself now by taking advantage of these two simple ways to learn.

4) Make Lists

It’s easy to forget important things that you need to get done on any given day. It’s even easier to forget to do the important things that you absolutely don’t want to do. Sure, you want to succeed. You want to have a successful future. You want to make straight “A’s” and have a 4.0 GPA. But none of us actually want to do what it takes to get it done-work. Your first year is going to be all boring classes, classes that will mean basically nothing to you. This is tough, so you need to get yourself in a routine that will help you get all of those crappy assignments done. Make lists that show you what needs to be done at any given day of the week. Consult you syllabi, yes, your professors gave you these, and yes, they are important. Schedule the due dates and schedule times to study before hand. You may think you can get everything done in one night, but you can’t, and if you do this you will get behind, and your grades will suffer. Schedule time to relax also because this is tough work, and you’re doing it all on your own, no one can do this for you.

5) Be Selfish

This is one of the most important times in your life. You are going to learn so much about yourself and about life in your college career, so you need to make sure it’s not stripped from you.Keep going. Take out another student loan, take that class over again that you got an “F” in, and definitely don’t let love get in the way of your college degree. When you walk that stage and shake the Dean’s hand, you have achieved it. No body can take that from you, ever. Wait to get married until after that day happens. If your love is true, it can wait, and it will stronger after you have finished. Take the time to do this for yourself and forget about everyone else. Life is full of reasons not to do something this important. Trash those reasons. This is your time to draw-out your future, and it’s just the beginning. Embrace it and keep going. Also, stay in school as long as you possibly can. After that first degree, after you have achieved the ultimate goal, if you get the chance to keep going, definitely go. Go until you physically can’t anymore, until you run out of money, until you have more college hours than there are hours in a month. Education is a gift, receive it util it’s done giving.

6) Make Time for Yourself

This may seem like it falls under the last tip, but this is different. What I mean is, when you’re being selfish for your degree, remember that you’re doing it for you. You are on your own side. It is easy to forget that and it is easy to think you are your own worst enemy. Stop thinking that. Don’t work yourself to death, there are ways of getting what you want without sacrificing everything near and dear to you. Remember what I said earlier, schedule time to relax along with scheduling all the work you have to get done. Also, don’t neglect your health. Go to the gym, there is always time for that. Don’t spend all spring break studying, even if one of your Professors assigns something for you to do. Hang out with your friends, go home to visit your family, take a road trip, you need it. Don’t lose sight of your hobbies either. Sometimes your hobbies are related to your career choice, and they always are related to who you are as person and a professional, and that is absolutely important. Keep going with everything you do in your life because everything is important.

7) Have Fun

It may seem like over-kill by now, but this is your life we are talking about here. Everything you do, everyday adds up to who you are. The good and the bad, the successes and the failures, the fun time and the boring times. Surviving and succeeding in college requires you to give it your all, just like everything in life does. Remember that you are here for a reason, that you have a deep connection with why you are here. Maybe you have a love for animals and a love for helping them, so you are going to school to be a vet. You are going to wake up every morning one day and save many lives of animals, and you are going to have a blast doing it. If you are not sure if that is going to be fun then you need to rethink you major. You have a passion, everyone does. Embrace it, live it and chase it.

Go to school and be that person you dream of being. Don’t stop for anything, and study hard. Work for everything you get and make sure you hold on to it as long as possible. It is absolutely worth your time, so stay as long as possible. Relax because you can do this. Make time for your friends and family, and save every penny you can. This is the advice I can give you to survive this time in your life. Be positive everyday, because I know you can do this, I am rooting for you!