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text 2017-12-24 14:55
My Turning Point(s)

 

Tasks for Penance Day: Tell us – what has recently made you stop in your tracks and think?  What was a big turning point in your life? 

 

I had two major turning points in my life recently.  The first was the most significant for this. It was when I got fired from my job as a loan processor at a local bank.  The reason for the firing is a long story and I´m not going into that here but I was so shocked and hurt and thought my life was over.  Then I spent a lot of time thinking and remembered a personality test I took for a college class.  It said I would be good in a medical field.  I went to the hospital and talked to someone in HR.  I told them I wanted to work there but before I decided on what classes to take I wanted to volunteer in different areas to see where I wanted to work and what specific job I wanted to do.  They set me up to volunteer in different areas on different days and also gave me some recommendations based on what types of techs or nurses they hire and which they don´t hire or where those positions would be available for jobs ie nursing home vs main hospital area.  I decided to get a CNA certification to start and take the 1 month class where the whole semester long class is crammed into one month with full 8 hour classes 5 days a week and some Saturdays.  It was a lot of work but I did it.  The HR person I talked to was kept in the loop as to how I was doing and put in a good word for me to different departments.  My references ended up being other hospital staff or volunteers I had worked with when I volunteered.  The HR person was able to set me up with 2 job interviews before I even had my certificate in hand which is usually not allowed.  I was hired 10 days after my class ended.  I LOVED that job and it was so much better for me than the other job I was fired from.  If I hadn´t been fired I would have never had that wonderful experience working at the hospital.  

 

My 2nd turning point was when I started having pain.  I ended up only working as a CNA for 3 years and then had to quit.  Now I am on disability but I will never forget that 3 years I worked at the hospital.  Now when I look back I realized my time working at that bank was wasted time.  It was like I was just spinning my wheels and not really learning anything to advance myself.  I tried so hard and I finally got a promotion but I realized I was doomed to fail and they were just waiting for the right time to move me out.  I started out as a receptionist in that same department and was really good at that job but I didn´t want to do that forever.  Whenever I tried for other jobs in the bank I never got them and then one time they flat out told me I was just too good at my job and it was a hard job to find someone for so they didn´t want me to go somewhere else.  I am so stubborn though that I just kept trying.  I took classes, went to seminars etc. I would ask them, ¨what do I need to do to get this job?¨ I applied for the loan processor job 7 times and got turned down every time but the last time the person who got the job was arrested for felony shoplifting and after that the just gave me the job.  I was so happy until I realized I was only getting a small pay raise and wasn´t even making half of what the other processors were making.  I still dug in my heels and thought I would show them I could do the job and I tried so hard.  They were taking advantage of me though and I was never going to be able to please them and stay sane.  It took me a while to realize that after I got fired but when I did I wrote this poem and posted it in the local newspaper in the poetry section.  I think they changed a word at the end though but the message was still there.  I don´t even care if no one from that place saw it, writing it helped me. 

 

Thank you,
For not believing in me,
For not giving me the chance
To show what I can be.

Thank you,
For giving me false hope
And for giving me a vision
With such a narrow scope.

Thank you, 
For always letting me down.
Time after time you gave
Counsel to a clown.

Thank you,
For now I know,
There is so much more to life
Beyond this damn plateau.

Thank you,
For now I think I'll do
All the things I would have missed
If I didn't bid to you...

adieu.

 

 

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text 2017-11-22 21:41
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Fourth Square - Penance Day and Thanksgiving

Apologies; this post was intended to go up earlier, but I was stuck in a meeting almost all day long.

 

Buß- und Bettag (Penance Day, or Day of Repentance and Prayer) (November 22)

Buß- und Bettag was a public holiday in Germany until 1994, and is still a public holiday in Saxony and a school holiday in Bavaria.  In Germany and Switzerland, Protestant church bodies of Lutheran, Reformed (Calvinist) and United denominations celebrate a day of repentance and prayer on the penultimate Wednesday before the beginning of the Protestant liturgical year on the first Sunday of Advent (i.e., the Wednesday that falls between November 16 and 22.

 

The Reading Tasks:

Read a book that has a monk, nun, pastor / preacher, priest or other representative of the organized church as a protagonist, or where someone is struggling with feelings of guilt or with their conscience (regardless over what).

 

–OR–

 

Other Tasks:

Tell us – what has recently made you stop in your tracks and think? –OR– What was a big turning point in your life? –OR– Penance Day is a holiday of the Protestant church, which dates its origins, in large parts, to Martin Luther, who published his “95 Theses” exactly 500 years ago this year. Compile a catalogue of theses (it needn’t be 95) about book blogging! What suggestions or ideas would you propose to improve the experience of book blogging?

 

 

Thanksgiving (November 23)

To most of this community, this is going to be carrying turkeys to Plymouth, but just in case ...

 

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated in the United States, Canada, some of the Caribbean islands, and Liberia.  It began as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year; similarly named festival holidays occur in Germany and Japan, albeit not at the same time.  Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and on the second Monday of October in Canada.  Although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it has long been celebrated as a secular holiday as well; in the U.S. the First Thanksgiving is believed to have been held by the Puritan settlers in the early 17th century.  Traditions associated with Thanksgiving in North America include family gatherings for a dinner of roasted turkey, potatoes, squash / pumpkins and gravy, as well as spiced pumpkin or apple pie for desert.

 

The Reading Tasks:

Read a book with a theme of coming together to help a community or family in need. –OR– A book with a turkey or pumpkin on the cover.

 

–OR–

 

Other Tasks:

List of 5 things you’re grateful for –OR– a picture of your thanksgiving feast; post your favourite turkey-day recipe. –OR– Be thankful for yourself and treat yourself to a new book - post a picture of it.

Bonus task: share your most hilarious turkey-day memory.

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text 2017-11-19 01:39
16 Tasks of the Festive Season - Task 4 (Second Time) - Penance Day

I decided to discuss suggestions/ideas for book blogging.

 

1. Be honest. I can't tell you how many people I unfollowed on blogs and Goodreads who I started to feel where just shills for the authors. Readers can tell when you are passionate about a book. And we can also tell when you probably haven't read it, especially when you get whole swatches of information wrong in your review. 

 

2. Try to always comment back. I know everyone is busy, but I try my best to always comment back if someone comments on my reviews or updates on Booklikes, Goodreads, and Twitter. I like to discuss books with people who love to discuss books. Sometimes it's nice to hear you are not the only one who didn't get a book. Or it's great when you can squee over a book you love with someone else.

 

3. Don't obsess over your follower/friend count. I know it can be discouraging when a review you worked hard on has three likes and a super reviewer comes along and knocks you clear off. I love blogging cause it allows me to talk about books and any old thing that moves me. I get happy if only one person liked my blog post or only one comments. 

 

4. If something isn't your thing, don't force it. There are whole genres that people don't like to read. If you don't like romance, don't force yourself to in hopes you gain some followers. I genuinely love to read across many genres. But I don't see the point in struggling to get into reading an author or genre cause it's getting hyped in the book community. 

 

5. Don't spam. Seriously. I get authors are on Booklikes and Goodreads and for the most part it's all been good. I don't take review requests and the only time I did it this past year was because the author reached out to the site I posted at and asked with the caveat I could say no. They just thought my reviews were hilarious. It of course freaked me out. I read the book and thankfully didn't hate it. But I genuinely stay away from things like that cause I don't want to be hit with requests all the time. Reading books on a schedule doesn't appeal to me and this is reason number 2,325 why I just decided to leave NetGalley alone.

 

6. Interact with others bloggers. You do that and you'll be surprised at how much good stuff is out there. I met some people here on the Amazon forums, but others I met through discussion threads and thought, gee they don't sound unhinged and maybe since we like the same books they are okay too. I'm always amazed when I see a blogger with a huge follower count with very few people they follow. I love the interaction between bloggers that it's a shame many don't take advantage of it.

 

7. It's okay to DNF. Seriously. I have beaten myself up for force finishing a book and have now tried to stick to my 25 percent rule. If at 25 percent I am not feeling it, I'm not feeling it.

 

8. It's okay to take breaks. Real life happens. People will be there when you get back, probably with a cat picture or two just for you.

 

9. It's okay to not just focus on books. I love reading about everything. Books, movies, plays, something that just stuck in your that day. Blogs and podcasts are the new thing, so be as creative as you want.

 

10. Don't tell people how they should review. That one gets my blood up every time. It stuns me when anyone strolls into a review and tells the reviewer their opinion is wrong. Look I get it. I love Roxane Gay, but not everyone is going to love her books. And it makes absolutely no sense for me to roll into everybody's review that gave her a one-star and tell them they're an idiot for not getting her brilliance.

 

11. Try to keep experimenting with what works. Heck some of my best reviews/comments came when I live update a book for a day or two. I get a kick out of making everyone laugh. Never forget "Holly". 

 

12. Don't be afraid to use gifs. Heck I know some readers hate them, but for me using gifs to show what I felt about a particular book is better than me spewing for a paragraph about how irritated/happy/sad/mad I am. 

 

13. Reading challenges can be fun and can bring a whole new group of followers/friends to your blog or account. We readers tend to flock to those who love books. So if you have the time, taking part in one or many reading challenges can be fun.

 

14. Don't overbook yourself. I found this out the hard way. Participating at four separate sites earlier this year burned me out. I finally decided BL and GR and that's it. Posting to more than those two places was a lot for me to track. 

 

15. Have fun. 

 

 

 

Tasks for Penance Day: Tell us – what has recently made you stop in your tracks and think?  What was a big turning point in your life?  –OR– Compile a catalogue of theses (it needn’t be 95) about book blogging!  What suggestions or ideas would you propose to improve the experience of book blogging?

 

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review 2017-04-23 07:47
Penance Review
Penance - Kanae Minato
I burned through the last 75% of this in one extended sitting. I only stopped to eat, use the bathroom, and update my status on Goodreads when something remarkable happened, which was quite often, I must say.

Penance was the perfect book for me at this moment in my life. I've grown impatient with the same old, same old, and this book was anything but that. Oddest of all is, I should have hated this book. It does three things that usually annoy the fuck out of me:

#1. It has something I call the "Vantage Point Plot", wherein one dramatic scene is told from a bunch of different viewpoints. That normally gets old real quick, but here it was fresh because every chapter showed you the aftereffects of each individual, and each aftereffect was drastically different. Some were creepy as balls, others were tense, some were sad, but every single one of them was interesting. Thank fuck for that miracle.

#2. This is basically a mosaic novel. I've not had great success with mosaic novels. If you don't know what one is, I'll give you a brief explanation. A mosaic novel is a series of vignettes or short stories that are connected by one central event or theme. Here it works because we're so close to each character. The detailed explanations of each character's life at the beginning of their chapters might bore some of you. They bored me a bit. But by the end of each chapter I saw just how needed all that information was. Be patient with this one. Each section pays off.

#3. First-person POVs from multiple characters. This is a style I can't fucking stand. It rarely works well, especially when each character is speaking to someone off screen, as it were, like in novels based on an interview structure, but here it fits perfectly. In fact, any book I read from here on out that has chapters from different first-person POVs will be stacked and judged against this novel. It was so well done. I was never confused as to who's head I was in because each and every person got their own quarantined section. Beautiful.

Finally, this was just an easy read. Something I didn't have to think too hard about, but not so simple that I thought the author was speaking down to me. The translation is terrific. I don't feel that anything was lost in translation. I can't say that for certain, seeing as I don't speak Japanese and have not read the original text, but usually you can sit back and say, "Something about that doesn't sound right."

In summation: I am happy as hell that I snagged this one off NetGalley in return for the review you just read. I'll likely buy this in hardcover or paperback or whichever format it comes out in upon release in the States. It's rare that I buy books I've received ARCs of, but this will more than likely be one of them... as long as it's decently priced. You never know with this translated novels, seeing as how they have to essentially pay two authors. If you like your mysteries built with abnormal frames, give this one a look-see.

Final Judgment: Some of everything and not a thing bad.
 
 

 

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review 2017-04-19 09:22
Penance...
Penance - Kanae Minato

I read Confessions from this author and loved it, a one sitting read and Penance was another one sitting read. It was strange and dark, occasionally heart breaking and beautifully done. Translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel I was immediately hooked in to this tale of a group of children caught up in the horrific murder of one of their friends, a sinister threat from the girls mother and how that affected them growing up..

Penance is less a murder mystery and more a character drama – the murder, and the mothers emotionally charged “threat” setting off a chain of life events for the 4 girls and indeed for the mother herself. Each girl tells her tale, about that day and about their lives after, all of them in one way or another end up paying that “Penance” that was demanded of them at a young and impressionable age. Kenae Minato really delves into personality here, taking us on a twisted, atmospheric journey through the lives of these characters, whose realities differ so much but all are tied into a seemingly unbreakable bond to that one event.

The cultural aspects are equally involving, as I read I got a real sense of both the differences and the similarities between life in Japan and life here – there are different expectations, different society rules and hierarchy, but people are people everywhere. Grief, love, trauma, those things have no borders and I was struck by how beautifully the author managed to portray the feelings, the passion, the core heart of everyone we meet within the pages.

Utterly riveting, everything in Penance hovers underneath the surface, the decisions made, the actions taken, all informed by the past at differing levels. The plotting is taut and extraordinarily clever, its not until you come to the end of Penance and look back at it that you understand fully the complete tragedy. Because Penance is a tragedy, almost Shakespearean in nature, I devoured every word of it with a shivery intensity.

Absolutely Highly Recommended.

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