Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Monthly Mantra 2017: May


Things have been going 100mph in my life since April and I haven't had a chance to blog, read, or clear my mind fully until now.  There are so many things that have been going on and now that things are slowing down (though only barely) I finally have a little time to bring my creative side out again.  

I've done a lot of reflecting during those busy weeks and have learned the true feelings and motives of those around me.  The people who I drop everything for don't appreciate the effort it takes and instead choose to speak unkindly and negatively about me to others.  This realization put me in a bad place for a few days until I decided to quit feeling sorry for myself and letting the actions of others affect me so much.  I've decided that those people aren't important to me anymore and I no longer hold them in high regard because they only bring me down.  Though I can't cut them out of my life completely, I can distance myself from them and not let their opinions and actions get to me because I deserve to be treated better than that.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Books Lately: April '17

I've been extremely busy lately with work and haven't had much time to do anything else but read after a long day, so April has been a pretty good book month for me.  Here's what I read:


The Shadow Land, by Elizabeth Kostova
**A copy of this book has been generously provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Description from NetGalley:
"THE SHADOW LAND blends history and the present in a suspenseful journey that spans three generations and reveals the dark secrets of a family’s—and a nation’s—history.

A young American woman, Alexandra Boyd, has traveled to Sofia, Bulgaria, hoping that life abroad will salve the wounds left by the loss of her beloved brother. Soon after arriving in this elegant East European city, however, she helps an elderly couple into a taxi — and realises too late that she has accidentally kept one of their bags. Inside she finds an ornately carved wooden box engraved with a name: Stoyan Lazarov. Raising the hinged lid, she discovers that she is holding an urn filled with human ashes.

As Alexandra sets out to locate the family and return this precious item, she gradually uncovers the secrets of a talented musician shattered by oppression —and she will find out all too quickly that this knowledge is fraught with its own danger.

Kostova’s tale of immense scope delves into the horrors of a century and traverses the culture and landscape of this mysterious country. Suspenseful and beautifully written, it explores the power of stories, the pull of the past, and the hope and meaning that can sometimes be found in the aftermath of loss."

The beginning of this book was very slow for me and it took me a while to get into the story because so much time was focused on Alexandra's back story.  Once the story picked up, it was easy for me to get lost in the book because it had a lot of my favorite elements:  history, tragedy, mystery, corruption, and strong ties of friendship.  I especially loved Stoyan Lazarov's story of being sent to work camps and the fact that he suffered it all in silence.  I also really appreciated that the author didn't give away too many hints about the bad guy, which kept me guessing until the very end.


A Spiritual Look at the 12 Signs, an Introduction to Spiritual Astrology, by Joseph Polansky
**A copy of this book has been generously provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Description from NetGalley:
"A spiritual perspective on the 12 signs of the zodiac, the horoscope, healing and spirituality. People's quirks and idiosyncrasies have deep spiritual roots. The horoscope shows us what they are. What are seen as flaws are really strengths deeply disguised or not used properly. Every sign is in essence a spiritual force and function and denotes a person's deepest urges. This book explains these urges. It also contains meditations for each of the signs, and the herbs, colors, gems and reflexology points that will most benefit each sign. There are chapters on the unique spiritual path for each sign and the healing modalities that are best for each - and much more."

I used to be into Astrology, tarot cards, palm reading, etc. back in high school (who wasn't, right?) so this book really took me back and allowed me to tap into my spiritual side and get a new perspective on the different areas of my life as well as the lives of others.  Some parts of the book were repetitive, but at the same time, I can see how the author needed to reiterate certain things because some people tend to pick up books like these and only read the parts about their specific zodiac sign.  I really loved the insight I got from reading through this and am looking forward to learning more.


The Giver, by Lois Lowry

Description from Amazon:
"The Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community."

I'd read this book in elementary school and it was one of those stories that really stuck with me throughout my life.  Finally getting the chance to reread it made me realize just how great of a story it is that it stuck with me for so long.  I've also purchased the follow-up book to it (there are actually 4 books now I think ) and can't wait to dig into that one as well...as soon as I finish reading all the other books I have on my TBR list.


Extracted, by R.R. Haywood
**A copy of this book has been generously provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Description from Amazon:
"In 2061, a young scientist invents a time machine to fix a tragedy in his past. But his good intentions turn catastrophic when an early test reveals something unexpected: the end of the world.

A desperate plan is formed. Recruit three heroes, ordinary humans capable of extraordinary things, and change the future.

Safa Patel is an elite police officer, on duty when Downing Street comes under terrorist attack. As armed men storm through the breach, she dispatches them all.

'Mad' Harry Madden is a legend of the Second World War. Not only did he complete an impossible mission—to plant charges on a heavily defended submarine base—but he also escaped with his life.

Ben Ryder is just an insurance investigator. But as a young man he witnessed a gang assaulting a woman and her child. He went to their rescue, and killed all five.

Can these three heroes, extracted from their timelines at the point of death, save the world?"
 
Oh, this one was good!  I've never been much of a sci-fi fan, but this one really drew me in.  It's basically a story about time travel and the apocalypse and three people are "extracted" from their place in time to save the world before it happens.  I loved getting to know the characters and their backstories but the cliffhanger ending frustrated the hell out of me!  I need to know what happens next!!  I cannot wait until the release of the second book in this trilogy!


The Man In the Lighthouse, by Erik Valeur
**A copy of this book has been generously provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Description from Amazon:
"All his life, Viggo Larssen has been haunted by the same troubling dream, which he calls the Omen—a vision of a woman beckoning to him from the surface of a churning sea. Now, as he broods over his shipwrecked existence in a remote lighthouse off the outermost coast of Denmark, he is about to be borne backward by the current to a past he thought he had escaped forever.

On the Danish mainland, the widowed mother of the nation’s prime minister mysteriously vanishes from her prestigious nursing home. As the police search for clues, evidence mounts that her disappearance is tied to an unsolved crime from Viggo’s childhood. Told through the eyes of multiple characters from Viggo’s old neighborhood, Erik Valeur’s dark, serpentine mystery is a profound meditation on the persistence of memory, the power of dreams, and the secrets we hide from one another—and ourselves."
 
I enjoy stories that are creepy and mysterious but in a subtle, not too over-the-top sort of way and this book was it.  So many characters with different personalities yet each has so many secrets to hide.  The mystery behind the Widow drove me crazy because there were so many suspects it was hard to pin down who was really behind her disappearance and death but I loved it.  I also really loved the Death Omen theory and how the author tied it into this story full of tragedy.  Such a good book that left me wanting to read more about the other characters and their stories.



Whiskey, Words & a Shovel I, by R.H. Sin **A copy of this book has been generously provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Description from Amazon:
"Whiskey, Words, and a Shovel, Vol. 1, is about reclaiming your power on the path to a healthy relationship. It is a testament to choosing to love yourself, even if it means heartbreak.

Originally released in 2015, this re-rerelease packs the same punch as the first version, but makes an even greater connection with the soul of the reader. Each piece has been re-seen and revamped to reflect the author’s continuing journey with his partner, Samantha King, without whom this book would not exist. Samantha is the muse, the “she” the writer speaks of; she is every woman who has felt like she wasn’t good enough, and every woman who struggles to find love."


I had been itching to read this book for months after hearing and seeing so many good things about it.  Being that the first version of this book was listed for at least $100 on Amazon, I was so excited when I found a digital copy of the revised edition on NetGalley.  I enjoyed most of the poems in this book, and though they were quite short and easy to read through, they still stirred emotion in me - which I believe is what poetry should do.  I've been reading a lot more poetry lately, which in turn motivates me to write more so I'm trying to make it a point to read at least one book of poetry each month.
 

Girl in Snow, by Danya Kukafka
 **A copy of this book has been generously provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Description from Amazon:
"When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her sleepy Colorado suburb is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both. In crystalline prose, Danya Kukafka offers a brilliant exploration of identity and of the razor-sharp line between love and obsession, between watching and seeing, between truth and memory."
 
Another great mystery book that kept me on the edge until the very end!  Basically, a teenage girl (blonde, popular, perfect in every way) named Lucinda is found dead on the playground of a small town and nobody knows who killed her.  The story is told from the points of view of three different people:  Cameron (main suspect, peeping Tom, weird kid that has serious issues, aka Lucinda's stalker), Jade (complete opposite of Lucinda, tried to use magic to wish Lucinda would disappear), and Russ (police officer, used to be partners with Cameron's dad).  I loved getting to know all three of the main characters and their roles in the mystery and the ending was such a great twist!  I NEVER would have guessed who the killer was!  Cannot wait to read more from this new author!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Books Lately: March '17

March is usually such a busy month for me that I don't have time to relax at all, let alone read a book.  Thankfully, I was able to finish 4 books, and am just about finished with the book I'm currently reading.   Hopefully, April is a little less chaotic and I have more time for reading!



Red Rising, by Pierce Brown

Description from Amazon:
"Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and lush wilds spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power.  He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies . . . even if it means he has to become one of them to do so."

I had no idea what this book was about before I started reading it.  I read reviews that said it was similar to Hunger Games, but this was much darker than Hunger Games.  The beginning was really confusing trying to imagine the scenes and characters in my mind and then trying to figure out the different color classes (and I'm still confused about most of it) but once you get into the heart of the story and the battle between the houses, it gets a little easier to follow.  I really enjoyed it, much more than I thought I would and I cannot wait to dive into the second book so I can read what happens next!  I can see the similarities between Red Rising and The Hunger Games, but they are also very different.  Same, same...but different. ;-)


Pen Pals, by Martin S. Gore
 **A copy of this book has been generously provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Description from NetGalley:
"Jean Murgatroyd passes away in the northern industrial town of her birth, and her death re-opens old wounds surrounding the ownership of the family business. James Murgatroyd seeks to regain control of Murgatroyd Pens. Brenda Arkwright, the current Managing Director, has worked for the company all of her working life. But Brenda has secrets... 

Events from the her past that are now coming back to haunt her. She passes on a monogrammed fountain pen to her daughter, a present from Jean. Both Jean and Brenda know that there is another identical pen, and that the person now in possession of it holds the future of Murgatroyds in their hands... 

A heart warming family saga based in a Yorkshire town in the strike torn, class ridden seventies."

I really enjoyed the actual story that the author was telling in this book.  However, because of the way it was written, I found myself all sorts of confused and frustrated.  There are SO MANY characters in this book and it goes back and forth between viewpoints within the same chapter which made it harder to figure out what exactly was going on.  The chapters also go back and forth between different eras so I found myself re-reading certain parts over and over to figure out what was going on.


A Collapse of Horses, by Brian Evenson

 **A copy of this book has been generously provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Description from NetGalley:
"A stuffed bear beats with the rhythm of a dead baby’s heart; a crew on a space mission are dying of exposure to alien dust and at the hands of a killer among them; and a town keeps receding to the east as a man travels back to the father who drove him away. 

In these stories, Brian Evenson unsettles us with the everyday and the extraordinary—the terror of living with the knowledge of all we cannot know."


This book of short stories was haunting and creepy and I loved it!  It reminded me of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark which were some of my favorite books when I was a kid.  If you enjoy creepy books that make you think twice about being home alone at night, you'll enjoy this one.

 
Milk & Honey, by Rupi Kaur 

Description from Amazon:
"The book is divided into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose. Deals with a different pain. Heals a different heartache. Milk and Honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look."

I had heard such great things about this book and was so excited to read it, but it kinda fell short of my expectations.  Of the whole book, only a couple poems really stood out to me and evoked the kinds of feelings that I think a poem should.   Very easy read of poetry and prose, didn't take me more than an hour to get through.
 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Monthly Mantra 2017: April

If you haven't figured it out, April's mantra is all about health and fitness.  I was doing pretty good at eating healthy and working out consistently up until my surgery in December.  After my surgery, I allowed my body some time to heal but have been trying to get back into the habit without much success.

This month, I plan to wean myself off the wheat again and start eating small, healthy meals regularly.  I'll also be changing my workout times from lunch to mornings since I've been using my lunches to run errands lately and I don't want that to deter me from reaching my goals.

As far as numbers go, my goal is to run at least 4 miles per week, and workout for at least 30 minutes 3 times per week using my Sweat app.  I'll be weighing myself, but will also be taking photos of myself (yikes!) to document my progress.

And because I like to document things and hold myself accountable to them, I'll be keeping a journal of the things I eat, my runs, workouts, feelings, accomplishments, new goals, etc. to keep myself motivated.

What about you?  Got any health/fitness goals to smash this month?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Mid-March



We're halfway through March and I feel so exhausted already.  Anyone else been getting sick lately?  Feeling like life is getting too busy to keep up with?  February flew by in such a flash, I didn't even have enough time to do a mid-month post.  Oh, well.  Here's what's been going on lately...

Eating //  All the bad things.  I really need to start back on my wheat belly diet because that is exactly what I've been growing - a wheat belly.

Drinking //  Coffee, water and soda.  Yes, soda.  I don't normally drink carbonated drinks (unless they're mixed with alcohol) but I've been craving them for some reason lately.

Listening to //  The local radio stations.  These days I listen to Power 98 on my way to and from work because the hosts in the mornings and afternoons are so funny.  The only time I use Pandora or Tidal now is when I workout (which hasn't been very often).

Reading //  NetGalley books.  I love that I'm able to read new books for free, but having to read and review them with a deadline is kind of a bummer.  Once I get through all of the books currently on my NetGalley shelf, I'm going to take a pause and get back to my reading challenge list books.

Writing //  A few poems here and there and continuing my #52Lists.

Watching //  Still on Grey's Anatomy.  Haven't really been watching much since I've been reading more books lately.

Wearing //  Basic pieces (dresses, tops, tanks, jeans, etc.) in neutral and muted colors (black, grey, white, olive, mauve, denim blue, etc.).

Buying //  Ordered some goodies from Ulta, planner stickers, books, a few sewing patterns, and some clothes from Homecoming Honolulu.  #noregrets

Looking forward to //  Chloe's 9th birthday this Sunday (March 19th) and Joey's 35th birthday on the 30th.  Also looking forward to the craziness of March to be over.  April seems like a vacation compared to this month.

Stressing over //  Chloe's birthday party on Sunday, work shit, Joey's birthday, summer plans, life.

Hoping for //  A little down time to finish my current projects and start on a new project, sunshine and a little salt water therapy before the month ends.

 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Studio DIY "Can't Clutch This" Review + Giveaway!


For those of you who know, I'm a huge fan of subscription shopping.  I've subscribed to ipsy, Julep, FabKids, JustFab, Fabletics, ShoeDazzle and the Planner Society.  Over the past few months I cancelled several subscriptions because I hardly used any of the products I'd gotten and it wasn't worth the money for me anymore.  So, when Studio DIY launched their Can't Clutch This subscription I was hesitant at first but ended up giving in because the clutch was just too cute to pass up!

After receiving my first month's clutch (and add ons!), I was instantly hooked!  The design is so cute, and fun and true to the spirit of Studio DIY which I absolutely loved.  The clutch itself exceeded my expectations as far as quality goes.  It is very sturdy and easy to clean and the hardware is legit!  No need to worry about pulling the zipper too hard on these!

My Snap of December's Clutch

In my opinion, at $20/month it's totally worth it.  Plus, you can add on some awesome flair that coordinates with the clutch each month as well!  ALWAYS get the add-ons.  You won't regret it.


Though I really, truly love the subscription and I think it's totally worth it, I have a few things I thought I should share with you about my shopping experience so far with Studio DIY.

When I first signed up, there wasn't much to go on.  It was quite a confusing experience because it was fresh and new.  I had no idea when the clutches would be revealed, when they would ship, what the deadline was to select add-ons, etc.  I'm the kind of person who needs to have those things laid out in plain view, bold letters, all caps, flashing lights, animation and reminder emails.  Studio DIY doesn''t have all that.  You kinda have to search around for that info which I didn't find out until a few days ago.


Also, another thing I should note is that you can't skip a month.  If you don't care for that month's clutch, you'll have to "start a conversation" with them and cancel your subscription.  And, if you forget to put aside money in your "subscriptions account" for that month, your order will be voided but your subscription won't be.  So, if you get an email saying your subscription payment failed and your order was voided and you log in to purchase that month's clutch because you completely forgot about it and had no idea when you'd be billed for it anyway, you'll end up creating TWO subscriptions.  That means, every month thereafter you will be charged for two clutches and will have to "start a conversation" to cancel one of them.

If you haven't already figured it out, I ended up creating two subscriptions in January.  So, when February came around, I was charged twice and received two clutches.  Instead of sending it back and going through the whole process of a return, I figured it would be great giveaway prize to go along with my review, so my loss is your gain!

This is the first giveaway I've hosted in quite a while so I'll make it easy for you:  Just comment below and tell me what your favorite subscription service/box is!  That's it, that's all there is to it!  I'll be picking the winner at random, so if you don't have a blogger account, or your email is not connected to your account, please be sure to include your email address in your comment so I can notify you if you've won!


GOOD LUCK!

**This opinions expressed in this review and the prize included in this giveaway are 100% my own and paid for by me.  This post is not endorsed or sponsored by Studio DIY in any way.***

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Books Lately: February '17




February was a good book month for me.  Being sick in the beginning of the month meant a lot of time spent curled up in bed with a book.  I also bought a few real books too because I missed the feel of having an actual book in my hands.  Ebooks are great and so convenient, but there's no comparison to holding, reading and smelling a real book in your hands.  And, since I'm still clearing out instead of collecting, my books are being housed in my office's conference room so that other people can read them and add their books to the collection as well.  It's like our own little office library - that has nothing to do with law books.



Sisters One, Two, Three, by Nancy Star

Description from Amazon:

"After a tragic accident on Martha’s Vineyard, keeping secrets becomes a way of life for the Tangle family. With memories locked away, the sisters take divergent paths. Callie disappears, Mimi keeps so busy she has no time to think, and Ginger develops a lifelong aversion to risk that threatens the relationships she holds most dear.

When a whispered comment overheard by her rebellious teenage daughter forces Ginger to reveal a long-held family secret, the Tangles’ carefully constructed web of lies begins to unravel. Upon the death of Glory, the family’s colorful matriarch, and the return of long-estranged Callie, Ginger resolves to return to Martha’s Vineyard and piece together what really happened on that calamitous day when a shadow fell over four sun-kissed siblings playing at the shore. Along with Ginger’s newfound understanding come the keys to reconciliation: with her mother, with her sisters, and with her daughter.

At turns heartbreaking, humorous, and hopeful, Sisters One, Two, Three explores not only the consequences of secrets—even secrets kept out of love—but also the courage it takes to speak the truth, to forgive, and to let go."

I loved this book because of all the unexpected twists and secrets uncovered!  Ginger was a very annoying character, so much so that I wanted to punch her in the face sometimes because of her constant worrying about every little thing.  Her sister Mimi was also annoying, trying to force people to do things her way.  Basically, I wanted to punch almost all of the characters at one point or another, but I realized that's how family is - you want to punch them in the face but you can't help but love them in the end.  The secrets in this book are so crazy that it's hard to understand how nobody knew the truth, but the major events happened in the '70's and that was a different time, when people weren't so open about tragedy and kept family matters quiet.  Definitely a good book to read if you like a story with a lot of unexpected twists!



A Stolen Life, by Jaycee Dugard

Description from Amazon:

"In the summer of 1991 I was a normal kid. I did normal things. I had friends and a mother who loved me. I was just like you. Until the day my life was stolen. 

For eighteen years I was a prisoner. I was an object for someone to use and abuse.

For eighteen years I was not allowed to speak my own name. I became a mother and was forced to be a sister. For eighteen years I survived an impossible situation.

On August 26, 2009, I took my name back. My name is Jaycee Lee Dugard. I don’t think of myself as a victim. I survived.

A Stolen Life is my story—in my own words, in my own way, exactly as I remember it."

This book gave me goosebumps at some parts and I literally had to take a break from the book once or twice because of the graphic retelling of her experiences.  Whether you're a parent or not, you really can't read through this thing without getting goosebumps or chills down your spine.  How she was able to survive for so long in those conditions I'll never know.  I'm so glad that the Garridos are behind bars and will remain there for a LONG time.  The death penalty would have been better, but that's just my opinion.



The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot

Description from Amazon:

"Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta's cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can't afford health insurance. This phenomenal New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew."

By far one of the most unexpectedly amazing books I've ever read.  I've had this book for quite some time but never got around to reading it partially because it had been buried under a bunch of crap on my nightstand, but mostly because I was intimidated by it since it is listed as a non-fiction book about science.  Science and math have never been my jam so I wasn't excited to read a boring book about the history of some cells.  YOU GUYS.  I was SO wrong about this book.  Though it is listed as non-fiction, the author did such an amazing job and wrote it in the first person in a way that it reads like fiction.  The characters in the book are actual people and the author portrays them honestly which makes them so relateable.  Learning about the HeLa cells and the scientific breakthroughs they caused was not confusing or frustrating at all because the author broke it down in a way that was easily understandable.  The end of this book had me wanting to learn even MORE about the HeLa cells, DNA, tissue rights and the Henrietta Lacks Foundation.



Neon Soul, by Alexandra Elle
**A copy of this book has been generously provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Description from NetGalley:

"In short, powerful verses, Alexandra Elle shares a hard-won message of hope.

Alexandra Elle writes frankly about her experience as a young, single mother while she celebrates her triumph over adversity and promotes resilience and self-care in her readers. This book of all-new poems from the beloved author of Words From A Wanderer and Love In My Language is a quotable companion on the road to healing."


It has been so long since I've read a book of poetry and this book was exactly what I needed.  I've followed the author on Instagram for quite some time now and the images, affirmations, poems and quotes in her feed always inspire me to write, spread love and take action.  I haven't read her first two collections but after reading this one, I'm definitely planning on getting them.



Scrappy Little Nobody, by Anna Kendrick

A hilarious autobiography by Anna Kendrick.

Celebrity autobiographies are always so fun to read, especially if that celebrity is sarcastic, funny, and down-to-earth.  Anna Kendrick is like the weird little white girl who lives up the street.  She's loud, awkward and a little pushy, but you can't help rooting for her.  Such a fun book that made me laugh out loud at certain parts (at which times I had to close the book because Chloe looked over and tried to read what was so funny - warning: this is not a book for minors).



Ensnared, by Rita Stradling
**A copy of this book has been generously provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Description from NetGalley:


I have to admit that it took me a while to get into this book.  I started reading it and it was so slow and a bit confusing through the first few chapters that it took me a couple days until the story finally picked up and got me interested.  There were still a lot of parts throughout the whole thing that were confusing as hell and could have been omitted from the book altogether because it didn't add to the story and most of the time it was hard to visualize the scenes and characters, but all in all it was an interesting read for me.
 

I Love My Love, by Reyna Biddy
**A copy of this book has been generously provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Description from NetGalley:

"In short, poignant verses, Reyna Mays' poems explore pain, emotional reckoning, and the power of self-love.

The debut collection from 22-year-old poet Reyna Mays, I Love My Love tells the story of Reyna's childhood, her parents’ toxic relationship, and how, against all odds, she learned to love herself."


Oh, how I love I Love My Love!  Full of emotional and powerful (and some really short) poems that really resonated with me.  You can feel the love, anger, self-doubt and growth that the author portrays.  I loved and re-read so many of the poems contained in this book that I stopped adding bookmarks to my digital copy and decided to just buy the hard copy to keep on my nightstand.  The author, Reyna Biddy, is still pretty young and finding herself and it shows in some of her poems, but I still highly recommend this to anyone who has ever felt lonely, unloved, or taken for granted.



Love & Misadventure, by Lang Leav

Description from Amazon:

"The journey from love to heartbreak to finding love again is personal yet universal. Lang Leav's evocative poetry speaks to the soul of anyone who is on this journey.  Leav has an unnerving ability to see inside the hearts and minds of her readers. Her talent for translating complex emotions with astonishing simplicity has won her a cult following of devoted fans from all over the world.

Lang Leav is a poet and internationally exhibiting artist. Her work expresses the intricacies of love and loss."


I enjoyed this collection of poems but not as much as the others I've been reading lately.  These poems are very short (some only two lines) and simple so if you're looking for a long, complex poem that spills emotion, you won't find it here.


 
Citizen, by Claudia Rankine 

Description from Amazon:

"Claudia Rankine's bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person's ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named "post-race" society."

It's hard not to feel some kind of emotion after reading this book.  I don't read the news, I don't follow politics or pay much attention to what's happening around the world but reading this made me realize how much I've been blind to.  This author really sheds light on the things I've never noticed and opened my eyes to things that we as a society need to change.  Fear, hatred, racism and oppression are real, and ignoring it or thinking it doesn't affect us and the bubble we live in only makes it harder for things to change.


Someone Always Robs the Poor
 **A copy of this book has been generously provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

 Description From NetGalley:  

"A long-awaited new collection of stories from one of Scotland’s most acclaimed writers.

A young man returns from London, facing the prospect of reunion with a young daughter he’s never met. A woman recounts her family’s doomed attempt to emigrate from Poland to America 70 years before. A creative writing tutor is shocked by the story of one of his students, who is connected to a past atrocity in Bosnia. A former architect fights a losing battle with alcoholism and the ghosts from his past.

Here is a new collection of brilliant stories from the multi-award winning elder statesman of Scottish literature, exploring themes of poverty, migration, alienation, accountability and alcoholism, with an impressive depth and emotional range."


I didn't think I would enjoy this book as much as I did, but I absolutely loved it.  I started off not liking it because I got a little confused about whether or not someone was speaking and which character was speaking because the author does not use quotation marks in his stories but once I got used to his writing style, it was so easy to look past that and really get into each story.  These stories are so emotional without being overly dramatic which really surprised me because I didn't think that stories so short could be that powerful.  Definitely recommend this book!!



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