Tag Archives: Abuse

#BookReview. Graveyards of the Banks 1. I did it for the money by @NylaNox

REVIEWS FOR LITERARY WORLD REVIEWS

Graveyards of the Banks by Nyla Nox
Graveyards of the Banks by Nyla Nox

Title:   Graveyards of the Banks – I did it for the money: Seven Seasons of Midnights at the Most Successful Bank in the Universe
Author:   Nyla Nox
ASIN:  B00U7HRVNK
Published:  March 2015
Pages:  176
Genre:  
Business and Money/Banks and Banking. Contemporary Fiction/ Women’s Fiction

Description:

One woman’s toxic workplace hell.
Nyla Nox stumbles into a world of corporate bullying and shame at the world’s most successful institution. You won’t believe what goes on there…
The graphics center of the Most Successful Bank in the Universe (a real bank, but not its real name!), where Nyla ends up, is a graveyard of broken dreams where artists, psychologists, historians, philosophers and even teachers end up ‘doing it for the money’ while the bankers, who treat them like scum, are being brutally groomed to become the leaders of tomorrow.
What do you really know about life inside the Big Banks?
Did you know that, right now as you read this, a hidden tribe of jobless humanities graduates is working deep inside those secret and powerful institutions? Do you have any idea how toxic these workplaces are? And how badly most of the workers in the banks (who are not bankers themselves) are treated? Do you know why they are treated like this?
‘Graveyards of the Banks’ tells the truth about life in the Banks, about life as a single woman in London, about saying farewell to broken dreams and surviving (just!) a hair raising sequence of corporate attacks on your dignity, your self-esteem and even on your physical health, night after night, just to make rent.
Life is never dull at the Most Successful Bank in the Universe. The night shift is a battle field of bullies and bitches, emotions go wild at 4AM, and Nyla has to fight for survival every single minute.
Do you realize that the corporate bullying and shaming is not an accident? Nyla stumbles into that world, the Bank’s playground and training ground for Survival of the Fittest. The top bankers talk about it as their ‘killing ground’.
Nyla Nox was interviewed about her life in the Banks by the London Guardian and has written about her book and her experience in many well known international magazines. Her story seems to be an inconvenient truth, too extreme to believe. But her truth has been confirmed, again and again, by the Big Banks themselves, through their own announcements.
Read for yourself how the toxic banking system rots our hearts and minds, and our society. And as Nyla’s story shows, you don’t need to be a banker to be directly affected.
Whoever you are, the Banks are deciding your life for you.

“..Quite a few interviewees have described investment banks as abusive environments. But they seem to consider this an outcome, not an act of design. Nyla Nox thinks it’s deliberate. [Her story] struck me as perhaps extreme, but reading her experiences perhaps she did see the beast in the eye.”
Joris Luyendijk, The Guardian.
“ Wow. This was an amazing, moving book. … You know how a show like The Office perfectly captured everyone you work with in an office setting? This book does that with the financial world, while at the same time making you feel like you’re walking through this financial hell with Dante.”
Aaron Hoos, Financial Fiction Reviews
“… Graveyards of the Banks is somewhat reminiscent of Kafka’s ‘The Castle’ The Castle, in its descriptions of labyrinthine hierarchy and bureaucracy. … reminiscent in some ways of fascism, a brand of fascism without swastikas and SS uniforms. Nyla Nox also compares bank work conditions to Mordor, the land of evil in Tolkien’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’.”
‘Dear Kitty’ social justice blog.

My review:

I am reviewing this book as part of the Lit World Interviews review team and was offered a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Nyla, the protagonist of this novel-cum-memoir (the author is also called Nyla and in the description of the book she explains the narration is born of her personal experience working for a bank, which although it remains nameless, it’s ‘the Most Successful Bank in the Universe’) works for the department preparing the publications that seemingly are the only visible output the bank produces. These always show predictions of growth for their clients, although as she discovers, such predictions are based on no real data. It’s a con but it must look good.

We only know the basics about the protagonist, who is an anthropology graduate and after years of trying to make a living out of her vocation is close to destitution (in fact at the beginning of the novel, when she’s going to undertake the selection test to get the job that will occupy the rest of the book, she only has £3 in her pocket). We know she lives in a bedsit, but nothing about her personal life, family or relationships. She talks about her love of studying, books, Philosophy, and the first person narration puts the reader inside her head, and we suffer with her the claustrophobia, the harassment, the bullying, and the minor joys (very minimal) she experiences. It does not make for easy reading, let me tell you.

Nyla is very insightful, both about the world and society around her (and she offers great anthropological, sociological and political insights, including how this bank’s behaviour towards his employees is only different in style rather to historical fascist regimes, even if they prefer to see it as social Darwinism) and about herself. She observes others, she tries to study ways of surviving (she’s doing it for the money, she keeps telling herself, to try and get to ‘a better place’), and she knows she is no better than others. Her comments about becoming the witch bitch reminded me of an article I read years back by Barbara Creed about Alien and what she called ‘the monstrous feminine’. Oh yes, she can be scary, but she’s strong.

There are lighter moments, like her songs dedicated to the sweets machine (and although she doesn’t name them, we know them) but these get swallowed up by the soul-destroying routine of working at the bank.

The bank (and the author’s descriptions of the place and the situation brought to my mind not only Kafka and Orwell but also the movie Brazil) is next door to an old graveyard where the protagonist spends some of her waiting time and this London graveyard is the perfect backdrop to the action and a mirror image of the institution, only the graveyard doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t (and seems more welcoming). Like the air conditioning system, filled with nobody knows what, and a nest of corruption and sickness, the whole empire seems to be a bomb ticking. Like Nyla, who fantasises about being sacked, but worries about how she’d manage, we want to see the place collapse but don’t want Nyla to go under. The ending of this first book in the series is a cliffhanger for what might come when Monsters Arise.

This is a fascinating book, a very subjective experience for the reader, but not a novel with a plot full of action. We get to know the inside of the character’s mind but not her life. I don’t think it’s a book for everybody but it’s a scary look into a world some might have suspected existed, but not quite like this. If you want to know more about investment banking from a totally unique perspective, and you dare, go for it.

 

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 4/5
Made Me Think: 5/5
Overall enjoyment: 4.5/5
Readability: 4/5
Recommended: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
 

Buy it at:  
Format & Pricing:
Kindle: $3.05

I thought I’d share some ‘pearls’ from the book:

‘After all, the Bank was supposed to know things nobody else did and could penetrate the darkness of economic confusion as well as predict the future. I have no idea how much our clients knew about our processing methods but in reality they were part of a ‘one size fits all’ production line.’

‘After all my time at the Bank, reading so many of their Books, I am at a complete loss to understand why the clients kept coming back, and kept paying our exorbitant fees for a service (‘copy and mutilate’) that was insultingly incompetent and had been discredited time after time. The only explanation I can come up with is that they must have been true believers in the natural leadership of high finance, and as such impervious to experience. ‘

‘After all, we were not one of those inept public service bureaucracies where the staff got sick leave and pensions.’

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com

 

A @COLLEENCHESEBRO INTERVIEW of @REBIRTHOFLISA ABOUT THE MISTREATMENT OF ZORA LANGSTON

Silver and Lisa

 

 

 

 

I would like to introduce you to Lisa W. Tetting, the author of her first novel, The Mistreatment of Zora Langston, which can be purchased on Amazon. I have had the pleasure of getting to know Lisa for at least the last six months, as our paths seemed to cross often in the WordPress blog world. I have read many of her poems, insightful blog posts, and reviewed her debut novel, The Mistreatment of Zora Langston, which you can find here.

Mistreatment of Zora Langston

I was deeply moved by the main character in Lisa’s book, Zora Langston. Through Lisa’s writing, Zora tells her story with all the wisdom a nine-year-old girl could share.  The reader lives through her, and experiences what the child goes through on a daily basis.  I was visually shaken after the confrontation with Zora’s, mother’s boyfriend.

There is sexual abuse and violence portrayed in the book.  However, Lisa portrays this abuse realistically through the words of young Zora. This young child handles her circumstances with the grace and dignity of a true survivor.  I was drawn into Zora’s world.  I felt her pain and neglect, and her joy and sorrow.  All I wanted to do, was grab this child, hug her, and never let her go!

Interviewing Lisa about her book

 

 

I enjoyed this book immensely and wanted to find out more about Lisa and her inspiration for Zora Langston.  Here is what Lisa had to say:

Colleen: Lisa, please tell me something about yourself, so your readers can get to know you better. Where do you currently live?

Lisa: I am the youngest of seven children. I grew up in Eastern North Carolina and love being from the South. An introvert at heart, I am working on being more social. It was my dream to be a writer and after 45 years of living, I finally decided to stop being scared and do something I wanted to do. I currently live in Tampa, FL with the love of my life, my husband.

Colleen: Are you a full time writer?

Lisa: Yes, I write full time. I currently author my blog, Rebirth of Lisa, as well as freelance as a guest blogger on another site called, Thoughtful Minds United. I am currently writing another novel and a self-help book with tentative release dates slated for later this year.

Colleen: Lisa, what inspired you to write your first book?

Lisa: I have wanted to write since I was a child, but never felt confident that I could actually do it. I finally decided I would try my hand at living my dream.

Colleen: What is the message you want your readers to get from The Mistreatment of Zora Langston?

Lisa:  I want readers to know they can survive anything, as long as they have faith, and believe in themselves. They don’t have to end up doing the wrong things in life because something bad happened to them.

Colleen: Lisa, who is your favorite author, and explain what inspires you about their work?

Lisa: My favorite author is hard to pin down because there are a few that have influenced me, but if I must choose only one, I will say Maya Angelou. She was so uplifting and positive. She was not the classic beauty, but she was elegant and smart, and she made words sing. Maya Angelou was an amazing woman who was very open-minded, and in my opinion, the best writer to live during my lifetime.

Colleen: What was the hardest part about writing your book?

The most difficult part of writing my book was writing the sexual abuse scenes. I was never abused myself, but had to put myself in Zora’s place to see what it was like. It was emotional to say the least.

Lisa, thank you so much for spending some time with us all and letting us get to know you, and your inspiration for “The Mistreatment of Zora Langston.”

In addition, you can find Lisa on:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13650235.Lisa_W_Tetting

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rebirthoflisa

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rebirthoflisa/

Instagram: https://instagram.com/rebirthoflisa/

Email: rebirthoflisa@aol.com

Colleen_Silver_Threading

 

 

 

 

@ColleenChesebro

SilverThreading.com

 

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© Copyright-All rights reserved by LitWorldInterviews.wordpress.com 2015

50 Shades – Storm in a Teacup a Woman’s Thoughts by @FTThum

50 shades of grey

I asked Florence to write a piece about 50 Shades of Grey since she had both read the books and seen the movie. With her therapist and lawyer/professor background I thought it would an interesting and intelligent experience for us all. Did it turn out as I expected? Read and find out. If you dare.~Ronovan

Fifty Shades of Grey (’50 Shades’) – trilogy and movie – have caused quite a storm in the media. Its critics have labelled it anti-feminist, for glorifying abuse and violence, for normalising domestic violence, and the list goes on.

In the wake of socio-political discourses rippling through social and news media, I (and eleven gal pals) went to see it on the second day after it was released.

50ShadesofGreyCoverArt

The story in a nut shell

A little about the trilogy and the movie for those who have not read or watched it. The trilogy is largely written in the first person – the voice of Anastasia Steele, the female protagonist, who is a twenty-something senior at university in the first book to a journalist in later books. Anastasia meets Christian Grey who is in his late twenties and a billionaire entrepreneur. There is a sexual spark in their first meeting which led to her being ‘pursued’ by the guy in question. What then transpires is open to interpretation (I will get to this shortly).

The movie follows the book closely, with a few inconsequential differences. As in the books, the plot is thin revolving around Christian’s past returning to haunt him and a typical separation and reunion of lovers. There are few heights to attain, except sexually J. This trilogy could have been contained in one book if the explicit sex scenes were removed, but then it would not be Fifty Shades, now would it?

The plot is simplistic – addressing the tension between the influences of the past on the present, and whether present lust and love can assure a future together; the conflict between what each of the protagonists consider right and wrong, normal and abnormal, pain and pleasure. Oft times, the boundaries are blurred, hence the grey metaphor. By the way, Christian describes himself as “50 shades of fucked up”.

Yes, it is a romance/fairytale, with a significant difference – a male protagonist with BDSM proclivities. Like any other romance, Christian Grey is ‘wooing’ Anastasia, except here, that means she is to ‘submit’ to him.

As a reader, I found the prose in the book lacking. Somehow I suspect EL James did not proffer the trilogy as a literary masterpiece. Then again, millions (around the 100 million mark internationally at last look) have bought this book. Why? Because most readers, I am led to believe, are focused on the emotional relationship instead of the sexual one between Christian and Anastasia. I found the trilogy an easy read, an enjoyable romp, and from these perspectives, entertaining.

The same goes for the movie. I did not go expecting the sensuality and mystery of Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, neither was I expecting the arthouse production of ‘The Lover’, ‘Belle de Jour’ or ‘Sex and Lucia’. Fifty Shades is modern erotic romance/fairytale, pure and simple, with a screenplay very much in line with the first book in the trilogy. The actors are a surprise – Dakota Johnson’s portrayal of Anastasia is accurate though a little grittier. Jamie Dornan’s depiction of Christian – brooding, dark and with enough mystery to invite exploration – is attractive enough.

Overall, if I must, I will give this movie a 2 out of 5. And I guess if your child is sufficiently curious to want to see this movie, then perhaps it is time to begin those difficult and exciting conversations. It is unlikely to be suitable for those under the age of 16.

Now we come to the crux of this post – the controversy surrounding issues of abuse/violence.

Another interpretation

But first, AN interpretation of the storyline.

I see a man traumatized by his past, who exerts controls to feel safe and secure. I see a young woman naïve in the ways of love, sex and relationships who fell in love with a man who is perhaps too complex for her. He wants her on his terms (the much referred to contract to be specific) and takes steps to ensure she understands the terms, urging her to research and also explaining what and how. She in her innocence believes she could be what he wants, who could satisfy him, and that love can surpass every obstacle. There are emotional conflicts and moral tensions.

What I have said so far does not justify the potential harmful effects this relationship could have on Anastasia. Not at all. Yes, Christian could be a predator. Yes, Anastasia could be a victim. And yes, the relationship could be fatal.

‘The Storm’

50 Shades doing

What bothers me about the Storm are these:

  • As I read the many articles urging women, particularly young women, not to go see the movie because they would be drawn into romanticising abuse/violence, expecting violence to be ‘normal’, I feel disempowered. I feel angry.
  • As I read of pronouncements of the negative impacts of Christian’s behaviour, and his all-powerful and manipulative personality presented as a given, and against whom women have no defence and so must hide, I feel fear then infuriation.

Once again I, a woman, am being told to do this but not that, be this or else. Once again I, a woman, is considered incapable of caring for myself, to make decisions that are right for me. Once again I, a woman, need to be protected from my own actions.

And because I am potential prey, potential victim, then I must behave as one – disempowered and in fear.

In the name of protection, and dare I say it, paternalism is alive and well. Oh, just to clarify, I am not referring to men or male persons, but rather paternalism.

So not much exhortation of the behaviour of men in this respect. Much less empathy for a man in Christian’s situation. Yet lots have been said of what women (we are all Anastasia it would seem) should or should not do.

Take for example the movie ‘The Hangover’. I find it offensive in its portrayal of what is acceptable men behaviour, it normalizes binge drinking, drug taking, ‘lad’ behaviour and despite some criticisms (it is crass and has a rather thin plot line), the majority opinion falls onto the side of ‘boys will be boys’. Any calls for men not to watch this movie? Somehow the underlying message may be that men have and can make choices, or that it is fine for men to behave so. Regardless, it is just a hilariously funny comedy. Well, 50 Shades is a romance story with a twist. It does not agree with our consensus reality of (i) damsel in distress being rescued by the knight in shining armour or the all-powerful woman who fully knows her heart and mind; and (ii) ‘normal’ sexual expressions for a woman.

Heaven forbid that a woman desires sensuality. Is it shocking that a woman might choose to explore? To entertain the possibility of engaging in something beyond vanilla sex? To have emotional conflicts or doubts about a sexual relationship?  It is perhaps more palatable to explain this ‘aberrant’ behaviour from a place of victim than choice.

Here is a twenty-something young university graduate with a major in English Lit but somehow she cannot be responsible say, for her alcohol consumption vis-à-vis this man? Ok, that is not the point, maybe it is. We have at times in our lives been naïve, we have battled our emotions, our rational thoughts, our lust; and we have made decisions that are not for our well-being.

I am not perfect. It is alright to not-know, to grapple with my emotions, my desires, my rational mind. Yes, if Anastasia was my daughter, my protective instinct would have me say ‘stay away’ yet somehow, I suspect in the seduction of passion, my words may fall on deaf ears.

To demonize Christian as THE predator and to portray Anastasia as THE prey/victim do not allow space for the grey-ness that is life. Most importantly it suggests in this instance a given immovable power of men over women.

punishment

Another approach

I am a mother of a young daughter. I know to prohibit would most likely have the effect of arousing her curiosity. To prohibit imposes my values, my views on her. Most importantly, it disempowers her.

The books and the movie show the conflict Anastasia is confronted with, of having to decide ‘will she’ or ‘won’t she’. Ultimately what matters more is the process and what ‘tools’ she has to make this rather significant decision.

So, I will teach my daughter the difference between love and lust, romance and real life, sensuality and violence. I will teach her that to understand a man (or anyone) and the reasons for his flaws does not mean we have to accept them, that for everything we do sexually merely for the sake of sex, we lose something precious within ourselves. I will teach her to listen and trust her instincts.

I will guide my daughter as she discovers love does not require self-sacrifice or compromising her self-worth, her pride; love does not demand mindless giving in. I will journey with her in her life which will have conflicts and tensions she needs navigate, difficult decisions she will have to make.

And all these I will also teach my son – respect for self and others, self-love and compassion.

My daughter I trust could hold to this – to resist the decisions and consequences that make her small. To quote a wise woman, that which would cause her ‘to bonsai herself’ – small and bound. No pun intended here.

Perhaps the storm is a storm in a teacup, if we could speak another story, another narrative that unites rather than judges and separates.

My final words

As a professional woman of a certain age and a feminist who has read the trilogy and watched the movie, I will say that I enjoyed them all, for what they are.

This need not be just a story of BDSM and abuse/violence and a woman who fell prey to the ‘evil’ man, a victim. I will privilege a different narrative. It is a story of both protagonists’ journey of manoeuvring through the confusing states of being human – our desires, our wants, what’s good for us, what’s not, what do we value, what we are willing to compromise – and the outcome.

Ah, the outcome is like a fairytale. And like watching any fairytale, I leave with a smile and return to my real world.

I AM capable of distinguishing which is which.

 

– FlorenceT

Florence 2

@FTThum

MeaningsAndMusings.WordPress.Com

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© Copyright-All rights reserved by ronovanwrites.wordpress.com 2015

One decision can be a life changer: Book Review of The Convenience of Lies by @KCastilloBooks

Title: The Convenience of Lies
Author: Kimberly Castillo
ISBN-13: 978-9527114476
ISBN-10: 9527114470
Website:  http://www.kacastillo.blogspot.com/
Pages: 242
Genre: Young Adult (YA) Romance/Suspense/Drama

It’s 2013 and Mackenzie begins a letter to her old friend Kira. It’s 10 years after the events that changed their lives. The book then begins with new girl in town, Mackenzie and local girl, Kira as best friends forever, and then there is Ramon, a crush and ex-boyfriend in a small California town. The three send us on a trip of real teen life and feelings mixed with some unexpected surprises along the way with a group of vandals and thieves thrown in who make their attacks personal. Who has it in for these three friends?  This story is told in an authentic teenage voice as Mackenzie Fairbanks recalls that particular summer before her senior year in high school.

The book flows well taking the reader  from one chapter to the next. It is an absorbing  read, well written not only in story but in structure and grammar as well. The author conveys vivid emotions and dialogue throughout the book, with captivating prose for example, scenes describing a character’s intoxication and the resulting actions that are spot on. I like the fact you don’t notice the writing. You are in the story and there are no odd moments where you wonder what is that word doing there.

The emotional content within the book is realistic and appropriate as scenes transition well.  The emotional jolt near the end is handled exactly right, as one would expect such a situation to be in real life. The emotional moments throughout the book are presented in an amazingly genuine teen/coming of age point of view.

The story keeps ones attention and you want to see what happens and to whom.

Was I surprised by events in the book? Not entirely as the author provided sufficient clues for the discerning reader to figure things out.

Just to let those who might purchase this as a gift without reading it first, there is some profanity used, but we are talking about teens. Some teens of certain environments grow up using certain language while others do it to be cool. I believe the author handled this well as she doesn’t have every character do it, an excellent job in my opinion. And to be honest, if there hadn’t been any profanity it would not have been an authentic book.

You are inside the main characters head a lot, but that’s to be expected in the type of story being told. This is a diary type of story. The only time I really had any problems with it was in the very beginning where things were being set up for us to know what is going on. Once past that first chapter or two of setting things up, the story takes off and you are ready to go.

Reading The Convenience of Lies shows you what is possible inside the life of teens. And I do mean what is truly possible. Having been a teacher and youth pastor I know what can happen. The reader will identify or recognize the struggles teenagers encounter in their world, how they perceive themselves, and that lessons have to be learned in their own time no matter how painful they may be or who they may hurt. Do you lose a best friend, a crush, a dream?

Read The Convenience of Lies by Kimberly Castillo and experience a slice of teenagers’ world through what happens to Mackenzie and her friends.

The elements about where McKenzie is as an adult and how she got to that point are things you need to think about as you read the book. The Convenience of Lies is more than you think if  you know what to look for going in.

If I were to categorize the book it would be difficult to say. Young Adult? Yes. Marital Issues? Yes. Although not a category. Domestic Abuse? Yes. That can be defined in many different ways so don’t jump to a conclusion there.

Ratings:

Realistic Characterization: 5K.A. Castillo/5

Made Me Think: 3.5/5

Overall enjoyment: 3.5/5

Readability: 4/5

Recommended: 4/5

Ovearall Rating: 4

Buy it at: Amazon

Format & Pricing:

Paperback: 10.46 USD

Kindle: 2.99 USD

Author Kimberly Castillo

kimberly_castillo_author.jpgFollow on Twitter

 

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