Book Review – The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Book Cover: A Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

I was challenged by Stephanie, my cohort in the Book Club for Complicated House Plants, to read her favorite book and then we’d watch the movie together. Then my daughter Xe (pronounced: zay) came to stay with me for a few months. Upon learning I was reading The Glass Castle, she got really really excited because it is also one of her favorite books. She was unaware there was a movie, so we invited her along to be part of this adventure with us.

Movie Poster for the feature film based off of the book A Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle is a memoir by Jeannette Walls that details her life growing up with her siblings, Brian, Lori, & Maureen and her parents Rose Mary and Rex Walls. It tells the story of their life growing up in the deserts of California, Arizona, and Texas before moving East to West Virginia. With parents who are always a little out of touch with reality, the kids grow up a little out of the normal parameters that we think of today. Struggling to make ends meet and almost consistently wondering where their next meal will come from, it takes a toll on the children.

An excerpt from the book A Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

Book Club for Complicated House Plants

Book Club for Complicated House Plants

Rex and Rose Mary Walls were unconventional parents, but were they abusive? Why or why not?
S: Does it have to be a yes or no question? Can it be both? Were they abusive? I would say no. They never struck their children, but did they put them in situations that required them to find different solutions? Yes. They taught them to fend for themselves; survival of the fittest. But are they also traumatized from their childhood? Yes, there’s some PTSD going on. But all in all it made them stronger adults.
A: Yes. Mostly because they were neglectful at the very least. They wanted what was best for their kids, but refused to do anything that would actually better them. Always on the road toward the next adventure, regardless of whether or not the kids had exactly what they needed. Though the kids were smart, they lacked the basic necessities on regular occasions.
X: Oh, yes. There’s not even a question about that cause how do you let your child burn making hot dogs when they’re three? Your three year old shouldn’t be anywhere near the stove. And when they’re visiting Rex’s mom, the scene with the brother [Brian] there was certainly some abuse there. He let his kids stay with her?

Why does Jeannette see more ambiguity in her upbringing than her siblings do?
S: I think because she had the closest relationship with their Dad. Seeing all the things he did and loving him through his addiction, and wanting to do better in her adult life. But even as an adult she still didn’t know how to do that.
A: I think it’s because she tried to see the best in her parents, instead of focusing solely on what they lacked. It gave her a bit more perspective when it came to her parents, but I agree, she struggled with that into adulthood.
X: She was very close with her dad, she saw more of the good side of him than her siblings did. Her relationship with her mom wasn’t as close as the one with her dad, but even then I think she was very understanding when her parents did do stuff wrong.

Many children grow up in poverty and have parents that abuse substances. Why were the Walls children able to rise out of their circumstances?
S: Because living through situations like that as a child teaches you how not to be. It makes you want to better your life so you don’t have to live the same way or you don’t have to put your children through the things that you encountered.
A: I think they saw their parents as a beautiful example of what not to do. That’s how I did it when it came to my dad’s drinking.
X: I think they were able to rise out of their circumstances because they saw their dad drinking a lot and didn’t like it. So they knew what not to do when they got older. They always stuck together too.

How do you think you would have reacted to being raised like a Walls? How would it change your perspective or approach to life?
S: I don’t think it would change so much seeing as how I grew up similarly to them. I wasn’t as nomadic, but at the same time to be on the poverty level that they were on, it makes me a little more grateful for the things that I have today.
A: I think I’d value things like running water, food whenever I wanted it, and a comfortable bed a lot more. Especially indoor plumbing. I think the reaction of Lori and Jeannette when they first get the apartment in New York is perfectly described as a paradise to them where as we might see it as sub-par from our own perspectives.
X: I don’t even know. I can’t imagine if my life had been like that. I probably would have felt bad about myself, even if that was selfish. I would definitely appreciate things more because I feel like I take a lot of things for granted.

Why did the parents follow their children to New York? Why did the children keep seeing them?
S: Because they’re a family and families stick together no matter how messed up they may be. Rex and Rose Mary love their kids and wanted to know that they were okay as adults as well.
A: I think that they just wanted to be with their kids. I agree that they’re a family, and family sticks together. Once all the kids were in New York, it was only a matter of time before they burned out their connections in Welch and joined them in New York.
X: I feel like just as much as the kids needed them when they were younger, they needed them as well. They obviously love their kids, and even though they abused them when they were younger, a parent loves their kids. I think that they wanted to support their kids.

Discuss Rose Mary Walls. What did you think about her description of herself as an “excitement addict”?
S: I don’t think she’s so much an excitement addict as she was selfish with her own wants. And that did portray her as an adventurous person, but I feel like that adventure was forced by Rex not keeping a job and her not working and them being forced to Skedaddle all the time.
A: I don’t think that she was an excitement addict so much as she loved her husband. It was one of those things she told herself so that she could continue being positive.
X: I think it’s not as much excitement, as she liked the adrenaline. You could see it when her and Rex would get into these big arguments that right after they’d be in love again.

How did the new scenes of Jeannette as an adult square with your read of her from the book?
S: Her portrayal between the book and the movie was not equal in any way. I think she was more sheltered and reluctant and not as eager to claim her parents as hers. I think in the movie maybe the people she was around influenced her feelings about her parents than in the book.
A: I felt like they were slightly disjointed. Like they didn’t quite fit. Like the target version of something versus the Walmart version. You have to look closely to find the difference but it’s there. She was quieter in the book, kept her head down and worked her way out of her situation through the determination of sheer will.
X: In the book I feel like she’s not as outgoing as the movie makes it out. I feel like she’s a little more reserved. And I think in the book it shows when she first sees her mom digging in the dumpster that she’s embarrassed of her parents.

How did the scenes of Jeannette as an adult change your perspective of her or her relationship with her family? Did it work for you? Why or why not?
S: It did to a certain extent. I feel like in the book her and her siblings were a lot closer than they were in the movie. They at least communicated more than they appeared to in the movie.
A: The movie made her seem a little more stuck up than in the book. You could see she felt affection toward her family, but the book explains it so much better. It was different.
X: Like Steph said, they were definitely a lot closer in the book and you saw how their relationship from childhood to adult hood grew and it was probably even bigger because they share that trauma. I feel like the movie showed them as separated and they hardly saw each other. I wish they had showed the relationship with the kids more than the relationship with the dad because the relationship with her siblings was a lot bigger.

The movie centers on Jeannette’s relationship with her father in particular. Why did they have a special relationship?
S: I feel like because she was the only one out of the kids that he gave a Nickname too they were closer and being a middle child, she definitely understood his addictions. She believed in him, and the glass castle, longer than everyone else.
A: He was closer to her than to her siblings. I think he loved them all equally, but if he had a favorite, it was Jeannette and her relationship with her father shaped her entire life.
X: I think the question he asked a lot throughout both the book and movie was “do you still believe in your dad” and she always said yes when he asked. They had more intimate conversations than he did with the other siblings.

How did Naomi Watts’ version of Rose Mary compare with Rose Mary in the book? Was she abused by Rex? Was she as good a parent as Rex?
S: I think they were equally shitty parents. I feel like she was portrayed in the book as a slightly more caring parent than in the movie. Only because in the book her and the children had more meaningful conversations about Rex’s addiction. I don’t feel like he technically abused her, because she knew about the situation at hand and did nothing to better herself or her children even though she had several opportunities to do so.
A: I felt like they left too much out of the movie for the character to pop. She came off more like someone who didn’t care in the movie, where as in the book we see that she does care about her children a lot, she’s just not a great mother. She’s the kind of person who would make an interesting friend, but not a good mother. The movie also didn’t show too much about how she struggled with depression and wrestled with doing the right thing.
X: I feel like they romanticized her as a mother more in the movie. In the books you could see she was as equally neglectful as Rex. When you watch the movie you think she’s just stuck but really she kept herself there. Naomi Watts’ version was terrible. I feel like they should have shown more interactions between the parents because they put a lot more in the book that showed Rex’s more abusive side.

What was your favorite part?
S: My favorite part of the movie was Christmas when they had nothing to give the children, and Rex took them out and gave them each a star (or planet if you’ll have it) because that’s something that couldn’t be taken away from them. And he was actually a smart man, so he was informative in telling them about the star or planet they chose.
A: When he gifted the kids the stars. That was smart, they may not have had much, but he gave them something that no one could take, and that was something they remembered fondly about their dad. He encouraged their adventures and reading. That was the greatest part. Despite everything they tried to teach the kids and they were all very intelligent, which probably made everything so much worse somehow.
X: My favorite part, which they didn’t add in the movie, was the tinker bell doll, because when she was trying to see her pretty face in the fire she melted. And even though her doll melted, she still loved it.

Any last comments about the book or movie?
S: Hands down best book I’ve read, I’ve related to it more than any book I’ve ever read.
A: It was a good book, I enjoyed it a lot. I can see why it’s Steph and Xe’s favorite book.
X: Pretty much what Steph said, it’s the best book ever, it’s my favorite book. The movie was nice but it did not stand to my expectations.

The Walls family

Ratings:

Stephanie: Five stars for the book hands down. Five stars for Woody Harrelson playing Rex Walls in the movie. And 2.5 stars, 3 if you’re lucky, because it was considerably inconsistent with the book.

Stephanie’s Rating: 5 Stars

Amber: I gave the book four stars, because it was really really good. I would actually give it 4.5, but I didn’t make graphics for half stars. Sorry. It was a good read, I don’t read memoirs often, and this kept me intrigued. I can see why Steph liked it, and Xe also. I loved it and I would read it again. The movie get’s three stars. Maybe. Woody Harrelson get’s five stars.

Amber’s Rating: 4.5 Stars

Xe: The book is five stars, immaculate, a masterpiece, the holy grail. But for the movie, I’ll give it a three. It’s only at a three because of Woody Harrelson’s immaculate portrayal of Rex.

Xe’s Rating: 5 stars

Well, that’s it for now. This is the first non-fiction book for the Book Club, so let us know what you think. What’s your favorite book? Alright my friends, I’m off. Be safe, drink your water, don’t eat yellow snow, and have an adventure.

Xe: Woody Harrelson should have played all the characters.
Steph: I concur. Except for Jeannette, who the child actor was Mountain Goat all the way.
Amber: *Shakes head fondly*

Bye Bye Butterfly

The Arkane World

Okay folks, it’s occurred to me that though I am now working on the third book for the Bluebird Chronicles, and I’ve told you quite a bit about different settings and characters, I haven’t told you much about the Arkane world. Even the setting for Port Shadeau (My Short Story Saturday series) is in the Arkane world and the rules aren’t exactly explained. I aim to rectify that in the future. Not only am I running out of settings that I can tell you about, not settings that exist mind you, but settings that I can reveal right now, but I want to start letting you in on more of the Arkane world than I can conceivably convey in just one series.

The Arkane world is vast. Made up of six Arkane Alliances that span several countries and continents, sometimes completely ignoring the boundary lines that we know on our own maps. The Alliances are made up of Territories, each of which is ruled over by the Crone of that Territory. There are thirty-three Crones in all, throughout the entire world. Serving under the Crones, and charged with keeping the peace between the Elentori (Magical Creatures like Vampires, Werewolves, etc.), the Arkane (Humans with abilities that pertain to one of the six elements), and the Karhu (Non-magical humans) are the sixty-six Sages, and the sixty-six Lords or Ladies. There are two of each per Territory. The Sages are primarily in charge of the Elentori population, where as the Lords and Ladies are in charge of the Arkane population within their specific Territory.

For example, Baxter Vartlett is the Crone in charge of Territory Three of the North American Arkane Alliance (NAAA). Working for him are the Sages, Atlas Rivers (Eldritch Demon), and Ivy Herrick (Vampire). They are in charge of the entire Elentori population residing within the borders of the Midwest Territory. Velvela Dewbrook and Antonella Havendale are the Ladies in charge of the Arkane population. The Karhu are regulated by their own governmental bodies.

If the Crones are equivalent to the President, the Sages and Lords/Ladies are the governors. It helps keep crime to a minimum, and peace between the three groups of people. There are members of the Karhu governments that do know about the Arkane world, though the number is limited.

The Arkane world boasts sixty-six schools designed to teach the Arkane children. They don’t start school until they turn sixteen and do not finish until they are twenty or twenty-one, depending on where their birthday falls. Some schools are smaller, but there are several larger ones that teach speciality information that isn’t as common. Arkane schools teach the Arkane children how to control their abilities as they correspond to the six elements: Earth, Air, Water, Fire, Metal, and Wood. As Arkane children hit puberty, their abilities start to manifest. They can be as mundane as helping plants to grow, like Cedar Wolfendale, or manifesting and controlling air currents in small areas, like Izara Sutton, who regularly floats six inches off the floor while wearing ballet Pointe shoes because she can. Then there are people like Keita Hayes, who when upset can burn the surrounding flora in a one-hundred foot radius from the inside out, or Rowan Alderton, who can manipulate emotions. There are also some abilities that are completely useless, and others that are dangerous, so training is very important.

In addition to the Elentori and Arkane populations, there are also magical creatures and other such things that exist as part of the Arkane world. I plan to get into all of them a little more deeply as the weeks go on, because explaining the Arkane world, that took me over a decade to create, with quite a bit of help, cannot be summed up in one blog post. This is just the introduction to a very long series. Come along for a ride and learn about the world that The Bluebird Chronicles and the next couple of series are based in. I can’t wait to show you everything.

Jackelope’s are just one of the many magical creatures that exist in the Arkane World.

So my friends, thanks for reading thus far. As always, be safe, drink your water, don’t eat yellow snow, and have a wonderful adventure this weekend my loves. Ta ta!

Bye Bye Butterfly!

My Summer Reading List – Summer 2022

Amber Marie’s Summer Reading List Graphic

This summer I am going to read a lot of books. My goal is 12, but I’m sure there will be more! Between the Summer Solstice and the Fall Equinox there are exactly 12 weeks. My current TBR list…it’s over fifty books long. So there are a lot of choices. In the past I’ve decided what order I was going to read in, not this time. Several of these books don’t even come out at different points in the summer. Some of them are already out, or came out recently. I’m excited about it. So without further ado, here’s the list. Read with me if you want. Or feel free to suggest more books that you think I should read.

Amber Marie’s 2k22 Summer Reading List
(In order of publication date)

Temptation by Ivy Smoak – published April 8, 2015
Suddenly Dirty by JA Law – published April 1, 2016
Mr. Perfect by JA Huss – published April 27, 2016
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover – published August 2, 2016
Firefighter Griffin by Zoe Chant – published December 3, 2016

Greed by Lana Pecherczyk – published July 8, 2019
Bad Prince by Lilian Monroe – published October 1, 2019
The Longing of Lone Wolves by Lana Pecherczyk – published June 8, 2020
Curvy Girls Can’t Date Quarterbacks by Kelsie Stelting – published July 31, 2020
Promises and Pomegranates by Sav R. Miller – published August 10, 2021

Reborn by Anne K. Whelan & Liz Cain – published August 13, 2021
Hooked by Emily McIntyre – published September 7, 2021
A Throne of Ruin by K.F. Breene – published November 12, 2021
Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score – published January 13, 2022
Shattered Altar by Nicole Fox – published April 28, 2022

The Wild Side by Cassie-Ann L. Miller – published May 12, 2022
Filthy Rich Vampire by Genova Lee Albin – published May 24, 2022
Phoebe by Minerva Spencer – published May 31, 2022
A Frankness of Character by Pemberly Darcy and A. Lady – published June 3, 2022
Filthy by Tia Louise – published June 9, 2022

Hell Gate by Veronica Eden – published June 9, 2022
Rowan by Robin D. Mahle – published June 9, 2022
Alpha’s Redemption by Skye Wilson – published June 13, 2022
An Unpleasant Sort of Man by Michelle D’Arcy – published June 14, 2022
Blind Side by Kandi Steiner – published June 15, 2022

(These titles not yet published)
On Thin Ice by Kat Obie – published June 23, 2022
Not a Vampire by Auryn Hadley – June 24, 2022
Tangle of Dragons by Jane Darkspire – published June 27, 2022
The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston – published June 28, 2022
Yellow by N.M. Burns – published June 29, 2022

Click the Bell to Subscribe by N. M. Burns – published June 29, 2022
Captured by Billionaires by Drusilla Swan – published June 30, 2022
The Phoenix Prophecy: Nova by Cara Clare – published July 1, 2022
Deucalion Academy: Pawn of the Gods by Ruby Vincent – published July 2, 2022
Audrey by Elle Lincoln – published July 5, 2022

The Sedition of Sophie Covey by Tana Rose – published July 5, 2022
Blood and Vows by K. Easton & Amanda Richardson – published July 7, 2022
Amp by Sybur Phyre – published July 11, 2022
Noire by Anna Fury – published July 12, 2022
Demons So Dark by Alessa Allure – published July 22, 2022

Midnight Sin by Morgan Elliott – published July 26, 2022
Silenced by Jayce Carter – published July 26, 2022
A Vampire in Rosings Park by Penelope Talbot & A. Lady – published July 30, 2022
Invoking the Blood by Kalista Neith – published August 2, 2022
A History of Vampires: A New Queen by Amanda Lewis – August 8, 2022

Ruthless by Gena Showalter – published August 9, 2022
Consort by Ada Dart – published August 14, 2022
Dawn of the Dark Ice by Grady P. Brown -published August 21, 2022
Small Town, Big Magic by Hazel Beck – published August 23, 2022
Numinous by Victoria Woods – published August 23, 2022

Sanctuary by Holly Hanzo – published August 26, 2022
Pack of Lies by Charlie Adhara – published August 30, 2022
Wolf Found by Kaylin Peyerk – published August 31, 2022
Vamps: Fresh Blood by Nicole Arend – published September 1, 2022
The Siren and the Water Witch by Cameron Allie – September 16, 2022
Fated to be King by Skye Alder – published September 16, 2022

That’s the list. I hope you enjoy it. If you decide to read along with me, let me know which ones you pick and what you think of it! You never know, I could just invite you to help out with a Book Review for Complicated Houseplants! Well, that’s it for now my loves, as always, be safe, drink your water, don’t eat yellow snow, and have a wonderful adventure!

Bye Bye Butterfly

Happy Birthday to ME!!

June is my birthday month. When I was a kid, I loved that my birthday was six months from Christmas. Presents every six months. The perfect set up when I was a kid. With back to school time and easter falling somewhere in the middle, I got stuff every six months. Which mostly meant new books for me, because I am a giant book dragon. Or, if it wasn’t new books, it was new music. Or movies. All three were my go to presents. Until I started writing, then all I wanted were notebooks and pens. It works out great for me.

As an adult, I value the time I get to spend with my friends and family more than physical items. Now when my birthday rolls around, I spend some time reflecting on the previous year. The personal wins, the personal losses. I flip through them like a memory book, and decide what I will and what I won’t go into the next year with. I let go of emotions that do not support the goals that I plan to achieve in the coming months. This year was no different. When my birthday hit on the seventh, I took stock of my life. Of the past twelve months and did what I always do. So here, is my manifesto for the next year.

Amber Marie, Age 37

This year, I will not be putting up with things that do not serve me. I will not tolerate Racism, Homophobia, Transphobia, or anything that you want to call a phobia but isn’t because you aren’t really afraid of it. I will not tolerate negligent and purposeful stupidity. I want to level up. I want to surround myself better, both in mind and in body.

I’ve been going to the doctor, I’m going to physical therapy for my knees. Next will be for my back. I’m only 37, I’d like to be able to play with my grandson as he gets older. I have an appointment at the VA to see how bad my carpal tunnel, ulner tunnel and my tendonitis has gotten, and take the steps necessary to fix it if I can. I’m seeing specialists to see why I get dizzy when I’m sitting down. It’s all a little scary, but I’m doing what I can to get it figured out. I’m drinking my water, taking my vitamins, and doing my yoga. I’ve started a low-impact boxing regimen from home with Dribble Up boxing gloves (which I absolutely love by the way).

In addition to all of those changes, I’ve made the decision to go back on my ADHD meds. It’s been chaos around here and I need to focus up a little better. So back on the meds we go until I can get the coping mechanisms readjusted. Which isn’t something I’ve ever shied away from, nor will I ever. My neurodivergence will never, ever go away. I made my peace with that a long time ago. So, now we go through the cycle of coping mechanisms, and medication as is needed. It’s fine with me. I don’t mind. It helps.

Theo, the newest addition to our little family.

In addition to the mental and physical health stuff, I have goals. By the time I turn 38, I will have all five of The Bluebird Chronicles books written and turned in. At least the first drafts. Two down, three to go. I’ve outlined the third book, and have started writing it. I just have to finish it, and the next two. It’s an achievable goal if I keep working like I have been.

I also have other ideas that need to be fleshed out and edited. No Ordinary Love is in the midst of a re-write, turning it from Third person to First person. Reworking it so that both Ember and Mason have an equal voice in the story. I think it will strengthen it and make it better. Then I think I’m going to shop it around a bit. Once that’s finished, there’s a few more projects I’m going to work on. Starting with It Could Be Monsters and Black Balloon. The goal is to get these published, whether I do that with self-publishing or finding a traditional publisher like I did for The Bluebird Chronicles, that’s yet to be determined. My goal is simply to finish them.

Me and My Grandson. He’s 3 months old and amazing.

In addition to my personal writing goals, I’ve made some professional ones. I like my job, don’t get me wrong. That picture there, that’s in my home work office. Different from where I create, it’s where I do my job. I get a lot of downtime some days while I work. I like it, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t make me happy. It pays the bills and I get to help people. It is fulfilling, it’s a fabulous opportunity, yes, but I don’t want to do this forever. So, I’m making some changes. I’ve reworked my resume, found a way to add my writing experience into it. I would like to write for a living. I’ve signed up to do some ghost writing through a company, and while it might not pay enough to quit my job, but it’s enough for a side hustle. At least until I can get my feet wet in that kind of industry. But being able to write all day, everyday, that my friends is the new dream.

I once said that I wouldn’t want to write for a living. I wouldn’t want to take something I love so much and turn it into something I didn’t want to do at the end of the day. I’ve grown, I want to write. So, I’m going to make that a reality. If I can’t be writing full time by the time my next birthday rolls around, well, I hope I have some more professional work to make my resume shine. Even if all it does is help pad my professional Freelance career. Here’s to hoping it works.

Theo, helping me write. Or so he thinks. He’s not very good at it, but he tries.

Speaking of side hustles, I’m working on a few other things that would help with my passive income. Help me build a little more than I currently have. I keep joking that I’m building an empire, but that really is what I’m trying to do, just on a small level. I want to be able to live a happy and free life, doing what I love. These are just the first steps. Hopefully by next year, I’ll be ready for phase two, or phase three. Cross your fingers.

I’m not taking anyone, or anything into the next year that doesn’t help help me achieve these goals. I have two kids turning eighteen before my next birthday. Another one right behind them. All but one of my kids are high schoolers now. Two freshman, one Junior, and two Seniors. It’s insane that it’s happened so fast. I blinked, so don’t do that. I swear. Don’t. Before I know it, my grandson will be walking and talking and I don’t know what to do with that.

My Cousin Stephanie and I at the Halsey concert she bought me tickets to for my birthday. Was an amazing show! I will never forget it!

So, happy June everyone. I hope your summers are amazing and fun and full of adventure. I hope you create memories that you cannot forget. I hope that everything you want to happen this summer, happens for you.

Until next time my wonderful friends, drink your water, don’t eat yellow snow, and have an adventure. ❤