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review 2018-06-24 23:01
Your Inner Critic Is a Big Jerk
Your Inner Critic Is a Big Jerk: And Other Truths About Being Creative - Danielle Krysa

This was on sale on Audible for 99 cents, so I couldn't resist. 

 

At two hours and forty-three minutes, it's a short, self-help pick-me-up, designed to encourage artists of all sorts to set aside negative internal thoughts about their work and just get back to making stuff.

 

The tone is warm and encouraging, which is precisely what the material calls for.

 

It might be most useful for someone who's just embarking on a creative enterprise, to give them courage, and to force them to stop and think about why they might have negative thoughts about themselves. (Did you receive a negative critique in the past? Did a parent or teacher dismiss your art as a child?)

 

I'm not much of an "exercises" enthusiast (e.g. thirty-day projects, writing prompts, painting prompts), so I wasn't interested in those suggestions.

 

I wish it had been more carefully researched and edited. I don't need it to be a scholarly tome--it's supposed to be light and fun, after all--but a little fact-checking always helps to make a published work feel more authoritative. 

 

1. It did not take Thomas Edison 10,000 attempts to produce a successful lightbulb. This is an often-repeated myth. See the explanation of his trials and errors here. (His lab did apparently conduct thousands of experiments while designing a storage battery.)

 

2. The phrase "working in a vacuum" does not refer to a vacuum cleaner. At first I thought Ms. Krysa was talking about it being dusty and too small inside as a play on words, but she continued the description throughout the chapter. She does understand that the metaphor means "working in isolation," but doesn't seem to realize that the origin of the expression is "a space devoid of matter," not "a machine to suck up dirt." :)

 

3. She asks "What if Leonardo da Vinci had thought painting the Mona Lisa was a waste of time?" In fact, da Vinci is a terrible example if you want to portray a healthy attitude about one's artistic career. He was notorious for not completing commissions, for leaving paintings unfinished for years, and for feeling like an abject failure because of it. He carted the Mona Lisa around with him until his death, rather than present it to the patron who commissioned it.

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review 2018-06-24 18:55
"Desert Dark" by Sonja Stone - abandoned at 51%. I am so not the target audience for this book.
Desert Dark - Sonja Stone

I wanted a lighter side to my "Summer Of Spies" reading so I picked up "Desert Dark", knowing from the publisher's summary that it was a Young Adult adventure book about a sixteen-year-old heroine attending a school for spies.

 

It was the light, fast, slightly simplistic read I'd expected it to be. It started at a run with an attempt on our heroine's life, did a "Three months earlier.." flip followed by an up close and personal murder. Then it slowed down so we could focus on Nadia's experience in attending spy school. 

 

The first indication that this might not be the book for me was how I stumbled over Nadia's reaction to her situation.

 

Day One of her new school she's subjected to an aggressive, invasive "psych eval" that seems more like an interrogation, is finally told the kind of school she's been tricked into signing up for and has been threatened with indefinite detention without charge under the Patriot Act if she tells anyone about it. 

 

Her reaction? "So I really get to work for CIA Black Ops? How cool is that?"

The dissonance felt pulled me out of the story. What kind of sixteen-year-old thinks it's cool to work for an illegal, lethal, organisation that sets itself outside of control by the democratic process in order to kill America's enemies?

 

After that, I struggled to muster the required suspension of disbelief.

As the chapters flew by, I began to see the Spy School as a sort of Hogwarts where everyone is in Slytherin and really proud of it.

 

I should have been caught up in a young Nadia's struggle to thrive in an elite spy school, which has been infiltrated by a double agent who has been told to terminate her in a make-it-look-like-an-accident way because she's perceived as a threat. My attention should have been split between figuring out who the double was (not a simple task as there were so many red herrings the plot stank of fish) and rooting for little miss cute but strong to succeed.

 

Instead, I kept seeing bright children being abused by a government agency that grooms them to be blindly obedient in the name of patriotism and then trains them to kill on command. They even use a psych profile to find the children whose backgrounds make them need to please and went to feel part of something larger than themselves. 

 

If this book had been written by Tom Clancy and set in a madrassah in Pakistan, he'd have shown it to the home of evil bad guys, exploiting children and misusing faith and courage. Setting the school in America doesn't make what's happening in it any more acceptable.

I stuck with the book to the half-way point because I was curious about who the bad guy was but, in the end, I couldn't set my distaste aside.

If you can come to this with a "Clear and Present Danger" for teenagers mindset then this will probably work for you. It was too Through The Looking Glass for me.

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text 2018-06-24 14:07
Reading progress update: I've read 35%.-spy novels are supposed to be "through the looking-glass" but not like this.
Desert Dark - Sonja Stone

I'm suffering from culture shock.

 

I'm in a world where Fox News is not an oxymoron.

 

A spy school that's a sort of Hogwarts where everyone is in Slytherin and really proud of it.

 

I'm supposed to be caught up in a young woman's struggle to thrive in an elite spy school, which has been infiltrated by a double agent who has been told to terminate her in a make-it-look-like-an-accident way because she's perceived as a threat. My attention should be split between figuring out who the double is - so many red herrings the plot stinks of fish - and rooting for little miss cute but nice to succeed.

 

Instead, I'm seeing bright children being abused by the State and manipulated into blind obedience in the name of patriotism and trained to kill on command. If this was written by Patterson and set in Pakistan, the school would be the home of the evil bad guys.

 

Now I'm rubbernecking rather than reading. This is a car wreck I can't look away from.

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text SPOILER ALERT! 2018-06-24 08:40
Reading progress update: I've read 334 out of 334 pages.
Final Girls - Riley Sager

Holy fuck this book was crazy and finding out about coop and what happened a pine cottage really wow

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text SPOILER ALERT! 2018-06-23 23:25
Reading progress update: I've read 273 out of 334 pages.
Final Girls - Riley Sager

Quincy slept with coop I mean I like them together but the way it played out didnt feel right.

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