Review: Reunion of the Good Weather Suicide Cult by Kyle McCord

Book Review, Uncategorized

*I have received this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Cults. I’ve read and listened to a lot on that topic. I know things that my mom considers creepy to know. But I can’t help it. I’m absolutely consumed by intrigue. When I saw this book on NetGalley, it was an instant request. And I was checking my inbox regularly to see if they’d accepted me, not expecting them to. I was elated when they responded.

This book follows Tom Duncan, who is the only person at the Good Weather cult camp that survived the night of their mass suicide. Unfortunately, these things don’t just go away. A Netflix documentary is made about that night that includes Tom’s interviews with a detective who believes Tom masterminded that whole thing. The documentary gains traction, and suddenly people on the street feel like they know him, and they don’t like who they know.

After being told by his daughter that she needs space and he needs to leave, Tom finds himself at a reunion of other people who had been a part of Good Weather at one time or another but were not there that night. All of whom have had drastic differences in how they experienced the camp. There are laughs, shared secrets, and heartbreaks.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐(3 stars)

I was worried because I’d never read about a fictional cult before, only true crime stores. How would it compare to all of the information stored in my mind? I was pleasantly surprised. McCord knows his stuff about cults. How they operate, what type of people lead them, etc. Good Weather felt like a place I could easily hear about on one of the podcasts I listen to. I was ready to hear the sordid details and feel all of the feelings.

Unfortunately, the only real feeling I felt was solemnity. There wasn’t much in the way of happiness, or horror, or awe. There was some sadness and the rest an even-keeled solemnity. I wanted to feel more; I wanted to be more surprised; I wanted a bigger reveal. 

Tom was likable, and I wanted him to get off well in the end. But there was no significant character growth. His daughter once mentioned therapy for him, and he never even considered it. He didn’t seem to get over any of the crucial problems that ailed him. We never saw him do anything for those issues aside from reconnecting with others from the cult.

Lastly, a tiny thing seemed to be an inconsistency to me, and that just bugged me. I wished I could ask the author to explain it to me, but it will always bug me now.

The book was well written and an easy read. But it wasn’t anything too exciting. However, I commend McCord, and I’ll keep an eye out for other books.

Review: God I Feel Modern Tonight by Catherine Cohen

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“some of my closest friends have/ chosen to go to weddings/ instead of hanging around the city/ listening to me complain about someone I kissed in 2012/ when someone is married I do take that personally”

Catherine Cohen, God I Feel Modern Tonight

Everyone needs a little something to give them deep belly laughs from time to time. After all, they say laughter is the best medicine. This book had me reading almost every poem aloud to my fiancé because I just related so hard and wanted to share the amusement.

Catherine Cohen is a comedian and that side of her really shines through in this book. Not just that, but the experience of living in the modern world. She feels like someone I want to have a conversation with, someone who would understand all that I hold true. It felt like listening to an old friend.

It was too quick of a read. I finished up the 69 pages in less than an hour and wanted more. I’m probably going to read it over again before I return it to the library, and I will be buying it at my earliest convenience.

This book gets 5 stars, purely for being enjoyable. I suggest if you need something to cheer you up after a depressing read that you pick this one up.

Book Review: Not Quite Out by Louise Willingham

Book Review, Uncategorized

I’ve been trying to get back into my reading routine after a couple of years of burnout. Not for lack of effort, it wasn’t working for me. I would pick a book off my shelf and read three or four pages, and then it would sit there for weeks. Something had to change. Despite resolving not to get any new books this year, I decided the only way to combat my stump was to buy a new book I was really excited about. Now, was that the best decision? No, probably not, because now I want to buy more. But did it work? Yes, I’m happy to say it did.

I follow a writer on Twitter who kept mentioning her book, and every time I heard her say something about it, I wanted to know more. Then I saw the cover. A love affair began between me and that cover. The color scheme, the simplicity! My brain was sold. I used my first payment from freelancing to pay for this book, and I’m glad I didn’t spend it any other way.

The book was ‘Not Quite Out’ by Louise Willingham. The story follows William and Daniel, two men with vastly different experiences of life, who you can’t help but root for. William is bi, but he hasn’t told anyone yet. He’s decided it doesn’t matter anyway because he doesn’t plan on dating anyone right now. Daniel is gay and out but is battling addiction and a breakup with an abusive ex. They meet by chance, but their worlds change from that moment on as they grow closer and closer together.

Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4)

My god! The amount of romantic tension in this book is perfectly unbearable. The noises I made while reading it were not voluntary. This book features all of the romantic intimacies that aren’t sex, and it made me swoon. It’s so refreshing to see physical touch that doesn’t always lead up to an orgasm. There’s nothing wrong with sex, but all other forms of intimacy are often glossed, not just in books but in society in general. I think everyone will be able to enjoy this and not just people who are on the ace spectrum like me (Dan and Will are not aspect.) They experience such a genuine love for each other; it will sound ridiculous, but my heart was seriously sighing with joy.

Let’s not even mention the number of times I made my fiancé toss in bed by accidentally screaming, “JUST TELL THEM. TELL THEM, NOW. DO IT!” It was a page-turner because I just needed to find out when, how, and if Will was ever going to tell someone that he’s bisexual. It propelled me forward even long after I should have gone to bed.

I thought there were a few odd things thrown in at the end, but they didn’t exactly take away from anything I loved about this story. It’s not because they were things that I didn’t like, but things that just appeared to be thrown in quickly with not enough time spent focusing on them. Their relationship is toxic, but I think the side characters address this and make it apparent throughout the story. The story features a lot of significant, scary issues that I wish could have been delved into a little deeper and would have brought this up to a 5-star read for me.

All said and done, this story was precisely the book I needed to read right now. And even though I had hoped to finish it in June, because you know Pride month, I’m just happy it was good enough to get me to finish it at all (not to mention we should have Pride every month.) I recommend it to everyone looking for a lovely little romance.

⚠Trigger Warnings: drug abuse/recovery, abuse, self harm, abortion.⚠

Did You Know There Are Different Types of Bipolar Disorder

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[This is comprised of my experiences, not one story is exactly the same, my story is not an absolute]

In 2019, I found myself in partial hospitalization. After a journey of cognitive tests and questions meant to summarize “my story”, I was narrowed down to a diagnosis I hadn’t heard before: Bipolar II. Of course Bipolar slipped off tongues easily; I only just started to learn what it really meant. My mom and I’d discussed the possibility that I was Bipolar, but it didn’t fully fit me. One eyebrow raised and head tilted to the side, “What’s that?”

Honestly, I won the psychiatrist lottery, this doctor was one of the brightest I’ve ever encountered; I nodded along while he drew diagrams and explained. By the end of the conversation, I had to agree. I had Bipolar II. My shoulders dropped away from my ears and I sighed, finally the proper treatment could begin. 

Let me try to explain. First, there’s the misconception. A large population seem to think Bipolar means acting out the chorus of Hot N Cold by Katy Perry (excuse my outdated reference). Essentially, a sharp and constant shift between positive and negative. I see where they’re coming from, I really do, but the gaps in knowledge create crucial differences in understanding. If we make the mistake of taking every word at face value we end up missing the nuances that come with it. 

Bipolar I is what most people think of when they hear the word, so I’ll start there. Bipolar I is less about feelings (but they’re still an important factor) and more about energy. Not so much yes and no, as slow and GOOOOO. Bipolar I is most often characterized by Mania. Mania is not being able to sleep, loss of impulse control, delusions of grandeur, and sometimes even hallucinations. This can also mean spending all your money, traveling across the country on a whim, putting yourself in unsafe situations. Etc etc etc. It’s not just feeling hyper. It’s an irrational, intense loss of control.

I’ve never experienced full blown mania, that’s one of the big differences between the two. People with Bipolar II experience hypomania. It’s more of a “dulled down” mania. It’s still hard to sleep, you try to do do do everything, you get sudden interest and hyper fixate until you realize you’ve read 20 books in a month and made at least 5 youtube videos about it and spent all your money buying more books when you already have hundreds unread and a library card. Okay, that may be a little specific, but I think it makes the point. It’s not always positive. Sometimes it’s throwing shit and screaming at the smallest slight- even the sound of someone’s breath could be the trigger. 

In general however,  it feels good when I’m hypomanic. I finally feel like I can do something. That’s because the biggest characterization of Bipolar II is incredibly low lows. After you read all those books and do “all the things”. Suddenly you’re frozen. I don’t just mean I’m sad. It’s being curled up on the couch all day either sleeping or staring eyes glazed over at the ceiling. It’s not showering for weeks or doing laundry until a rank odor emits from you making family and coworkers gag. It’s tripping over shit when you walk to the bathroom because there isn’t an empty space on the floor, your room has become a sty of trash, and dishes, and moldy food, and laundry. And occasionally it’s passive suicidal ideation: What’s the point? Why bother?

Some people mistake Bipolar II for the lesser version of Bipolar I. I wouldn’t say one is more or less than the other, they’re just different. I flunked out of college. I quit going to school. I got fired from my job. I self harmed. I don’t function “properly”. I once read that people with Bipolar II spend an average of 37 weeks out of the year, depressed. I can’t back up that statistic, but it sounds right. 

A year and a half has passed since that doctor said those words. I’ve done a lot of work: testing out different meds, learning how to do therapy, finding a therapist I love, experiencing group therapy, discovering that other people are like me, going to partial hospitalization again. It’s still a continuous process. I’m not cured (there isn’t a cure). But, I only scream when I’m hypomanic, I know the signs and have a safety plan, I’ve educated my loved ones so they can help me through it and know what’s happening, and I’ve drastically dulled my reactions to anger. 

It’s painful when I see people stereotype Bipolar people. So often someone will have conflicting thoughts and laugh “haha I’m so Bipolar!” I don’t know that I believe in Mental Health Awareness month, I think we need something different. (But that’s a different article for another day.) However, today I thought it was important to push those thoughts aside and share a small fragment of my experience. I thank you for giving me the time and your openness to gain some knowledge. 

[There’s also Rapid Cycling Bipolar, but I don’t know enough about that to speak on it]