Ticket to the past

I was 11 years old, dressed in comfy clothes and a simle pony tail. Trousers, sporty shoes, pink sweater that my grandma got for me which came from Disneyland. She never went, but a friend bought it and she would pay for it after. I didn’t have much in my luggage because it was the first time for me taking a plane. A letter for my grandma and the last ‘goodbye’ to my father before I would be reunited with my mother again. A whole mass of water was separating us and it did for half a year. The moment I landed in Spain, my whole life changed and a bunch of memories would follow since, leaving my childhood back.

This would feel like a sudden jump from my past three posts, right reader? I was reviewing books and while I am not finished, yet, with the series, I needed a break. But to get into a book I been so long delaying because I mastered the fine art of distracting myself. Am I to blame when life is so fascinating and overwhelming at the same time? Sigh. Me and my excuses. Chuckles.

Welcome back, dear reader!

This book is a memory of memories and is about people from Syria who had to escape the country due to the war that is, sadly, still ongoing. They don’t loose the hope of returning even if it is for a short vacation, but the hope remains. While reading I was filled with their feelings and emotions but also filled with my own, because I couldn’t help but feel so related. When you grow up in a place where you think you will spend the last breaths of your life, sudden changes can only make you feel so much. Each person in the book narrated the back story of the object they chose to bring along when leaving Syria and in the hurry of not getting caught by a bomb, not much you can put in a luggage or bag. Some would walk thousand miles between countries to reach Sweden and others would have stops in other countries before reaching the final goal which is, again, Sweden. I bought this book as my only physical memory from the trip me and my best friend promised to do when we were teenagers. We waited 7 years to do it. We were visiting a museum in Stockholm and in one of the galleries, there was an exposition of photos the people from Syria lent, same photos that appear in the book and also a big wall fulls of letters these people wrote to their families and their country, and videos of what was left of the land after the bombs. It was BEAUTIFUL and SAD.

The feeling of leaving your life but starting a new one. Old ones, youngs ones, all of them forced to find a new and better life and face the obstacles of a different culture, the fear of the unknown and finding new strenght to not get devoured by the sadness, isolation, loneliness and lets not forget about the stress of being illegal. While it is an exciting thing to travel or move to a new country full of new oportunities, when you are rushed to do it because your home country is disappearing before your own eyes, it turns into something not so exciting. I left my homeland, Venezuela, not only because my parents wanted a better life for me but because it was at the edge of collapse. I haven’t been back since then. It’s been 17 years and now with the current pandemic, I am not sure if I will be able to go anytime soon. I did the same, I took with me what I thought was my dearest possession and so did this beautiful people from the book: one would bring a box with the wedding rings that never got to be used, her boyfriend died serving in the war; another keeping very close the watch that reminds him of his country and his mother; a kid who decided to bring his red football shoes to Sweden to remind him the happy times he spent playing with his friends in Damascus.

“So many things pass through our lives only to disappear. But we keep certain objects around, because they remind us of something, because they tell a story.” – Khouzama, 45, from Damascus.

This book is a happy memory for me, for that travel, for my best friend, for the places, for the people we met, the food we got to taste and the wine that brought our tipsy side. Cheers.

I want to thank the people of Syria who shared their stories and I hope one day you can return to your beloved country not just for the old memories but also to make new ones.

Thank you for your time and for reading, with love

Jojo♥

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Raw thoughts: ACOWAR & ACOFAR

And we are back! Finally… Did you miss me, reader? Hehehe. Third round!

I know, I am sorry. How can I make such a question when I haven’t been consistent myself? The audacity. The truth is I had had a hard time finishing the last two books of this series before because they were boring. I had a blast reading the first two despite the amount of times I felt like pulling my own hair. So this blog is going to be about a brief impretion of how I liked this last two books.

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t read the book this might ruin the experience. If you had, I wish we could exchange some thoughts about it. And if you are not someone who reads books in general, I hope you don’t mind this either.

First part is going to be about ACOWAR, the third book, or what it stand for “A court of wings and ruin”. After the forced return of Feyre to the Spring court, because our puppet Tamlin decided to play double agent for the incoming war, she decides to take revenge on him. Not only because he sold his court for the enemy to enter but for the inevitable transformation of her sisters into inmortals. Not that it was his fault, but you know, unexpected turn of events. But this revenge has larger consequences than just hurt the pride of Tamlin, it affects other people. In the story you can also find more characters trying to obtain power by betraying others. The thing that triggers me is how almost all villains in this story are sex obssesed apart of being power hunger, I didn’t see much backstory from them (either from the main characters) and while I shouldn’t apply my morals and our current society’s morals in a fantasy book, which I can’t help but doing, I can’t deny the lack of complexity of the characters. In my opinion, even the most evil character has a complex morality that explains his/her actions, when is well written. And when it comes to the main protagonists there is not sense of accountability, because “they had their reasons”, so anything they do out of rage, specially, has no punishment. This is another reason I ended up disliking Feyre, because she adknowledges what she did, in her mind, but she always gets forgiven. She and company had a instance of offending an ally and her and Rhysand never apologized. I have the habit of going into fandoms about books or movies I read and watch and for this particular ACOTAR’s fandom, it surprised me how much people would defend Feyre and Rhysand for EVERYTHING. I admit we all have our biases, but oh my lord, does this go beyond!

The whole series is filled with untold apollogies and justifications, but rarely any real apology. Sure there are many ways to show one’s regrets, but in this case, everyone had reasons so you just need to do a good deed for people to forget your wrongdoings. Eh. No. And I know, I didn’t write the book so I can’t expect what I wanted or what I thought would be more logic, however I’m just saying that it desconnected me from the characters and the story which is a shame.

Moving forward, the second part of this post will be about ACOFAS, the novella, that stands for “A court of frost and Starlight”. This book works as a bridge to the next spinoff series that will be about other side characters, like Nesta Archeron, the oldest sister of Feyre. And after the war, we find her dealing with traumas and unsolved issues between her and her sisters, the grief of death in battle and with her new condition as inmortal. The book is written still in first point of view with Feyre and Rhysand but alternates with the third view point with Nesta, Cassian and Morrigan. That was needed since I grew tired of being in Feyre’s head.

The story continues with everybody trying to build back their homes and their lives after the warfare in Prythian. Too many casualties during combat left pain and sorrow, so the characters try to cope with even more PTSD, sadness and grudges. It is also set in a “christmas like” holiday that, curiously, is not practiced by the humans. I think this was funny because they basically spend the whole book hunting down presents, except for Nesta, and trying to stay positive despite everything, except for Nesta. She is a confusing character, but in the next book I will find out more about her, because I need answer about her and the never ending fight between Tamlin and Rhysand.

Now, there is a topic that totally got my attention while reading the series. Specially with this novell. While is a fantasy book and crazy things happen all the time, it is also about overcoming and healing from traumas. One of the traumas that is talked about is sexual abuse, which in the story reaches great violence. That is one thing that disturbed me, because it was very sad. A lot of characters go through that but one thing that got me thinking a lot was the male victims and how one of the characters would obssess with having sex after being abused so much. Let me explain: when I read all and got a bigger picture I thought “Wouldn’t you be disgusted by sex after being abused in that way”? I thought that the only after effect would be to not want sex (even with a loved person) but I was wrong. I had to read and investigate more because I needed more insight and when and before I had more information I was feeling that the way the characters were dealing with that trauma was still sending the wrong message. But there is physical, emotional and psycological effects and each person deals with it in different ways.

I want to suggest an article I found and I hope you’d read it. I want also to highlight a little paragraph that helped me understand better the characters: https://www.gentlepathmeadows.com/male-sexual-abuse-survivors-often-struggle-with-sex-addiction/

Many male survivors of sexual abuse also sometimes use sex as a way to regain control of everything the felt was taken away from them during their abuse. Frequent and unsafe sexual promiscuity is the physical manifestation of an embedded desire to have power over very thing that made them feel so powerless in the past. The abuse victim may have internalized the events to be some sort of ‘game’, and by engaging in regular, compulsive sexual behavior, they feel they are finally “winnin”. – Joe Turner

Any type of trauma is valid and deserves attention and I hope we can reach a point where all victims are treated with respect and compassion, regardless of their background, religion, how they look, their sexual orientation or where they come from. It is not talked about ENOUGH for the habit of our society on invalidating men’s feelings and experiences. Not all men aren’t trash. Women aren’t crazy. Kids are our future. Everyone is damaged. Everyone needs healing. No everyone is aware of what and how to heal. We don’t have all the answers. Let’s be more compassinate. Let’s be open to love.

This post was meant to roasta bit the books I been reading, but important subjects need to be talked about. We do find lessons in everything we do. Thank you for reading and for your time. With love,

Jojo♥

Raw thoughts: “A court of Mist and Fury”

So we are on round number two reading the series of ACOTAR by Sarah J. Maas. And I wish I could do a very cute book photo somewhere in the appartment or somewhere in the town to make it “fancy”. But when you are still in a pandemic scenario, I don’t think I have many options apart of my pyjama and my kindle to read.

Now in the second book of this series, I am starting to pull my own hair because…is getting cheesy. While I do think the idea or the story itself is pretty interesting, there are just things that were poor developed and ultimately I don’t know if I want to hate or like the book.

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t read the book this might ruin the experience. If you had, I wish we could share some thoughts about it. And if you are not someone who reads books in general, I hope you don’t mind this either.

“A court of Mist and Fury” is about overcoming traumas, finding true love, family and friendship and deciding what you stand for. Something I liked about this book is the writer wanted to bring out subjects like: PTSD, sexual abuse, toxic relationships (in general, not just romantic ones) and diversity on characters. While there was a good intention, the approach was lacking unfortunately. And since is a more romance oriented story, the political and worldbuilding felt insuficient. I say this because the book is written from the protagonist point of view and almost everything is just told but little shown. I wish Feyre had more actual conversations with the others characters than spending the big part of the reading in her head and kind of being forced to “accept” her conclusions and assumptions. The moment other characters get to “talk”, is often their whole life, which makes the reading slow pacing and heavy. Now, this story has brought a lot of discussions in forums like Reddit or GoodReads and I have spent some time reading people’s opinion and I think is interesting how we all have different ways of interpreting what we read. Let me focus on the main characters and their love interaction.

We have Feyre, Rhysand and Tamlin. This love triangle is a hot mess and while I don’t particularly care who ends up with who, I felt that there is this two sides where people over love Rhysand and over hate Tamlin. In my case, I can’t pick sides because one charactars has a system support that the other doesn’t, so at the end, I just want to know the root of EVERYTHING. SJM shows that the ‘bad guy’ isn’t always the one you think. Tamlin showed no problematic character traits until he began to trigger and exacerbate Feyre’s PTSD. The problem is he went from 0 to 100 as a change and same goes with Rhysand.

I am really not so into two guys fighting over a girl or viceversa. While Rhysand, somehow, has more strenght to help Feyre overcome her traumas and be a better version of herself while at the same time he has his traumas too (PTSD, sexual abuse and more). He appears to be the healthiest option for Feyre, since is more focused on her healing and not everyone’s overall healing, it felt like other’s characters were invalidated. I would have waited a whole book just so everybody could heal. But we need the drama, isn’t it?

In general, she heals quite a lot but there are also other consequences due to bittirness not only from Feyre but also others characters, so it kind of feels like everyone needs therapy and talk things out, even thoug they prefer, first, to throw the fist.

Now, I would like to highlight an specific moment in the book that made happy and I found it cute. Where Feyre is training her body with Cassian, one of Rhysand’s best friends. He bluntly asks her about the letter she sent to Tamlin to presumably ‘break up’ but she doesn’t take it that well. What I liked about this part is that Cassian adknowledged and took accountability for his actions and said something like “I was insensitive and I am very sorry. If you need to talk about it, I’m here”. And yes, that type of things melt my heart, hehehe.

So far I liked the first book better than this one. I started the third book and I will just wait how everything goes. Thank you for reading and for your time.

Jojo♥

Raw thoughts: “A court of thorns and roses” by Sarah J. Maas

Hello there beautiful reader! I’m back after weeks without posting anything. Sadly I literally didn’t have anything to write. Or actually, I had/have a lot in my head I could think of writting about but I just wasn’t having it. Oh, these mood swings… Inspiration coming like my period…ok, sorry.

Fortunately, one of my friends suggested me to start reading books so we could comment about it and I thought “THAT IS A VERY FUN AND GREAT IDEA!”. She even created a little Book group and is fun. My dearly friend: THANK YOU♥.

This post will talk about my introduction to the writer’s series “A court of thorns and roses” which was published in 2015. However, there are in total of 4 books, the last one will be released this 2021.

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t read the book this might ruin the experience. If you had, I wish for you to share your thoughts. And if you are not someone who reads books in general, I hope you don’t mind this either, hahaha. By the way, this is MY opinion of the first book, so is the first time I kind of “review” something.

The book starts with the main character Feyre Archeron, who for circumstances of life, ends up taking care of her family after losing everything to a huge debt. She also loses her mother to an illness and all together happened when she was a little girl, so she jumps from childhood to survival mode. Her father is crippled and so depressed he can’t even provide for the family, the two sisters start relying on Feyre to eat. The oldest sister appears as a cold person who doesn’t appreciate all the efforts the protagonist does for the family, though she knows but never tells Feyre, and the other sister (Feyre is the youngest) gives the vibe of being in the clouds, but remains her kindness despite the circumstances. So Feyre in a sense, is the scapegoat of her family, which by definition is “[…]one person is chosen to bear the brunt of any psychological discomfort experienced by the family as a whole.[…]” . more info

She takes on the caretaker role because she made a promise on her mother’s deathbed that she would take care of the family. No by choice. So she hunts to feed herself and her family, she learns alone how to move in the world, but they are always at the edge of dying, their poverty can only let them live day by day. And you would think “Damn, what a disgusting family” (I thought that and still do), and you would expect more development of their characters while reading. Thankfully the sisters do change (not a lot, is the first book), but how I see it, the father doesn’t. It was frustrating to “see” their family as never grateful for all that she has done for them. Besides that, she has a “situationship” with a guy from the same town, which is basically meeting sometimes to “relieve” the stress of life (yes, they had only a sexual relationship). And this particular relation makes me think how the protagonist starts her love and sexual life only from a basic human need, or at least that’s how I interpreted it, and not more in a romantic way. By the circumstances, she actually doesn’t have time for that. They only relate to each other in the fact that they are poor and young, and the emotional support that she needed wasn’t met by him. But again, you can’t expect much when the character is only 19 years old, right? Essentially, she doesn’t understand love, because she never had it from her own family in the first place and not even before the mother died.

As a protagonist she is relatable in the sense that she doesn’t know “everything” and is not the typical super “feminine” girl, virgin and she is illiterate and you can sense that in the way the book is written, because all is from her point of view (which lead to lack of details of other characters), yet I liked the way she would describe everything she sees, it feels raw and honest and that’s actually dope. The writing still could have been better, because even tho she is illiterate, she uses very fancy words. Bruh. But furthermore, her luck changes when she kills a wolf and that’s when she enters, finally, the realm of Fae (fairies) where she gets involved in curses, love, treasons and the history behind the war between humans and Faes. And this part is the “Introduction arc”.

“Spring court arc”

During this arc, Feyre has to abandon her family as punishment for killing a fairy. And while you are not precisely excited of been kidnapped, her father tells her to stay away from them if she gets to scape. That either is out of love so she doesn’t have to suffer and gets to start a new life somewhere else or that’s all he can say since he isn’t able to do anything for her anyway. After all that she leaves with the fairy wolf.

Arriving to the court she meets the characters from the Spring court, who happen to have all their faces covered with masks that is not possible to remove due to a curse. A curse that can be broken only if she falls in love with the High Lord of the Spring court, who also happens to be the fairy wolf, Tamlin. Yeah, there you go your retelling of the “Beauty and the Beast” and the legend of “Tam Lin”. She also meets Lucien, the right hand of Tamlin, and Alis, one of the maids in the house. Then, since they are cursed they can’t explain why and how to solve it but they manage to let Feyre “discover” clues on the way.

“The sex ritual arc”

Ok. This is NOT a very nice way to put it, but that’s how I felt it, hahaha. In this part she meets the bad guy who isn’t really the bad guy, but she doesn’t know because she is clueless.

In one part of the history, there is a ritual that has to be held to restore something about magic (I really can’t go into details, because spoilers are already too much) and to do that, all males and females gather in a cave to have a sex party. Basically. YUHU! Feyre was told not to go, but she is this curious baby that needs to see, only to get almost raped by 3 unknowns guys and then saved right away by the bad guy who isn’t really the bad guy, whose name is Rhysand. They say to each other “hey, what’s up” and she leaves but can’t because she is still too curious about the ritual and THEN Lucien finds her in the middle of the crowd and takes her back to mansion and tells her is not a night to be around. Implying that even Tamlin wouldn’t differenciate between good and right. But she doesn’t listen and gets at the end, sexually assaulted by Tamlin. In the book there is an explanation for his behaviour, but still, is not okey. Also Feyre seems to start liking Tamlin so this “sexy” scene gets overlooked.

“The truth essay arc”

So after all the things going on, Tamlin and Feyre fall in love with each other and while it depends on Feyre to tell Tamlin she loves him in order to break the curse, she never tells him. It doesn’t matter anymore because she wasn’t really feeling it and Tamlin sees that (I guess so) so he decides to send her back to her family and maybe that way he saves her from the now expired curse.

Later on she decides to come back to the Spring court to try to save him and everybody. Only to be dragged down under a Mountain where she is forced to agree on risking her life to prove humans can love, save everyone under this curse the villain Amarantha put and go back to his love Tamlin. And while doing all the challenges that literally put her to the edge of death, she gets a lot of help too. You know the protagonist CAN NOT DIE. So she gets help from Lucien (and he pays the price), Rhysand and other side characters. But Tamlin…while he is subjected to Amarantha, he doesn’t do anything to talk to Feyre, but the very moment he gets to move around and gets to see her, he wants to have sex with her instead of atually find a way for her to escape. I don’t know if the dude just gave up and thought it’s better to die with the best image of his mind, hahaha. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you kill a character in the most strange way.

But don’t worry, everybody gets the freedom because Feyre lights the bulb in the last moment to the riddle that would free immediately everyone by saying “love”. That riddle was not original. The she almost dies because even after resolving the riddle and passing the challenges, Amarantha practically breaks her neck out of anger, but when Tamlin kills Amarantha, then all the High Lords of the courts give a little of their power to bring Feyre back to life, makin gher into an inmortal and everyone lives happily ever after.

NO.

While this is a book a consider a guitly pleasure, it was cringe for me in so many ways about the relationships between the characters and I’m more political, action and self-growth type of reader, so the other subjects in the book were overlooked and didn’t developed how I would have expected. And because this series has 3 more books and one novela, I gonna rant about them too! Muahaha. Let me try do add a video with me explaining some extras. https://youtu.be/gyyo7bvVBxg

I will continue on reviewing this series but I should do it by parts because is really hard to put all together even if I wanted to. Thank you for reading and for your time and hope you enjoyed it.

Jojo♥

Raw thoughts: My experience on Twitch

This blog is going to be about my experience as an streamer.

First of all I would like to say that I am currently taking a long break from streaming. In fact, due to work and studies I haven’t been able to since last summer 2020. A part of that, streaming has been an overwhelming experience, both positive and negative. Of course, there is more positive than negative, but I want to focus a little bit more on the negative and how that made me discover more about myself. Eventually learn more about myself. In addition to thar, the positive sides came after learning. Redundant, isn’t it? Hehe.

When I first started I did it because of the money. I know, it sounds terrible, but at that time I didn’t know if I was going to find a job and I was worried so I thought it was a good idea. I never stopped searching for a job, but still starting all this for the sake of money isn’t really clever IF you don’t have a plan. And if you start believing is going to be easy, because you see the successful streamers, without considering how long and hard they been working, then you are destined to fail. Plus, there is so much competition on any streaming platform that you end up doing exactly what others are doing, so originality is hard to craft and find. Let’s go by parts:

  • Originality: as I mentioned before, being original is hard because you want to succee fast as others, so you end up copying others “formulas” (designs, gadgets, even the way you present yourself, etc.) and you think you will become popular the same way and at the same speed. NO. I was trying to find a shortcut all the time. Not to mention (well, yes) what I like other people like too, so in a sense I was streaming the same content as other thousand streamers. Therefor the “key” to get more attention resides heavely on your personality. In my case, I deal with the fact that I am shy even though I love speaking with new people, or rather listen to them; and also I love entertaining. As someone who has danced and perfomed in the past and has loved it so much, I found myself contradicted and shocked. I didn’t think streaming woul be difficult. But is not the same preparing for months with the help of your dance teacher to perform for an even and audience than prepare all your content on your own.
  • Jealousy: Yes, I felt jealous from others, liked them or not. Not only was I jealous, but selfish, greedy and maybe a little be narcissistic. I was comparing myself to thers and to people that I actually liked I was starting to be less truthful (?) and eventually started interacting less and less. Now, the people I wasn’t really vibing with is not like I disliked them but more like their values and ways of doing things were not aligning with mine (the ‘follow per follow’ practice, for example) so that also makes me an hypocrite. Isn’t that ugly? I couldn’t see my own mistakes. I was always expecting something from others and I thought also others were expecting something in return from me. I became so upset with myself.

“Comparision is the theft of joy”

  • Put in the work: All my energy went wasted beating myself and minding other people’s business. Because of that, I never improved much and eventually got nothing DONE. And I could blame other factors as much as I want, but that wouldn’t fix my lack of discipline and responsability, which again, leads to NOTHING. At the end is all on me.
    And yes, motivation is not something you always have, but I learnt that I can go on my own speed, my way. Again, redundant and obvious. But sometimes you need to be reminded of basic things like this to slow down. So I needed to relearn again that I don’t need to rush for the sake of being in the same level as others. I wass too focused in this vicious circle that I couldn’t really appreciate the support I was getting so far and I want to deeply apologize for that. I was disrespectful and ungrateful. Eventually I felt I didn’t deserve that support and vanished. I was so mad at myself. I literally didn’t like ME. But I am also very grateful for the people that helped me, adviced me, supported me and cheered me up.

“Only the people that do less than you, critize”.

  • Self-steem. A lot of times, when I was streaming, I would be worried for things like: the camera to show myself, and if I was showing myself I was worrying if I looked good enough, putting makeup or not, being well dressed or not, may hair, the way my voice sounds, my natural reactions to what I was doing both in games and cooking streams. I would worry for the way I speak, my humor or my intelligence and if people would find me interesting. I also would panic to think about people seeing my flaws and being criticized. It was like my mind was all over the place. In a sense you want the stream to be spontaneous, but at the same time you need to keep some profesinalism if you want it to work. You need to take care of your mental health. In a sense all this sounds like I am and was very hard on myself, but I been so impatient that I wasn’t enjoying the journey of building something I want.

    I had to step away and reflect on myself and I am happy that I could see that part of me that isn’t that pretty, not just because this experience but also everything I been dealing in my life. I am a work in process but acknowledging all this lifted a weight from my shoulders and I been feeling better. Specially during 2020, which was a year full of emotional roller coasters for everybody. That humbled me.

    During last year I was wondering about how others streamers felt and if they would talk about it, if they have experienced the same. Maybe some did, maybe some don’t or didn’t, maybe some are about to experience it. I wish we could talk about these kind of things, but I know is easier said than done. I know others go through a lot of stuff too.

    In our era, we only show the end results, the good side, what is nice, but very little do we show the every step we take to get to the goal we set.

    BREATH. ONE STEP AT TIME. EVERYTHING WIL BE ALRIGHT.

    Lastly but very important: THANK YOU FOR READING, FOR LISTENING AND FOR BEING HERE. I hope this topic was of your interest and that any thoughts you would have about this and if you would like to share, are very welcomed and appreciated.

    Jojo.