Mini Review: Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: August 30, 2018
Source: Borrowed

A short, powerful, illustrated book written by Khaled Hosseini in response to the current refugee crisis, Sea Prayer is composed in the form of a letter, from a father to his son, on the eve of their journey. Watching over his sleeping son, the father reflects on the dangerous sea-crossing that lies before them. It is also a vivid portrait of their life in Homs, Syria, before the war, and of that city’s swift transformation from a home into a deadly war zone. 

Impelled to write this story by the haunting image of young Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed upon the beach in Turkey in September 2015, Hosseini hopes to pay tribute to the millions of families, like Kurdi’s, who have been splintered and forced from home by war and persecution, and he will donate author proceeds from this book to the UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) and The Khaled Hosseini Foundation to help fund lifesaving relief efforts to help refugees around the globe. Hosseini is also a Goodwill Envoy to the UNHCR, and the founder of The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, a nonprofit that provides humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.

I have heard it said we are the uninvited.
We are the unwelcome.
We should take our misfortune elsewhere. 
But I hear your mother’s voice,
over the tide.
and she whispers in my ear,
“Oh, but if they saw, my darling.
Even half of what you have.
If only they saw.
They would say kinder things, surely.”

This is going to be a very short review because this is a very short book. I read it in just a few minutes, but it left an impression. This little book is a prayer from a father for his son and, oh my, it really made me feel things. It’s only 48 pages long, but by the time I finished, I wanted to cry.

This is the first work I’ve read by Hosseini and now I can’t even imagine why. If he was able to break my heart in 48 pages, I can’t imagine what he can do with a full-length novel.

#mm19: diversify your reading
#ps19: a book written by an author from Asia, Africa, or South America


Have you read Sea Prayer? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 24, 2017
Source: Borrowed

1 hour, 43 minutes

An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.

Told in short, fierce staccato narrative verse, Long Way Down is a fast and furious, dazzlingly brilliant look at teenage gun violence, as could only be told by Jason Reynolds. 

This is going to be a very short review, mostly because this is a very short book and I don’t have much to say. I finished this in one sitting but can’t help wonder if I missed something because I’ve seen so many rave reviews of this book on Goodreads and other blogs and I just… didn’t feel much of anything for it.

Objectively, I can tell you that the book is well-written. It’s a timely book about an important topic. It’s a very fast read. There’s nothing actually wrong with it, at least as far as I can tell. But it’s been a few weeks since I finished it and I still have no idea what to say about it. It’s pretty rare that I finish a book and can’t come up with one single opinion on it, but that’s what happened here.

Three stars because I don’t know how else to rate something that I have no strong feelings about.

#mm19: one sitting reads


Have you read Long Way Down? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book review: The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Vol. 3 by Joseph Gordon-Levitt

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Vol. 3 by Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • GoodreadsTBD
Publication Date: November 5, 2013
Source: Borrowed

From Golden Globe Award–nominee Joseph Gordon-Levitt and his online creative coalition hitRECord, and in collaboration with the artist Wirrow, comes Volume 3 in the Tiny Book of Tiny Stories series.

To create The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, known within the hitRECord.org community as RegularJOE, directs thousands of collaborators to tell tiny stories through words and art. With the help of the entire creative collective, he culls, edits, and curates the massive numbers of contributions into a finely tuned collection.

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Volume 3 once again brings together art and voices from around the world to unite and tell stories that defy size.

Sometimes I just like to look through my library’s graphic novel section to see what I can find. I did it a few weeks ago and ended up checking out a ton of graphic novels, plus this tiny little book. I’m not sure that I’d necessarily call it a graphic novel since it doesn’t tell any kind of cohesive story, but it was a cute little book of short poems and tiny stories.

Many of them were relatable, many of them were quirky, and some of them hit me pretty hard emotionally. I’d say, for each one being no more than a sentence or two, that it’s pretty impressive.

For some reason, my library only has the third volume of this collection. I’m hoping, though, to somehow find the other two. ❤


Have you read any of the Tiny Books of Tiny StoriesLet’s talk in the comments!


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Book review: The King of FU by Benjamin Davis

The King of FU by Benjamin Davis
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: May 25, 2018
Source: Free copy from author

The King of FU is a magically realistic poetic memoir about growing up in America in the nineties on the cusp of the age of the internet. It is a voyage that navigates through family tribalism, supervisors, white-gloved Sheriffs, bullies, sex, suicide, dead prisoners, drugs, porn, middle school, and Jesus; all in search of answering one of life’s greatest mysteries: what is the point of adults? This artistic masterpiece comes from the mind of author Benjamin Davis with illustrations by Russian artist Nikita Klimov.

I always feel a little bit weird when I review poetry, because who am I to say whether it’s good or not? And especially this kind of poetry, which focuses on the author’s childhood and his experiences as he grew up in the 90s. That said, I’m going to try to put my thoughts about this book into words.

As a 90s kid myself, I was pretty excited when Ben emailed me to ask if I’d like to review his book. I was even more excited when an actual physical copy showed up in my mailbox, because when do I get actual physical copies? Never. I love the cover of this book, I love the little postcard that came with it, and I love the whole idea of this book.

Let me tell you, I read this in one sitting and I laughed all the way from the first page to the last. It was only after I finished that I realized that a lot of what I’d just read was actually very sad. But even with that, I really enjoyed this book! Given the opportunity, I can get really into magical realism, and I loved the combination of Ben’s writing and Nikita Klimov’s illustrations.

Thank you again to the author for mailing me a copy!


Have you read The King of FU? Do you like to read poetry or memoirs?
Let’s talk in the comments!


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Book review: Burn the Fairy Tales by Adeline Whitmore

Burn the Fairy Tales by Adeline Whitmore
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: July 29, 2017
Source: Borrowed
Kill the prince. Give the princess a sword. Send her into battle. Watch her win. This poetry book is a work of feminist self-empowerment for women and of understanding for men. It deals with love, loss, self discovery, self love, grief, and inspiration.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I went from reading no poetry over the course of my life to reading a ton of poetry in 2018. I’m not sure what happened, really, other than I started using my library a lot more and I have made more bookish friends. Anyway, Gerry recommended that I read this, not in a “wow, I really loved it” way but more in a “hmm, I didn’t like it and I think you won’t like it either but I’d like to hear your thoughts” kind of way. In other words, I was basically advised to hate-read this, and if that’s not my favorite, I don’t know what is. Thank god this was free via the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

Anyway, I decided that the best way to review this collection is to just type whatever comes to mind while reading, so here you go. My more-or-less linear thoughts while reading Burn the Fairy Tales.

Some sections of some poems are okay:

you
were whole before him

you
are still whole without him

do not
define yourself by him

define yourself by yourself

whole

But also some have grammatical errors and holy hell, if that doesn’t drive me crazy:

[…]

let me peak
into the depths of your soul

[…]

depths

(A “peak” is a high point, like the top of a mountain. A “peek” is a glimpse, a look, a view.)

Some non-poems (remember, sentences with line breaks aren’t poetry):

if a man
has sex
with a woman who is

unconscious
drugged
drunk
or doesn’t
actively consent

it’s rape
end of story

— sex part 2

(I appreciate the sentiment but this is a sentence, not a poem.)

if he apologizes but doesn’t change the apology
means nothing

— sorry

Again, this is true, but it’s literally just a sentence with one line break, I don’t understand how this is poetry.

every
tiny detail about you
is beautiful

— beautiful

And yet again, this is just! a! sentence! with! line! breaks!

And now I feel really awkward because I am hating this book and I just got to this poem:

i don’t want
to keep putting in hours for someone else

i want
this book
to sell well
and i want
to live my life
in financial freedom

so please
post about this book tell your friends leave reviews

this
is my future on the line

and it
is in
your hands

— independent

😬😬😬

Another non-poem:

not everything you lose is a loss

— loss

(This one doesn’t even have a line break??)

Oh, it’s done. I mean, I’m not like a poetry connoisseur or anything, but I feel like this wasn’t good. It’s also really weirdly formatted, which shouldn’t really figure into my rating, but it does. The title of the next poem was often smashed into the last line of the previous poem, which was just weird and confusing.

It’s definitely got the same vibes as the two collections I read by Amanda Lovelace: it’s a little angrier than the princess saves herself in this one and not quite at the anger level of the witch doesn’t burn in this one. I think Amanda Lovelace’s poetry is more poetic than this, which is mostly just sentences with line breaks.

I’m glad I didn’t pay for this.


Have you read Burn the Fairy Tales
Let’s talk in the comments!


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Book review: Sticky Notes by Indy Yelich

Sticky Notes by Indy Yelich
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • Goodreads
Publication Date: February 14, 2018
Source: Daniel sent this to me because he is the actual best.
‘sticky notes’ is the first book of poetry by emerging poet, indy yelich, who was born to a poet mother and is the sister of pop artist, Lorde. She currently lives independently as a 19 year old in New York City. This debut collection chronicles her experiences with love, travel, and self-discovery in a shifting physical and emotional geography.

If you’ve been following my blog and reading my tags and Weekly Updates, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that I’m a Lorde fan. I listen to her music pretty incessantly, but I didn’t actually know that much about her or her family. I knew that she had a sister, but I honestly never really paid that much attention. Well, now I’ve read Indy’s first poetry collection and I. Am. Conflicted.

Like, okay, there’s one poem. It’s called the kitchen bench and I’m not sure why I relate to it so much, but I do.

[…]

the clock is a prison sentence
all i have left are the memories
that haunt me in my shower

crosslegged
eating cereal

wondering why it tastes
so off

Why does this take me right back to a very specific time in my life? It’s almost creepy how easily it transported me back to approximately 2010 when I was in my first studio apartment and very sad about everything in general.

There are also a couple lines in a poem called hero that I particularly enjoyed:

i think you were placed in the wrong era
because you don’t go outside and you eat books
like sandwiches

Literally me, okay? LITERALLY ME.

But then there are some other poems, or should I say “poems,” that are just sentences with line breaks. One example is central park:

i just want to
sit in the park
a little while longer

That’s it. That’s the poem. I mean, accurate statement, I have literally never been in Central Park without thinking, “oh hey, wouldn’t it be nice to stay here a little bit longer” but here’s a “poem” from me:

sentences
with line breaks
aren’t poetry 🙄

I actually had a lot of thoughts about a lot of poems in this collection, but I think that this will suffice for the review. I mean, I probably shouldn’t copy down every poem in the collection and give my reactions to it. That might be considered, oh, I don’t know, a violation of the copyright or something.

In short:

  • I went into this without any real expectations and walked away feeling pretty conflicted.
  • IT’S NOT TERRIBLE by any means, but it’s also not really amazing.
  • Some of the poems take me right back to how I felt when I was Indy’s age! That’s great and shows a lot of talent!
  • Other poems are just not relatable at all — even as a grown adult working a full-time job, I can’t even come close to affording a studio apartment next to Washington Square.
  • I’m curious about what Indy will write next.

Have you read Sticky Notes? Do you follow Indy on social media?
Let’s talk in the comments!


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Mini-reviews: The Princess Saves Herself In This One & The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One by Amanda Lovelace

The Princess Saves Herself In This One by Amanda Lovelace
Series: Women Are Some Kind of Magic #1
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: August 23, 2016
Source: Borrowed

“Ah, life- the thing that happens to us while we’re off somewhere else blowing on dandelions & wishing ourselves into the pages of our favorite fairy tales.”

A poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, & you. the princess, the damsel, & the queen piece together the life of the author in three stages, while you serves as a note to the reader & all of humankind. Explores life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations.

I liked this collection so much more than I expected to! One of the criticisms I had of the last collection of poetry I read (which was written in a similar style) was that it didn’t stab me in the heart. It didn’t really make me feel anything. This collection definitely stabbed me in the heart, but it also made me really happy.

You shine brighter than all the starlight there has ever been or ever will be.


The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One by Amanda Lovelace
Series: Women Are Some Kind of Magic #2
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Source: Borrowed

2016 Goodreads Choice Award-winning poet Amanda Lovelace returns in the witch doesn’t burn in this one — the bold second book in her “women are some kind of magic” series.

The witch: supernaturally powerful, inscrutably independent, and now—indestructible. These moving, relatable poems encourage resilience and embolden women to take control of their own stories. Enemies try to judge, oppress, and marginalize her, but the witch doesn’t burn in this one.

Unpopular opinion: I did not like this collection at all. The Princess felt real and natural and honest, but The Witch was just exhausting. There’s so much anger, so much hate, so many generalizations that I was just sad and tired when I finished it. I 100% consider myself a feminist and I don’t think that this collection represents my values at all.

Wanting to burn men instead of women at the stake isn’t feminism, and it just fuels the anti-feminist fires that are, quite honestly, already strong enough.


Have you read either of these books? Are you planning to?
Let’s talk in the comments!


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