#worldkindnessday Walking The Talk

Since today is World Kindness Day, I’ll share some of the wisdom I’ve gained. I grew up in an abusive home where kindness was rare and bitterness prevailed. My days were spent surrounded by unhappy people who passed that unhappiness onto anyone who happened to be near. I can’t count the times I listened to my own flesh and blood excuse their terrible behavior on the fact that it had and was also happening to them. 

The old, “if i have to go through it, so do you” thing. I didn’t understand it then and as I’ve gotten older, I understand it even less. Being hurt is not a rite of passage. Life does not have to be a contest of who can endure the most. 

I’ve seen this thinking translate into other aspects of life as well. One of those is the way people discipline their children. The whole “I was spanked and I turned out fine so it must work” nonsense. It never ceases to amaze me when otherwise progressive and intelligent people spout this crap at me. People who base every other belief they hold in life off evidence and sound research fall into this trap and I just don’t get it. The studies are there. The proof is there. We know it doesn’t work. What’s left to justify? 

This applies to pretty much everything. Societies cognitive dissonance has disastrous results. We see homeless people and assume they are homeless by choice. They “didn’t work hard enough” or they “don’t want to work” ect… This is a commonly held belief even in the face of cold hard facts. Facts like the minimum wage being an unlivable wage. We KNOW for a FACT that it’s not enough money to pay rent. Yet, we refuse to raise the minimum wage. We expect people to make something work that just won’t. It’s madness.

We KNOW that our healthcare system is broken and people die due to lack of coverage or access to care. We KNOW this. The proof is in our faces at every turn. 

We know that our education system has failed. Especially here in Oklahoma. We KNOW that it’s not being properly funded. We know Standardized Testing does tremendous harm. We know that rigid adherence to a “sit down, shut up and memorize” method to teaching is a failed model. We know all of these things and yet it’s defended and the cycle continues to destroy unabated. 

Think of how far we could be as a species right now if our approach to everything was kindness. If we extended our empathy passed ourselves or our immediate family. If we actually cared about others well being and success and actively worked to help everyone reach their full potential. 

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Just stop and think about what our society could achieve. Think of a world where no one goes hungry. Think of a world where no one has to sleep on the concrete under an overpass. Think of a world where each and everyone of us was cherished. 

This isn’t impossible. It doesn’t have to be hypothetical. All it takes to realize this reality is to be kind to everyone. 

Let us be the craftsman of this world. Let us stigmatize cruelty and selfishness. Let us think beyond ourselves and break this violent cycle of trial by fire.

Let every single one of us look at the hurt we’ve felt and pledge that we will not be the cause of that in another. 

Let us not live a life of endurance. Let us live a life of experiences and fulfillment. 

Let us not just survive, but actually live.

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Streaming Services – I’m not paying for 20 of them!

Has everyone heard the rumor that Disney, among others, are planning to yank their content from Netflix and fire up their very own streaming services? I don’t know about you but this has me 17 kinds of angry. 

If you’re asking me why this makes me so angry ( I know you probably aren’t but this is called AlliesOpinions so buckle up buttercup) I’d be happy to tell you. 

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Listen up, I’m not paying for 18,000 streaming services. Actually, it’s not even that I outright refuse (which I do) it’s that with stagnant wages and the ever increasing prices on basic necessities….I DON’T HAVE THE MONEY TO PAY FOR THEM. That’s right, it’s just not there. 

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You know what I am going to pay for? Netflix. You know why? BECAUSE THEY WERE HERE FIRST AND THEY HAVE A FAIR PRICE.

Trust me when I tell you that I REALLY wanted to see the HULU series about the Handmaid’s Tale. You know what I did? I used that free subscription and then I canceled that baby. BECAUSE I AM NOT GOING TO PAY FOR A SHIT TON OF STREAMING SERVICES. I’m just downright not going to do it.

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If everyone who makes a series or a movie or a crap load of movies thinks they are going to convince people to pay for 18,000 different subscriptions, they are greatly mistaken. Hell, most people don’t even have satellite anymore. They don’t need it. As soon as my stupid contract is up, I won’t have it either. I don’t enjoy having a measly 20 channels that actually show interesting stuff but have near constant commercials. Want me to keep buying your satellite service? Cut the commercials down by a lot. Cut the bazillion of  “As Seen On TV” channels selling stupid crap I can buy at damn near any thrift store. I’m over it. We’re all over it. No one likes you. No one wants to buy your stupid crap.

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I know you’re thinking that people will want to see your movies so bad that they will just give in and pay for it. Nope. That’s assuming that the money is there to do that with. Which it isn’t. I’m not the only broke lady either. There’s millions of us and none of us have the time or money for this nonsense. 

I’ll keep my Netflix. I’ll sign up for your stupid free subscription and then I’ll cancel the heck out of every single one of your stupid services before you can get a dime out of me. Seems the only power the little people like me have is with our dollar. You won’t be getting mine. 

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Nasty Comments & Crazy People

 

       I would say that this must be the week of the crazies but honestly I seem to draw a fair amount of them most of the time. Usually the nasty comments are mostly on Twitter but it seems they’ve migrated to my blog. Damn it Yay! 

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Wondering why you haven’t seen them? BAN HAMMERED those bastards I don’t approve nasty comments. If you just disagree with me on a book or a subject I won’t censor your comment but if it’s advocating violence or you cussing me out….yeah, I’m probably not going to let it post. 

           I got one the other day on my post about Oklahoma Turnpikes from forever ago (way to creep my page weirdo) that called me a bitch and told me if I didn’t like how things worked I should start ‘slaughtering politicians’…… Uhm…. holy shit this guy has lost his fucking mind Wow that guy is unhinged. I do not now or ever suggest that anyone “slaughters” anyone else….ever. He went from 0 to ape shit immediately.  Calm the heck down bro! Take a chill pill ( do people still say that?). I’d rather just vote out politicians whose policies I don’t agree with. Killing them is a bit harsh…I mean…if I killed every person I didn’t agree with….there wouldn’t be many people left. Plus, I’m a lover not a fighter. Peace is an actual solution people. Oh, and as of now, I’m still legally allowed to complain when politicians do stuff I don’t like. So, I think I’ll raise my voice and not a weapon because murder is a big fucking deal and I’m not about to take someone’s life over the dollar or so I have to pay to drive on a road. I mean, get perspective. 

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As if that wasn’t crazy enough, I’ve received about 20 emails from some guy pervert  asking me to review his graphic erotic novel……NO means NO fella. Just….read my damn review policy and these types of crazy situations won’t happen. When I said no he got his panties in a bunch upset and said it’s my fault his book can’t get any reviews…..dude, I’m not responsible for what other reviewers are telling you. 

To top all of that off, when I was mowing my backyard yesterday a rabid probably rabies infested tiny mouse ran up my BARE LEG till he got to the edge of my shorts and ran back down and away. So, I’m probably going to die thankful he didn’t decide inside my shorts looked like a path he wanted to take. 

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Oh, and I found a dead mole on my doorstep this morning. So, yeah. Good times.

 

Dystopian Novel Societies & Their Impact

Dystopian novels are super popular and I know I’m not the only one who has given serious thought to how crappy existing in one of those societies would be. Dystopian novels burrow deep into our psych and give us way more than just entertainment. This genre has a power that most others just don’t. Novels like “The Handmaid’s Tale” influence politics and it’s symbols have been used in many a protest in an effort to protect women’s rights. Novels with that kind of power tend to find themselves quickly thrown into the “banned book” pile with lots of outrage on both sides of the aisle. There’s been so much outrage regarding this particular book that it’s found itself on the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books list for 20 years. At my tiny high school in Oklahoma we most certainly didn’t read it. I read it on my own and it was eye opening. I’ve since read it at least 30 times and it hits me just as hard as the first time, every time.

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I think what is most haunting about “The Handmaid’s Tale” is that Atwood wrote only about restrictions that have actually happened in real life. Most of the time books that are based off truth make me very nervous but what really gets my cogs turning is the books that speculate. Books like “Life As We Knew It” or “The Last Orphans” open a window of possibilities. The scenarios in both of these books are completely out of the blue and throw the world into chaos. It’s those scenarios that scare me the most. There is no where far enough to run in these worlds. “The 5th Wave” is another one that leaves me shaken.

I’m thankful for the freedom that remains in fiction and it’s ability to bring to life every scenario possible. I would like to see these writers given more credit for the depth of influence their writing has. Seeing the extreme consequences of an action either by a government or a natural disaster gives us the ability to see the ripples possible with every decision we make as a populace. There is no price tag on preparedness. 

Another thing to consider is how dystopian writers explore ethics of science and religion. It’s like the saying “just because we can doesn’t mean we should”. I know with the rise of CHRISPR and even when stem cells were beginning to be used, religious leaders were and are in a bit of an uproar. I’m not against either of these but I’ve seen a lot of people throw one heck of a fit about it. From what I’ve seen personally, I think a lot of the anger has more to do with a lack of understanding then anything else. While I know that the US public school system struggles to fund even the most basic of an education…. I am thankful that books and movies help bridge that gap some. The real solve for this issue is a better education and I feel that superstition will fade with better understanding. In the meantime, I would like to see books and movies come even closer to actual science and explore further. 

While on the subject of ethics, I’d like to bring up how dystopian novels also breed enormous amounts of empathy. One book, “The Dean Machine” flips the script on puppy mills. Instead of dogs, the appalling conditions are experienced by humanity. Dylan Lee Peters dives deep in his book and it’s one of the most eye opening and disturbing things I’ve ever read. It also made me take a deep look at society and it’s treatment of animals in general. Author’s have a lot of power in this regard. They literally help shape public opinion and can make real changes with the power of their words. 

What are some dystopian stories you’ve read that shook you? 

Check out the books mentioned in this article below!

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I guess I always felt even if the world came to an end, McDonald’s still would be open.

High school sophomore Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when an asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth, like “one marble hits another.” The result is catastrophic. How can her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis are wiping out the coasts, earthquakes are rocking the continents, and volcanic ash is blocking out the sun? As August turns dark and wintery in northeastern Pennsylvania, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

Told in a year’s worth of journal entries, this heart-pounding story chronicles Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all—hope—in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world. An extraordinary series debut!

Susan Beth Pfeffer has written several companion novels to Life As We Knew It, including The Dead and the Gone, This World We Live In, and The Shade of the Moon.

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One horrifying day will change the life of sixteen-year-old Shane Tucker and every other kid in the world. 

In a span of mere hours, the entire adult population is decimated, leaving their children behind to fend for themselves and deal with the horrific aftermath of the freak occurrence. As one of the newly made elders in his small town, Shane finds himself taking on the role of caretaker for a large group of juvenile survivors. One who just happens to be Kelly Douglas—an out-of-his-league classmate—who, on any other day, would have never given Shane a second glance. 

Together, they begin their quest to find out why all of the adults were slaughtered. What they find is even more horrifying than anything they could have expected—the annihilation of the adults was only the beginning. Shane and his friends are not the unlucky survivors left to inherit this new, messed-up planet. No, they are its next victims. There is an unknown power out there, and it won’t stop until every person in the world is dead. 

the-5th-wave    After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother–or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

 

The Dean Machine Cover  Meet Dan Delacor, an utterly boring citizen of Yellow City. Every day he puts on his yellow shoes, yellow shirt, yellow pants, and yellow tie, and catches a ride on the Tunnel Runner from the suburbs into downtown. He has a job, a home, and a girlfriend, and he never wonders what waits beyond the giant glass wall that surrounds Yellow City.
Except… Dan isn’t as boring as he seems. He often wonders why everything in Yellow City has to be yellow. He wonders why he suffers frequent anxiety attacks, and why he can’t help himself from strolling through dangerous neighborhoods, or running wildly through the fields that separate downtown from the suburbs. Mostly though, Dan wonders why he can’t remember how he lost his right arm, or anything that happened before five years ago.
So, when Dan’s mundane yellow world is interrupted with the seemingly impossible presence of a little red dog named Dean, he quickly finds out there are answers to his questions, and that everything he knows is a lie.
Follow Dan as he learns the secrets of his true identity, the scope of the world beyond the wall, and the true intentions of Yellow City’s mysterious leader, Chancellor Elgrey Vinsidian. Meet Wendy, the twelve-year-old girl on a rescue mission, Echo Valkzdokker, the woman with a love for danger, James Perkins, the wily pilot who has a way with words, and Bianna Kensington, the cold-mannered rebel with a cause. Look through the cracks of this new world with Dan as he learns why his little friend is nicknamed The Dean Machine, what special bond they share, and why the dog deserves a legacy that should live on forever.

He lives to love.
He would die to protect.
His heart is a machine.

Why should you read book reviews?

Why should you read book reviews?

For most of us deep in the trenches of the book world this kind of question has a pretty obvious answer. Our books are our lives and we live and breath each part of every story. We well know that each person’s reading experience is unique and having an intimate view of our favorite stories from all angles is what dreams are made of.

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There’s also a practical side to book reviews. For the prospective buyer, it’s a great way to try before you buy. Most reviewers are careful to avoid spoilers so it’s a great way to know that the book you’re buying is the book you thought it was. Summaries can be tricksy sometimes and I’ve been burned more than once by them. Like most people, I am on a tight budget and nothing makes me more angry than using my few funds to buy a book that was nothing like the summary said it would be. Ever seen the movie “Inside Out”? I look a whole lot like “Anger” as he melts the window. 

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Checking Goodreads or Amazon and having the ability to read a plethora of reviews brings me all kinds of happiness. 

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Another great thing about reviews is that when you’ve read a book that hits you so hard it changes the landscape of who you thought you were you get to brag to everyone about it in your review and help a great book gets loads of attention. 

Should people get paid to write a review and if they do should you see that review as tainted?

I probably have a less than popular opinion on this because I think that paying someone to write a review is fine. I don’t see that the author of the review earning money for their work is a disqualifier for honesty. Some of the most in-depth and thought provoking reviews I’ve read have been from people paid to write them. I love when someone puts time and effort into a review to shape it into this beautiful opinion on a story that deserves it. I’ve read paid reviews of books that got horrible reviews. Turns out, those horrible reviews came from more than just that paid reviewer. Sometimes, a book sucks. Sometimes an author tries to put out a crap product that they try to pass off as great and that sucks. It really does. When I read your review of a book, I don’t care if you were paid to write it or not. I am looking for how the book moved you…or didn’t. I want to know about the book….not your income. As a reviewer, I base my opinion on the content of your reviews. That’s it. If your reviews are wildly opposite to others, my opinion of your honesty is based on that alone. 

Why is someone earning a living from their writing even an issue? I mean, there is a clear divide on it and I can’t figure why so many people are against paying someone for their abilities. Not everyone can write a great review. Not everyone has the ability to decipher meanings or explain why a book just doesn’t work. It’s not helpful to an author to get a review that just says “your book sucks”. How does it suck? What exactly has gone wrong? You want authors to turn out a great product but they need guidance like the rest of us. With the rise of the self-published movement, authors could use more back-up. I see reviewers (paid or not) as a great way to get that back-up. 

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Let’s empower writers of all kinds to come together and build great worlds with great heroes! 

 

Contests – Yay or Nay?

As of now AlliesOpinions only runs one contest. The Battle Of The Book Cover. The cover with the most votes gets a free book spotlight. I like the contest and enjoy seeing why people pick one cover over another but am having issues with getting people to vote.

I enjoy blog contests and regularly participate in them. I love helping well deserved authors get some attention for their books. Contests have brought amazing stories into my life.

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What say ye fair patrons of these vast interwebs? Do you like blog contests? Do you participate in them? What’s the make it or break it for you?

 

Discussion Topic – The Never Ending Series

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How many of you have found the perfect series and wished you could live there forever? This happens more than I care to admit. I’m a series kind of person. I don’t want to visit new worlds. I’d rather kick off my shoes and stay awhile. 

I have found a couple of authors whose series has no end in sight. One series has more than 20 books! Yes, I’ve read them all….don’t judge me.

Each time one of these authors releases a new book, I often see people commenting that the author just needs to let go and move on. This has me wondering how popular the never ending series is. To me, as long as the books are good reads I could careless how long the author decides to keep the series going. I am a fan of the never ending series. 

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How about you?

Do you think there should be a limit on the number of books in a series?

 

My Marriage Advice

The opinion of most in my generation is that I got married very young. My husband and I were both 21 when we said our vows. It’s been six years now and we are still going strong. There were a lot of people who told us that we wouldn’t make it. They told us we were making a huge mistake. People say a lot of things.

The truth is, we have made it. Yes, it has been hard. However, it hasn’t been hard in the ways they said it would be. 

They said we still needed to “shop around”. Nope, still happy with my “purchase”.

They said we needed to be kids and make mistakes. Uhm…what mistakes? Cause most I can think of will get you thrown in jail and ruin your life. Don’t think I’m interested in making much of those.

They told us we needed to really get to know each other. I think we knew each other pretty well. 

Recently a few of my friends have gotten married. Here is my advice to you and anyone else who might be interested. This advice is good for both sides of the coin. Women or men.

1: Listen.

You are your spouses closest confidant. No matter how trivial you think their problem is, listen. It’s not trivial to them or they wouldn’t be upset about it. Be their friend. Give them an ear of understanding.

2. Communicate.

If you are upset about something your spouse has done or not done. Tell them. They aren’t mind readers. Don’t come at me with the “they should just know” bullcrap. No, they shouldn’t. Don’t scream and yell. Don’t cuss them out or throw crap. Don’t act like a damn fool. Just talk. Explain your feelings.

3. Share Hobbies.

Don’t divide yourselves into “men stuff” and “woman stuff”. Get involved in each others activities. Be friends. Play games. Read books. Hike. Find common ground.

4. Be Appreciative.

When your spouse does something kind, acknowledge them for it. Every single time. Even for things as simple as vacuuming the floor or loading the dishwasher. Let the other person know that you noticed. 

5. Don’t divide over finances.

Don’t fall into the trap that so many do. Don’t look at that empty bank account and the mounting bills and blame your partner. (Unless they purposefully created the mess.) Bills are going to drown you. Living is expensive. Don’t blame your spouse for your countries economic failures. 

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6. Build each other up!

Keep hope alive. Help your spouse realize their dreams. 

7. Stay on the same page!

Talk about everything before you do it. Make sure that both parties are happy with decisions.

8. Never stop trying.

Don’t get complacent and forget about each other. Don’t drift apart. 

9. Trust one another.

Don’t be controlling. Don’t spy on your spouse. Don’t be insanely jealous of every female/male that speaks to them.

10. Be worthy of trust.

Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Don’t mislead. Treat your spouse how you want to be treated.

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That’s all I can think of for now. It’s really not all that hard. I can pretty much sum all this advice into two words. Be considerate. There is going to be tough times. Don’t give up. Work it out (within reason). Remember why you married the person you did.

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Do you have any advice to add? Let me know in the comments! 

 

 

Discussion Topic: The Evolution of a Book Reviewer

I’ve been reviewing books for awhile now. When I look back on some of my first reviews and compare them to now, I have noticed a big difference in the content of the reviews. The quality of my reviews has definitely improved as well. As opposed to the past, I now regularly use a thesaurus to write my reviews. I edit them multiple times and do my best to avoid spoilers. (Which is really a lot harder than you would think). I dislike writing vague reviews but there is definitely a fine line that has to be balanced.

Another big difference from then to now is my standards. I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten a bit more selective on how I rate books and I’m a bit harder on authors with quality issues. Grammar mistakes are starting to make my eyes twitch and the list of “did not finish” is longer than I ever thought it would be. I try to give the benefit of the doubt but some of the books that are submitted to me look suspiciously like a first draft.  Now, to be fair, I’m not nit picky on grammar. I make my fair share of mistakes while writing just like the next person. It has to be pretty bad before I actually put it in my reviews. Usually, I will send an email to the author with my concerns and ask them to fix it there instead of publicly attack them for it. 

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Fellow reviewers, what are some changes that you have noticed in your reviews? What changes have you implemented?

Writers, what differences between a seasoned reviewer and a newer one do you notice the most? 

Happy Endings – The Divide is REAL.

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For serious readers I have realized there is a bit of a divide on this issue. I have noticed other bloggers actually tick off points on a review if the ending wasn’t happy/sad.

As readers, we get very involved in our stories. These are not just characters. They are little pieces of ourselves that we invest into every story. Each story changes a bit about us. After finishing a really great book, we emerge from our reading cocoon with a bit of a different world view. Every story weaves it’s way into our psych. 

Since we get so involved in stories, having the perfect ending is imperative. Don’t leave loose strings. Don’t hold out! Give us closure! Please!

I realize that every story shouldn’t have a happy ending. Some stories need that sadness to imprint on us. Some stories just can not end happy. 

Some stories even have a mixed bag kind of ending. Where some things ended well while others just didn’t. 

However, some stories have the heavily sought after happy ending. Where everything is tied up nice and neat with a pretty bow of happily ever after. 

Why the obsession with happy ending?

For me, reading is an escape from the soul crushing grind of daily life here in reality-land. It keeps me from getting bitter and grinchy. Each happy ending plants that seed of wistful hope that things can be beautiful and good. Sadly, reality-land often isn’t a very good place to be. 

Between working amazingly long hours for abysmally low wages and trying not to drop kick your angsty two year old, life can get tough out here.  

I need those tiny little seeds of happy. 

What side of the debate are you on?