Tag Archives: March 2020

March 2020: "Ambrosia" by Madison Wheatley

Summary (Caution Mild Spoilers):

Crystal lived through hell and emotionally, she’s still there. She views herself as overweight, worthless, and unloved. She blames herself for everything that happened in her past. She fantasizes about an exercise addiction to take her mind off of everything she wants to forget and she’s been trying to do that with her inexpensive gym membership.

On the anniversary of one of the worst things that happened, she loses it with a customer. On a forced one-week vacation, she gets the opportunity to try the hottest new gym in Little Rock, Arkansas: Mount Olympus.

Mount Olympus isn’t the same as other gyms. The members never leave. Is this the addiction that Crystal wants to forget her problems, or will she discover that there’s a more healing path than selling her soul to a gym membership?

Overall Response:

“Ambrosia” is the best Modern Southern Gothic novel I’ve read this year. It took me a long time to decide if I would call “Ambrosia” Modern Southern Gothic because I recognize the level of controversy associated with that genre. By Study.com’s definitionSouthern Gothic literature is a genre of Southern writing. The stories often focus on grotesque themes. While it may include supernatural elements, it mainly focuses on damaged, even delusional, characters.” Based on this definition, and my own understanding of the genre, “Ambrosia” qualifies in the most flattering ways possible.

If you like elements of Gillian Flynn’s stories or if you enjoy the writing style of “Bonfire” by Krysten Ritter, you will like this book. Wheatley brings a little more dark humor thrown at gym culture and if you need the catharsis of a good reason to not be at the gym during a global pandemic, then you need to buy this book now.

Crystal’s story is captivating for anyone that has had a gym membership and blends dark humor with serious topics such as drug addiction, trauma, miscarriage, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and family disownment. Easy to connect with, the reader resides inside of Crystal’s head seeing her epiphanies and delusions as they happen.

The pacing of the book is fantastic as well. While being a fulfilling read, it is paced very well to be finished in a single evening or two. This is perfect for those looking for a great read without lengthy commitment.

There are elements of the story that are culturally relevant beyond the locker room and emotional gym baggage. The author references drug abuse that was happening in the fitness culture of the United States. I give a lot of praise to the author for putting enough research into her story to make sure everything checked out before the supernatural elements are introduced.

As a fun aside, there is a passage that has been quoted saying that the author predicted the current pandemic. I’ll leave that as a fun Easter Egg for y’all to find (seasonally appropriate, right?).

LGBTQA:

This book does not contain overtly LGBTQA+ characters, but I think this book is valuable to the LGBTQA+ community (and every other community) because of the content discussed.

Grammar+:

This book is extremely close to meeting the 1 error per 10,000-word editorial standard. The few errors I found did not interrupt the reading experience.

Learn More About The Author:

Madison Wheatley is a poet and fiction author. You can visit her Twitter here or her author website here. This book was published through Authors 4 Authors Publishing and based on this book I would encourage others to look into their services. To purchase a copy of this book, you can do so via Amazon here.

Poverty And Coronavirus: How Bad Could It Get?

Source: https://www.census.gov/library/visualizations/interactive/2014-2018-poverty-rate-by-county.html#

Let’s talk about poverty and how it plays a role in pandemics (specifically covid-19 and the current state of things in the US).

First, to get this out of the way ,

Poverty does not mean someone is…
dirty
diseased
uneducated
deserving of their position
being punished
has made mistakes
is suffering consequences
or any of that B.S.

Now that that’s out of the way. Let’s move on.

Source: It’s a zoomed in version of the map above, y’all. I’m from the Chesapeake Bay and you can see West Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky at high risk just by consideration of poverty.

Impoverished areas tend to have worse health care with low availability than areas of higher average income. And it has only gotten worse over the past 4 years. This means that in these areas everyone is of a much higher risk category when it comes to having community impact from covid-19. There are a couple factors playing into this, but let’s start with the accessibility question.

Closure of Rural Hospitals

Rural hospitals often serve impoverished areas. Because healthcare in the United States is privatized it is not secure. Based on whether or not a larger medical network parent hospital corporation thinks a hospital is profitable, a hospital can be closed down. This is not a new problem. It’s been going on for the past decade, quietly, while everyone else focused on all of the other aspects of healthcare. Except for rural communities where we banded together and started figuring out Ag worker clinics and other ways to cover vitals needs. But guess what: that can’t do crap against the coronavirus.

Since coronavirus entered the United States, West Virginia saw the closure of Fairmont Regional Medical Center at the hands of California owned Alecto Healthcare Services. Other hospitals across the United States are closing and laying off workers to reduce costs and shift resources within these greater hospital networks, like Alecto Healthcare Services. This reduces the resources available to impoverished or communities that might not make these networks as much money. Another example is Missoula, Montana where Western Montana Clinic laid employees ahead coronavirus in a similar way.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-01-09/hospital-bankruptcies-leave-sick-and-injured-nowhere-to-go

Bloomberg reported back in January that hospital closures were becoming a concern prior to the coronavirus hitting the United States media’s attention. The article references hospital networks taking these actions as a means of weeding out “weaker facilities”.

“Some of the more recent closings are the result of large health systems weeding out weaker facilities. That’s the case with hospitals run by Community Health Systems Inc. and its spin-off, Quorum Health Corp.

All of the areas where these hospitals once were are at much higher risk of having their remaining healthcare systems overwhelmed.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-01-09/hospital-bankruptcies-leave-sick-and-injured-nowhere-to-go

Under the Trump economy, hospitals have suffered immensely as measured by the Polsinelli TrBK Health Care Services Distress Index (tracks bankruptcy filings in health-care). Not only has this president set our healthcare system up to fail during his entire time in office, he is now trying to deny all responsibility. I don’t identify with a political party in the United States, but seriously.

Essential Employees

Essential employees include delivery drivers, manufacturing employees, gas station workers, grocery store check out clerks, health care workers, government workers, and all of these low-paid minimum wage jobs. Who makes minimum wage?

Source: https://policy-practice.oxfamamerica.org/work/poverty-in-the-us/us-minimum-wage-map/ Darker areas of map represents the concentration of workers being paid under $10.10/hr.

Many of the essential employees that are still going to work are the same ones making minimum wage. They are also the ones living in low income areas where healthcare is suboptimal, easily overwhelmed, and is far away. Assuming they can afford it at all.

Notice something that will make your heart break? Where did all of the hospitals close?

Update: as of 31 March 2020

Source: https://coronavirus.1point3acres.com/en (8:49 PM MST) – Where’s all of Oklahoma’s testing?

I’m not a religious person, but I ask if you read this to pray for those communities. This is where flattening the curve is both most important and least likely to happen. For further reading on how the US is doing with that check out this post here.

Happy to update this and answer questions, plus dress this up with additional research.

Thank you for reading – without you these would just be shouts into the ether.

Upcoming Reviews: March 2020

Welcome to March 2020! It’s been a crazy year so far and I want to announce the books you can look forward to (though I’m still working through January and February 2020’s reviews).

Death Doll” By Brian P White (Live Tweet Review Coming Soon; Full Review Coming Soon)
Apex Five” by Sarah Katz (Different from the previous Sarah Katz) (Live Tweet Review Coming Soon; Full Review Coming Soon)
First Magyc: Guardians of the Path” by Nicole DragonBeck (Live Tweet Review Coming Soon; Full Review Coming Soon)
Ambrosia” by Madison Wheatley (Live Tweet Review; Full Review Coming Soon)

I may be posting with more irregularity than I would prefer to try and make up for the backlog from the series of setbacks earlier this year. I have suspended author interviews, but hope to resume these again soon. Please continue to send me your books for upcoming review. I genuinely love falling into every author’s unique story they create.

If you are interested in submitting your book for future review please check out the schedule of themed/open-themed months here.

Requirements for submission:

  • Print Edition Must Be Available (preferably paperback)
  • Under $20 (USD) – I buy your book like everyone else!
  • Not Erotica or “The Serbian Film” Level Gore/Sex/Violence – for more details check here.

You can send me an e-mail with the subject line: Only a Hippopotamus Will Do (e-mails not including this subject will be ignored)

In this e-mail include:

  • a link to where I can purchase your book.
  • a brief introduction to yourself
  • a link to your Twitter and/or personal website (if applicable).

IF you are interested in sending me a copy of your book, please send me an e-mail with the subject line: The Buffalo Seem Fine to Me