Book review: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

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If you pay any sort of attention to feminism these days, it’s pretty hard to escape Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey. It’s all over Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Goodreads… you name it, it’s there.  Everyone I know that’s read it has rated it five stars.  I don’t think there’s another book in existence that can make that claim.  I was expecting to be blown away.

And it was good.  I listened to it as an audiobook narrated by the author.  She puts a lot of emotion into her reading, and some of her poems hit me directly in the heart. To fathers with daughters, in particular, wrenched my heart out of my chest:

every time you
tell your daughter
you yell at her
out of love
you teach her to confuse
anger with kindness
which seems like a good idea
till she grows up to
trust men who hurt her
cause they look so much
like you

I mean… I’m not sure I’ve ever read something that’s resonated with me more than that short passage.  There were a lot of poems in this book that made me feel things.  In general, I’m not a huge fan of poetry, and I often fail to react to it the way that I’m supposed to.  That’s not the case here, where I definitely reacted to what I was hearing.

The only thing that stopped me from giving this book a full five stars is that I just expected… more.  Seeing that row of consistent five-star ratings given by people I trust and admire made me think that I would be rendered speechless by the sheer emotion of the book.  And I was, for some pages, at least.  Others, not so much.

I think Rupi Kaur is most certainly an author to watch, and if you have an interest in feminism, you really can’t go wrong with this short book of poetry.

Final rating: ★★★★☆

#mmdreading: a book recommended by someone with great taste

Let’s talk about: Unfinished series

I follow Book Riot on Feedly, and fairly recently they had a post called “To the Series I Haven’t Finished.” This post is all about the reasons the author has for not finishing series – maybe she doesn’t want it to end, or maybe she was satisfied with the last book she read and can’t imagine how the author would continue the plot.

I thought this was a really interesting idea for a blog post since there are a ton of series that I’ve started and not finished.  Here are just a few books that come to mind when I think of unfinished series.

There are the ones that I just haven’t found time to finish:

The ones that I fell out of love with:

The ones I never really fell in love with:

And the ones I’m afraid to read because my hopes are so high:

Are there any series that you’ve stopped reading midway through?

Book review: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

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From the publisher:

Jennifer Egan’s spellbinding interlocking narratives circle the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other’s pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa.

The first chapter is good.  A bit… fluffier and more explicit, maybe, than I would expect from a Pulitzer winner, but good.  The problem is that what makes the book stand out – its many characters – also makes it difficult to care about.  I got all invested in Sasha’s story, and then we never heard from her again.  I got invested in Dolly’s story, and then we never heard from her again.  I got invested in Stephanie’s story, and then we never heard from her again.  Do you see where I’m going with this?  Egan gives us just enough to start to care about the characters, but there’s never any closure.

I was about ready to DNF after the third character change in three chapters.  And not only does the character change, but so does the writing style.  Everybody has a different voice, which is impressive and also excessive because we have chapters written in first, second, and third person, as well as present and past tense.  Heck, there’s even a chapter that solely consists of a PowerPoint presentation.  Not only that, but the time between chapters could span decades – and then we’d hop right back in the past.

This was another thing that frustrated me.  I can handle character jumps and time period jumps, but at least tell me what’s going on.  What’s so difficult about starting a chapter with the heading “BENNIE SALAZAR, 1983″ – or something similar.  At least I’d have some idea of what’s going on.  I wish the relationship between all of the characters had been better stated, as well. Some connections were clear, a daughter or friend that was mentioned in a previous chapter.  Others were tangential at best, and after finishing, I still have no idea what I read.

The book does start to pick up around the halfway mark, or maybe that’s just when I decided to power through and finish.  I’d been reading for three days and it was three days too many, so I just sat myself down and read straight through until I finished.

This book tried so hard to be clever, but it just didn’t do it for me.  It exemplifies everything that I hate about literary fiction: the lack of plot, the sweeping statements that are supposed to be thought-provoking but just fall flat, the random analogies, and the unlikeable characters.  This is so far from other Pulitzer winners that I’ve read that I just have to wonder what the committee was thinking when they chose this over the thousands of other books published in 2010.

Final rating: ★★☆☆☆

#mmdreading: a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that are set in high school

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!  This week’s theme is a back to school freebie, so I decided to go with ten books that are set in high school.  Have you ever noticed that even when characters are of high school age, we don’t really see them in their natural environment? Books often take place over the summer or on the weekend, or the actual high school experience is just glossed over.  In these ten books, the school itself plays a big role.

The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre
Operation Prom Date by Cindi Madsen
Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Cherry by Lindsey Rosin
Falling For Forever by Melissa Chambers

Joyride by Anna Banks
The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson
What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

What are your favorite books set in high school?

Book review: Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham

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In Lauren Graham’s memoir, Talking As Fast As I Can, she discusses her childhood, her early career, her big jobs over the years, and her side forays into other ventures.  With a college degree in English under her belt and her trademark wit, Graham has produced an altogether enjoyable memoir.

It’s no secret that I read mostly fiction.  When I read nonfiction, it’s usually a cookbook (which I’ll usually love) or a memoir (which I’ll usually dislike).  So often, memoirs come across as arrogant or are, quite simply, poorly written. Not so in this case.  Talking As Fast As I Can is not only well-written, with chapters that focus on different aspects of her life but somehow tie neatly together, but it’s also funny and engaging.  I often found myself laughing out loud at Graham’s commentary – sometimes more than once per chapter.

To be honest, the only reason I picked up this particular memoir was for my 2017 reading challenge.  At the moment, I’m little burned out on memoirs.  So many of the memoirs that I’ve read recently have been disappointing – either the writing leaves something to be desired or the book feels like a mess of hastily constructed blog posts.  Anne over at Modern Mrs. Darcy recommended this book as a good choice for the “juicy memoir” prompt.  While I can’t really say it’s juicy, I can say that it’s well-written and well worth your time.

In contrast to a lot of celebrities, Lauren Graham comes across as very down-to-earth.  She doesn’t seem to have let fame go to her head and honestly seems very grateful for the success she’s had in her career.  She comes across like a cool aunt – she has enough years on you to give you solid advice, but she’s still young enough to know what’s going on in the world.  In a world where shock value has become social currency, it’s nice to see a wholesome celebrity memoir.

In the interest of full disclosure, I skipped the last chapter of the book since Graham comes right out and says that it’s full of spoilers for the reboot. Because I’m basically an old lady who’s addicted to her job, I haven’t seen the reboot yet.  If it’s anything like the rest of the book, the closing chapter will be amazing.

This is what I’m looking for when I pick up a celebrity memoir.  I docked a star because there were some parts of the book that felt a little awkward or unnecessary, but overall it was very good.  My favorite part was probably the random photos thrown in throughout the book.  I loved how she’d describe an awkward outfit she wore as a child and then actually include a picture so that we could get the full visual.

I’d like to be friends with Lauren Graham, and now I really want to read her novel, Someday, Someday, Maybe.

Final rating: ★★★★☆

#mmdreading: a juicy memoir