July 2018: Books & Movies

July was full of various reads, including plays, parenting books, poetry collections, and a bunch of great library discoveries. The month felt incredibly satisfying reading-wise, which has been a long time coming this year. In total, nine books were read and reviewed:

Books that made my month:

How to Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish.

How can I express my honest feelings in a way that will make it possible for the other person to hear me and even consider what I have to say?

As I mention in my review for the book, I wholeheartedly stand behind the belief that through our interactions with children we can learn how to behave respectfully to our surroundings; patience, kindness, and acceptance should be shown to all. So I’ve been diving into more books of the kind (and endlessly and unknowingly comparing them to this book), while listening to a bunch of lectures on the subject of gentle parenting, as well. They have been a fruitful source for my learning.

Circling back to the book, the comic illustrations really aide with visually representing the points. I included in my review some of my favorites that I make sure to implement in my personal life. The below idea, in particular, left quite the positive impression:

Instead of Angry Reprimands …How to Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk 2-- bookspoils

Movies that made my month:

July also being my birth month, I had the privilege to invite my younger sister along to her first-ever cinema experience by watching the Incredibles 2. She’s a huge fan of the first movie and with this much-anticipated release out in the world, it only seemed right to take her along. In the end, I felt so grateful that I got to partake in this memorable experience for her and can only hope and pray for many more to come and share together.

In terms of the movie, we had a grand time watching the relatable family dynamic, especially with the siblings. There were many laugh-out-loud moments, which, funnily enough, became the ones to stay in my head the most from the whole film.

A few of my highlights:

A play-by-play replica of something I’d tell my sister.

As well as Bob “Mr. Incredible” & Dash tackling “new math” together:

I so cherished family scenes showing the realness behind parenting with the trials and errors that Bob took on; it was weirdly comforting to watch.

Finally, I have to veer off a bit to give a quick shout-out to The Office for creating this epic birthday scene:

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 09.46.55

That was my July wrap-up, thank you for reading!

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Review: Fly Already by Etgar Keret

My first fully completed Etgar Keret collection read in Hebrew, courtesy of the lovely librarian at my local library! (Previously read in English: The Seven Good Years, Suddenly, a Knock on the Door, & The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God.) Fly Already contains twenty-two character-driven short stories, circling different introspections on our thoughts through daily-life observations and reflection.

I took quite the journey for this latest Etgar Keret book to land in my hands, but here I am after having had quite a blast reading through the pages. The writer’s clever awareness of his surroundings hooked me in from the start. It’s present, in particular, with stories such as, “GooDeed” (which challenges economic privileges), “Pineapple Crush” (which shows the subtle importance of human connection and an ode to beautiful sunsets), “Pitriyah” (which breaks the fourth wall by voicing exactly my thoughts upon reading certain reveals) & “Don’t Do It!” (which brings a man’s journey full circle).

Everything was flowing all nice and dainty, until I came across the story “Tabula Rasa,” that pretty much made all the author’s hard work go down the drain, for me…

The book stooped so low so to manipulate the reader into emotionally identifying with a character presented as “A” and his situation of being locked up in an institution, when all he wants is to escape with his friend, Nadia. It all comes down to this: only to settle for the hurried reveal that “A” was bred and cloned to give a Holocaust survivor a sliver of peace by avenging his family murdered by Hitler’s Nazis. “A” then, of course, stands for Adolf Hitler, who in the meantime has been given a uniform and facial trim to match… Truly, what a cheap, distasteful joke to make of a ruthless dictator responsible for the deaths of millions. The writer makes a complete joke out of the survivor (what even was the look of making him practically beg “A” to be fearful of meeting his end) by sending the message that trying to chase after Hitler to avenge your family perished in the Holocaust is not worth it; move on, already. The audacity it takes to reverberate this mockery to thousands of readers worldwide makes me want to shout, which is why I’m writing this review.

“The world needed to be reminded that monsters were still at large.”  x

I still can’t wrap my head around this ridicule. How can someone write such an intensely sensitive piece of writing just a few pages ago, only to now write about Hitler through manipulatively hidden clues to make us actually feel sorry for him in the end? This warped mindset, especially from a Jew whose parents are survivors, gave me heebie-jeebies.

It’s textbook Stockholm syndrome that makes victims want to grow close into the confines of the enemy as a defense mechanism, so that in another lifetime they won’t be abolished: Keret’s ending came across as “if I show Hitler (imah shmo) in an emphatic light then surely he wouldn’t have hunted down and annihilated my nation.” It’s the same syndrome that led another Israeli-Jew to recklessly exhibit Hitler’s paintings at Haifa’s gallery ‘Pyramida’, which is funded by the Ministry of Education, aka making tax-paying Israeli-Jews (which, incidentally, homes more or less 200,000 Holocaust survivors) pay for showing the devil’s work.

The way these syndrome victims move on is to befriend the enemy and forgo all moral values in the process, and it’s a powerful statement to the horrors of Stockholm syndrome. If you find something (a painting, a book, a statue) more important than human morality, it’s a sign that you’re taking a part in this virus; when brilliancy trumps harmfulness to society, you’re in danger.

Another point that hit me repeatedly throughout the collection was the author’s quite obvious need to appeal to the masses and acquire more international readers by presenting numerous stories set in the West to make it easier for his translators to adapt. I’m pretty sure that the only readers that care to repeatedly venture into his work are either Jews, Israelis, or both… so I personally would’ve appreciated stories that remained close to his roots since those are where he shines best.

bookspoilsbookspoilsbookspoils star (What even were the redeeming qualities? Scrolls back to first paragraph

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Review: Exquisite Corpse by Pénélope Bagieu

I read it for the art… and to satisfy my curiosity from a couple of years back regarding this book.Exquisite Corpse 3- bookspoils

Zoe isn’t exactly the intellectual type, which is why she doesn’t recognize world-famous author Thomas Rocher when she stumbles into his apartment…and into his life. It’s also why she doesn’t know that Rocher is supposed to be dead. Turns out, Rocher faked his death years ago to escape his critics, and has been making a killing releasing his new work as “lost manuscripts,” in cahoots with his editor/ex-wife Agathe. Neither of them would have invited a crass party girl like Zoe into their literary conspiracy of two, but now that she’s there anyway. . . . Zoe doesn’t know Balzac from Batman, but she’s going to have to wise up fast… because she’s sitting on the literary scandal of the century!

Exquisite Corpse is the epitome of a graphic novel set to feature gorgeous artwork with essentially no depth to the storyline. We have flat, unmotivated characters whose actions are never explored; it’s somehow a given that it’ll make sense for a complete stranger to let a girl into his apartment to pee simply because she rang his intercom…Exquisite Corpse 6- bookspoils
Manic Pixie Dream Girl to the max. No person, especially a stranger, talks like that. 

Exquisite Corpse perfectly embodies those clichéd French novels all about Oh, Love French sigh that I’ve been warned about. It checks pretty much every mark from the mistreating old boyfriend to the oh-so-romantic new love interest to the out-of-nowhere mature ex-wives to Lolita-esque relationships (literally have way too many examples of this I’ll share below). The warnings weren’t for naught. So it became quite humorous when the novel tried to take itself too seriously.

Exquisite Corpse !!- bookspoils

This right here illustrates their imbalanced relationship. They don’t view each other as equals, and the writer dude (such a bland character I don’t even recall his name) is beyond patronizing.

The adults are having a conversation while sending the little girl off to bed:

Exquisite Corpse 8- bookspoils BLEH.

Exquisite Corpse 7- bookspoilsThis 22-year-old needs a therapist, not someone twice her age preying on her.

Also: The clear contrast established between her old boyfriend and this writer dude was so forced, and it made all the “good” the writer represented (listening to her, complimenting her, etc.) seem like he was reading from a script or something he read in a magazine. IT’S NOT REAL. The artificial interactions bothered me all too much for a book that’s supposed to be contemporary.

The ridiculously blown-out aspects of this book made it so I could never fully sink into the storyline. At one point I thought we were on the brink of a breakthrough when the main character finally realized what a douche the writer was and ran from him, but their relationship shouldn’t have happened in the first place so there wasn’t a lot of room for positive feelings. But then even that tiny revelation ruined itself at the very end with another lolita-esque relationship. S T O P.

I really wished the main character would’ve gotten some time alone to realize and reflect on what direction she wants her life to head into, instead of turning from one bad relationship to the other. I just felt sorry for this girl who clearly craves belonging, so she’s willing to settle with anybody who can provide even a tiny slice of it. Don’t settle, please.

I’ll end my review on a more positive note by featuring some of my favorite pieces: Exquisite Corpse 5- bookspoilsExquisite Corpse 2- bookspoilsExquisite Corpse !- bookspoilsExquisite Corpse 4- bookspoils

bookspoilsbookspoils star

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Exquisite Corpse, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

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