Book Review: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

milk

Genre: Poetry

Year Published: 2014

My Rating:★★★★☆

This collection of poetry has sky-rocketed in the past year. So, as a person who is an avid reader of poetry and is open to trying the most obscure poets as well as the most popular, I decided to pick up this collection to see what it was all about.

The first thing I noticed was the style in which it is written. The style is very short, free-verse poetry that tends to have one or two very impactful lines within the poem. For example, here is one of the poems from the collection that I particularly liked:

your name is
the strongest
positive and negative
connotation in any language
it lights me up or
leaves me aching for days

-rupi kaur

Now, many people (more specifically, avid poetry readers, especially those who pride themselves on reading the greatest names in poetry) would say this is not poetry. That it’s ‘hipster’ poetry for teenage girls.

I, as a reader of all types of poetry, having studied poetry as an English major at the previous university I attended as well as one I attended abroad (which was one of the top in the UK) strongly disagree with this. I have read the greats and have appreciated them just as much as I appreciated this collection of poetry.

Why?

Because unlike poets such as Yeats, Dickinson, Whitman, Frost, and Keats, this collection by Rupi Kaur is, in a word, accessible.

It is accessible to ALL readers and allows readers who are not as familiar with poetry to read and enjoy this. It opens up a whole new world of reading to them, and maybe somewhere down the line in their new journey of poetry reading they will reach the greats and appreciate them as well.

Moving on from the above discussion, I would like to discuss why I enjoyed the content of this collection.

Kaur has an innate talent of packing a big punch in very short poems. This is not an easy feat. To find the words, and so very few at that, that will make a person look up from the book and think “Wow. This is incredibly true and incredibly raw,” is a huge accomplishment. Not only that, but the author tackles subjects that are very touchy, such as rape. She does it in such a way that makes you want to stand up and join all of those women that were marching this past weekend and protect those who have gone through such horrendous, disgusting ordeals (women and men alike). Her poetry is empowering and puts a lot of thoughts and feelings thousands of people have stuck inside their heads onto paper for all to read and all to understand.

All of this is not to say that this is a perfect collection of poetry. There were some poems that didn’t hit home as much as they were intended to. There were some that could have been left out of the book and not have downgraded the collection by any means. However, that being said, I did still enjoy reading every poem in this collection.

The main reason I enjoyed this was because it did something for me, and I’m sure for many other avid poetry readers, that no other collection has done before: it has opened poetry up to the world again. It has made poetry more popular, and it has made poetry a genre that more people are seeking out. For that, I am grateful for this collection.

Find this book elsewhere: Goodreads Amazon Book Depository

Book Review: Whiskey Words & a Shovel II by r.h. Sin

whiskey.jpg

Genre: Poetry

Year Published: 2016

My Rating:★☆☆☆☆

This review is a short one, folks. You’ll see why as you read on.

This poetry collection, which I was SO excited for, was way over-hyped. I found it to have the following things, and more, that really irked me to the point of no return: preach-y to women (when the author is a man), likes to romanticize depression and the aftermath of abusive relationships, compares a woman’s sex to a winter jacket, continously says he’s a better man than any other man the women he’s speaking to has been with, and is filled to the brim with over-used themes and contantly eye-rolling cliches.

OH and out of the 150+ poems in here? I only liked 5 or 6 of them. OUT OF OVER 150 poems. Man. I definitely don’t think I’ll be reading any more of this author’s work, which makes me upset because I was looking forward to enjoying his work. Alas, no cigar. Hopefully I’ll be diving into some better poetry soon.

Alright, that’s enough griping of this book. I think I’m just going to leave this review at that.

Find this book elsewhere: Goodreads Amazon Book Depository

Graphic Novel Review: Bitch Planet Vol. 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick and co.

bitch

Genre: Dystopian, Science Fiction

Year Published: 2015

My Rating:★★★★☆

I loved this first volume in this new graphic novel (or comic? I’m still not sure about these labels) series. It takes place in a world where patriarchy rules all…and you may think, wait. Isn’t that the world we already live in?

Yes.

And no.

Because this graphic novel takes place in a world where patriarchy is in the EXTREME. Women who have been “disobedient” or have presented any traits that may go against the male-vision of what they consider to be a perfect woman are sent to what is called “Bitch Planet”. It is LITERALLY a whole planet dedicated to keeping the women they deem disobedient off of planet Earth.

I seriously hope that this is not the future of Earth because although it makes for an interesting read, I would not want this to happen in real life (as I’m sure every other woman wouldn’t want it happening as well).

I don’t want to go too much into the plot, but I will say that it is thought-provoking, funny, and at times, even heart-breaking. We, in an Orange is the New Black type of style, get to know individual inmates on Bitch Planet and how they will play a role in the overall story arc. We also get to see the society of this futuristic universe and how men control every aspect of it, which was pretty sickening.

Overall I really enjoyed this first volume. The art is fantastic and the story is intriguing as well. I can’t wait to read the next volume coming out at the end of this month.

Find this book elsewhere: Goodreads Amazon Book Depository

Book Review: The Cresswell Plot by Eliza Wass

cresswell

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Year Published: 2016

My Rating: ★★★1/2☆

I went into this book not knowing much about it. I thought it had something to do with some sort of buried secret, and in a way, it did. However, it wasn’t the secret at the end of the novel that was revealed that really made this an interesting read for me. What made it interesting was the uniqueness of it. I have never come across a family, in reality or in fiction, as disturbing as that of the Cresswell’s. More specifically, the father of the family. The fact that it was so disturbing really lifted the rating of this book for me, because I have not come across a book in my lifetime that has done so.

I admired our main character/narrator and her role in breaking her family out of the religious cult that her father built for the family, but in the end I think she was just a means to an end. I wish she was a little more rounded as a person. For example, we could have had her explain when the questioning of her family’s ways began; if it started early on, or if only just now the thoughts began to creep into her head. That way, we see some sort of development into the person she becomes: someone who has become openly defiant of her father and the control he has over them.

In the end I would have to give this book a 3.5/5 stars. This is because I felt as though it had the potential of being much longer, allowing the reader to get to know the characters more and what their lives have been like. Also, some of the characters seemed ambiguous in their beliefs, especially the main character’s siblings. They would defy their father, but then they would go back to submitting themselves to his will. There wasn’t much consistency there. Otherwise, I thought this was a very thrilling and different read. I would not, however, recommend this to certain people, as religion can be a touchy subject, despite the fact that it was portrayed in such a radical way that it wouldn’t usually offend anyone. However, in the end, I felt as though things were handled quite well and it was a solid read.

Find this book elsewhere: Goodreads Amazon Book Depository

Book Review: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

vengeance

Genre: Young Adult, Western

Year Published: 2015

My Rating:★★★★☆

I received an advanced readers copy of this novel courtesy of the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review.

A young adult Western novel, Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman follows 18 year old Kate Thompson in 1877 Arizona. Seeking revenge for her father’s murder, Kate goes on a journey and picks up some friends along the way that help her take revenge on her father’s death. Along the way, Kate and her companions encounter love, friendships, and a shoot-out or two, all the while uncovering secrets about the Thompson family past

This was my first Western novel, let alone my first young adult Western novel. As far as I know, there aren’t that many like it on the market. Western doesn’t seem to be a popular genre in the young adult medium, but I think Erin Bowman has done quite a good job in introducing this genre to a younger, yet still mature, audience.

Kate is a very strong and willful character. I was especially surprised of her resilience after her father was murdered and how she immediately knew what she wanted to do: go after the men that killed him. I really appreciated her in that way, and I wish I could be as strong a person as she is. I do wish that her world was built a little bit more before the story of her journey to avenger her father began. The story pretty much jumps right into it, and although her life before her father’s death is alluded to throughout the novel, I still wish there was a little bit more background to her and her family before the main events of the book began.

All of the other characters in the novel—Jesse, Will, Liluye, etc.—were enjoyable and each of them served their plot purposes quite well. I wish I could have seen a little bit more of Liluye, as she was quite intriguing, but at the same time I am content with the amount of presence and importance she held in the novel. Jesse and Will were a pleasure to read, and I believe that everything that happens to them is tastefully done and there is no overkill in their individual fates.

I did see the plotwist at the end of the novel coming just a few paragraphs before it happened, and to be honest I could have done without it, but it was still an interesting twist. Overall, Vengeance Road was quite enjoyable and I am glad it was my first Western. If you are interested in young adult and are looking for something to introduce you into the world of Western, Vengeance Road will introduce it to you quite well!

Find this book elsewhere: Goodreads Amazon Book Depository

Book Review: Solitaire by Alice Oseman

solitaire

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Year Published: 2014

My Rating: ★★★★★

Brief Summary: Teenager Tori Spring has always felt somewhat outside of her friends. She likes to blog and she likes to sleep. One day, two things appear in her life that change all of that. The first is Solitaire, and the second is Michael Holden. The cover does not lie; this is not a love story. Tori faces battles at home, at school, with her friends, with Michael Holden, and most importantly, with herself. Solitaire is a coming of age novel that explores the type of teenage years that many teens today experience; something that people who are older may not understand.

Review: I really enjoyed Alice Oseman’s writing in this novel. It was simple and to the point. I really felt as though I was inside Tori’s head the whole time. I had a very clear understanding of who she was as a person: cynical and pessimistic, yet not entirely helpless in either of these areas. The plot also came from someone that was near the age group of the main characters in the novel, which made it more credible. Often adults are writing novels about teenagers and thus cannot be 100% accurate about how teenagers act today, but because of Oseman’s young age, the writing and the story was absolutely believable.

The characters were fantastic as well. Each of the main characters—Tori, Michael, Becky, and Charlie—were deeply developed. We learned each person had their own fatal flaw and we observed those flaws through Tori’s eyes, and along the way, Tori began to see her own by means of observing others. She was very self-aware of her personality. As the novel progressed you could see her deteriorate mentally, and in the end, the beginning of her revival. How she came to that endpoint, I will not go into, but the book is definitely worth the read to find out how this develops between Tori and her friends.

Find this book elsewhere: Goodreads Amazon Book Depository

Book Review: Torn by Avery Hastings

torn

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian

Year Published: 2015

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

I received an advanced reader copy of this novel courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Torn, the second novel in what I assume to be The Feuds duology, wrapped up these two novels quite nicely. Seeing the two main characters, Davis and Cole, separated from one another and put in situations in which they must rely on themselves, for each other’s sake, was very interesting to see and definitely built the characters as participants in their dystopian world.

Although the writing was not particularly great, the story was still conveyed well. Everything was clear and each character was easily differentiated. That being said, I felt as though perhaps the characters were too predictable, and at times cliche. I still find it a little hard to believe that Cole and Davis are devastatingly in love, because their interactions with one another were not carried out over long periods of time and developed as such, at least to the reader’s knowledge.

Everything seemed to work out quite easily for all of the characters as well…too easily. I would have liked to see the characters encounter and deal with more conflict, rather than just constantly worry that they will run into some sort of conflict, but never really end up doing so. The one bit of conflict that I enjoyed and did not expect was at the end when Cole made it through the ropes after what had happened to Landon.

Everyone had a happy ending, and I actually enjoyed that. If someone had died, or if something particularly horrible had happened to one of the characters, it probably would have felt forced. Luckily, that was not the case, and besides what I have mentioned above, the two books were wrapped up pretty decently.

Find this book elsewhere: Goodreads Amazon Book Depository