Book Review: She Who Destroys the Light: Fairy Tales Gone Wrong by Shahida Arabi


Genres/Descriptors:
poetry

Why I read it: That awesome cover and title caught my eye first. Then I saw it was poetry and entered the goodreads giveaway and ended up winning a copy.

Who I’d recommend it to: I’m having a hard time thinking of anyone I would actually recommend it to :/ More on that later.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ (2.75 maybe)

 

Goodreads | Amazon (Kindle only) | Thought Catalog | iTunes 


Goodreads Descriptions:

The best fairy tales are the untold stories, the ones where the powerless take back their power and emerge as the victors, but not before enduring a long, arduous battle with the self and the world. In her debut poetry collection, ‘She Who Destroys The Light: Fairy Tales Gone Wrong,’ Shahida Arabi candidly explores the themes of destruction and resurrection, unraveling the dark realities of abuse, trauma, heartbreak and the survivor’s convoluted journey to freedom, healing, creativity and self-love. This collection provides an uncensored and raw exploration into the complexities of adversity and agency, offering a rare glimpse of what it truly means to survive and rise again from the impact of emotional and psychological violence.


Review:

I’ve been sitting on my review of this book since the end of April, trying  to figure out what I want to say about it, and I’m still not sure. But I need to review it before it fades from my mind too much, so I’m just going to jump in and hope for the best.

Like I said earlier, I was taken in by the cover and title of this book, first. I mean, fairy tales? Gone wrong? In poetry?! Yes, please!

And that was the first let down. While I guess some of these might have a touch of fairy tale feel in the darkness of the themes, I was mostly just confused about the subtitle choice after a few pages.

What I expected was something from known (and maybe even lesser known) fairy tales being used in the poetry. But it ended up feeling like the author either had never actually read any of the fairy tales (or seen the movies, or heard a synopsis), or was trying to combine characters and stories. It just didn’t work for me.

I read, and basically have always read, a lot of poetry. I’ve read old stuff, stuff from the last century, and new stuff, and I can’t think of any other time when I felt so confused by what I was reading. I came away from this collection feeling like I’d read something that sounded ok at first, because the way it was written had interesting imagery, a nice arrangement of words, or whatever, but then there’s that “Wait… What?” moment. At which point I would go back and re-read the same piece a few times and gain little or no clarity.

That wasn’t the case for every poem in this collection, but quite a few. Enough so that about 3/4 of the way through, I would have just DNF’d it, except a) it was a copy I’d won, and b) I was participating in a read a thon.

I think the biggest problem for me was trying to figure out how it was inspired by or was incorporating a fairy tale into the poem. Or being confused by things like “The Evil Stepmother” (pg 69) not…being the older woman mentioned. In that particular poem, it’s a mother in law, not a stepmother. And there’s a reference to Rapunzel spinning gold (“Rapunzel,” pg 11).

(Pretend there’s a great “deep breath” kind of gif here because that’s what I’m doing right now.)

Ok… Not every poem is like that, all mish-mashed or whatever. But it happened, and sometimes I never saw any real connection to myth or fairy tale. “Take Me” (pg 112-114) was probably one of my favorites. That one was probably the best example of what I was expecting from this collection (it references myths instead of fairy tales, though).

I think I would have rated this higher (maybe 3.5-4 stars?) if it hadn’t been for that subtitle. I hate being misled by a book description, and I think this would have been better left without the subtitle. I just can’t get past it, and if that’s petty, well, I guess I’m petty.

The poems, by themselves, ignoring the supposed fairy tale connections, were not bad. This was far from my favorite collection, but I did enjoy a few. As usual, there were times when I had no clue what the poem was written about (as in, what Shahida Arabi was thinking when she wrote it), or even a guess as to what it could have been about. There were probably a fair number I interpreted “wrong,” too. Still, I found a few that I liked by themselves, such as “Paper Dolls,” “Leave,” “Memory,” “High,” “Revolution,” and “Evolution.”

Possibly the best thing about this was that I can’t remember it ever feeling repetitive. Even in poetry collections I love, sometimes I notice enough repetition to take away a bit of enjoyment. I get it, themes and such binding a poetry collection together and all that. But sometimes it gets to be a little much. While the pieces in this one pretty much seemed to go together, each poem was a bit different from the others. Not many stood out to me, individually, but not reading about the same thing over and over was nice.

On one hand, I feel like I’m rating this unfairly because I personally didn’t love it. But, isn’t that the point of rating and reviewing? Just because it wasn’t a hit with me, doesn’t mean someone else won’t love it. For anyone who is considering this collection, be warned that a lot of triggering things are written about in here. I can’t remember everything, but I think there should at least be triggers for domestic violence, abuse, possibly self-harm, and probably more. It’s not a light hearted and easy book, and in that way, it does resemble fairy tales. It’s dark, and it was kind of hard for me to read at times because of the subjects.


All of this leads to why it’s hard for me to think of who I would recommend this to. The subtitle is deceptive, it’s poetry (which is something people seem to have very strong feelings about, one way or another), and it definitely needs trigger warnings.

But it isn’t “bad” poetry, if you like poetry and heavy themes. I do wish I’d liked it more, but you can’t love everything you read, I guess.

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National Poetry Month

It’s the 18th and I just realized I never posted book recs for National Poetry Month :/ Oops…

I made a post last year, so I won’t add all of those to this post. This post will be for poetry I’ve read since last April, or forgot to include last time. All the links (and covers…if they’re working properly) take you to the Goodreads page for each book.




Love, and You
by Gretchen Gomez– This was one of my favorites last year, and I highly recommend it if you’ve enjoyed books by Rupi Kaur, Amanda Lovelace, etc. (Reviewed here)

 

 



I Am More Than a Daydream
by Jennae Cecelia– I liked this one a lot, but haven’t bought more of her books yet. This is one I would recommend if you want a “feel good” poetry collection.

 

 

 


Tell Me Where it Hurts
by J.R. Rogue– This is what you read when you want to ache and ugly cry your way through a book. It is raw, emotional, and beautiful and I loved it.

 

 


Throes by Kat Savage– Ok…I read a couple of Kat Savage’s books really close together, so I’m not sure what my exact thoughts on this one were. I just know I gave it 5/5 stars and Kat has almost become an “auto-buy” poet for me.

 

 



La Douleur Exquise
by J.R. Rogue– Rogue has also become a favorite. Like the idiot I am, I also never reviewed this one. But I gave it 4/5 stars and remember really liking it.

 

 



The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One
by Amanda Lovelace– This one had to make the list, right? If you want to get pumped up to fight the patriarchy, check this one out. (Reviewed here)

 

 



DROPKICKromance
by Cyrus Parker– This one basically ripped out my heart. I loved this debut, and I can not wait for more from Cyrus Parker. (Reviewed here)

 

 


 

Mad Woman by Kat Savage– I think this was the first of Kat’s books I read, and oh wow did it hit me hard. (Reviewed here)

 

 


Blue Horses by Mary Oliver– I actually don’t remember anything about this one, other than enjoying it and wanting to buy more of Oliver’s books. She’d been on my TBR for like a decade anyway, but this was the first book of hers I got my hands on and I gave it 4/5 stars.

 

 


Last year, I don’t think I really talked about novels in verse, but this year, I am. Some of these I read waaaay back in high school, some I’ve read recently.

 


The Poet X
by Elizabeth Acevedo– I just read this one and abso-freaking-lutely loved it. It’s contemporary and very good. I highly recommend it, 5/5 stars. (Reviewed here)

 

 



Audacity
by Melanie Crowder– I read this one last year and devoured it, too. It’s historical fiction, but based on a real person (Clara Lemlich) and her fight for equality. I gave it 4.5/5 stars.

 

 


What My Mother Doesn’t Know
by Sonya Sones– Ok I read this one ages ago, like…probably 13+ years ago? (It came out in 2001, so I probably read it between then and 2005.) I don’t remember anything about the book itself, I just remember that I loved it when I read it. And instead of listing the other Sonya Sones books I read as a teen, I’ll just generally recommend looking into them.

 


Out of the Dust
by Karen Hesse– I probably read this one around 1998/1999, so–again– I don’t really remember it. But I did immediately remember that I’d read it when I accidentally came across it on Goodreads, so that’s something, right? I’m pretty sure I liked this one back then. I think it’s kind of pre-YA, but suitable for maybe ages 10+ (the protag is 14ish I think).

 

 

There are a lot more out there, and several I’d like to read, but this is all I can think of right now. (Although I think I could also include a couple I tried and hated, but…this is a post for recommendations to read, not avoid.)


And then we have…”other.”


The Divine Comedy
by Dante Alighieri– Confession: I haven’t finished this >.< I started it about 11 years ago when my then-fiance-now-husband bought a copy for me, and I made it like halfway through Paradiso before getting distracted by the last HP book coming out :/ Oops. But, I now have an edition that I am in love with (both the aesthetic and the translation), so…sooon!

 

 

The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer– I remember devouring these in the school library in 6th and 7th grade, and now I’m dying to re-read them, but I sadly do not have either 😦 But I have to recommend them, because they’re epic 😉 (See what I did there? I know, I’m not funny. Sorry.)

 

 


The Poetic Edda
No author on this one because the poetry was compiled and probably changed quite a bit by multiple people over the course of who knows how much time. These poems were originally passed along orally, probably as poetry or songs, before eventually being collected in writing. Anyway, if you want to know about Norse mythology, and want something closer to the original stories than some modern retellings and the like, check this out.


Aaaannnd….that’s all I have right now. I am thinking about making another post with the poetry books at the top of my wishlist, so if that’s something any of you would be interested in, definitely let me know 🙂


What are some of your favorite poetry books?

Have you read any novels in verse that you loved?

How about epics, myths, etc.?

Book Review: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo


Genres/Descriptors:
contemporary; YA; poetry (a novel in verse)

Why I read it:  A novel about poetry/a poet, written in verse? How could I not pick it up?

Who I’d recommend it to: If you’re into poetry at all or have enjoyed verse novels in the past, and/or if you enjoy YA contemporary stories, I highly recommend this one. Even if you’re not sure if a novel in verse is for you, I’d still recommend checking it out.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Books a Million | IndieBound


What it’s about (from Goodreads):

A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.


Review:

Are you screeching in excitement yet? Folks, I don’t know how this evaded me for so long (ok, I do know, it’s because I intentionally pulled back from the bookish world because I knew I couldn’t buy books for a long time, and I didn’t want to be sad). I didn’t hear anything about this until….well, actually until I happened across it on Over Drive and looked it up on Good Reads. Seriously, did I just miss all the buzz because I was getting my hermit on, or was there just basically none?

First up, let’s talk about that cover. So pretty, right?! That caught my eye first, followed quickly by the word “poet” in the title. The artist was Gabriel Moreno and I’m kind of obsessed. It’s just so gorgeous and perfect and I feel like it really goes with the book. Check out more of Gabriel’s art here, if you’re interested (I was, and I’m really loving it).

Ok, onward to the book itself!

As most novels in verse are, this was a pretty quick read. It’s a little over 350 pages, but I could have easily read it in one afternoon if I’d been able to sit long enough. (Don’t  you hate it when you’re really loving a book but things like laundry keep interrupting?) I tore through this book and I’m really thinking about buying a copy. I feel like I could re-read this one a few times.

Xiomara…oh gods, where do I start? This girl is a fighter, in more ways than one, and I feel like this book is very timely. I think teenagers today need more books like this in their lives, and I wish I’d had this book when I was 10-12 years younger, because it would have hit me even harder and inspired me even more. I can honestly see this making it onto reading lists at some point (I’m really not sure how that works, but I know it’s going to be on my kid’s reading list in a few years).

The home life Xiomara had really hit close to home for me in some ways. She grew up with a Catholic family, while I grew up in a Protestant home, but her relationship with her mother reminded me of my life a bit. I didn’t actually expect to relate a lot to anyone in this book, because their life experiences are very different than mine in pretty much every way, but it happened anyway and broke my heart. But Xiomara, wow. She handled things so well (I can’t think of a better way she could have handled anything, really), definitely better than I would have, and I felt so proud of her. There was this one scene with her mother that made me go cold all over because it brought back memories, and my heart ached for her. I had to take a break for a while after reading that bit.

 

I had so many feelings while reading this. I seriously laughed and cried, I cringed a little, I whispered “oh no,” I cheered internally (and might have had a little fist pumping at some point). So many feelings. It was a journey, and it was wonderful and so real. I felt inspired by Xiomara, and I feel like this book would have been amazing for teenage me. (It was amazing for adult me, but it would have been more amazing for teenage me.)

I enjoy more flowery writing with novels in verse sometimes (or poetry, or novels, in general, honestly), but the contemporary and sometimes very blunt writing in this novel, mixed with metaphors and imagery was refreshing and very well done. Which I guess shouldn’t be surprising considering Elizabeth Aceveda is an award-winning slam poet herself. This book was kind of a diary, and I feel like it read like that, if that makes sense. Like, this could have been a real diary, just written in verse. It felt very personal and raw a lot of the time, and it definitely (as I’ve said) gave me feelings

This book was just so good and I think I’ll be recommending it a lot.

 

DROPKICKromance– Book Review


Genres:
poetry

Why I read it: I’ve followed the author on social media for a long time, and added this to my TBR the second it was announced. Then I found it on Net Galley and whatddya know, my finger slipped and I clicked to get an ARC 😛

Who I’d recommend it to: Poetry lovers, poetry newbies, the broken-hearted and people looking for hope…actually I think I’ll be recommending this to just about everyone for a while.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

 

Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Amazon


What it’s about (from Goodreads):

A collection of autobiographical poetry about healing and learning to love again from professional-wrestler-turned-poet, Cyrus Parker.

The first half of DROPKICKromance focuses on a toxic, long-distance relationship the author was involved in for several years, while the second half focuses on his current relationship with poet Amanda Lovelace. Ultimately, the collection tells about a profound journey of healing.


Review:

Let me just start this off with this super accurate representation of me while I was reading this book

 (I totally tweeted this first but whatever.)

What you need before you start reading (aka: what I should have armed myself with before I read it):

  • tissues
  • ice cream, chocolate, or some other comfort-food-thing
  • tissues
  • bourbon (or your alcohol of choice…if you drink, that is…if not, grab some cocoa or soothing tea, or a great cup of coffee)
  • did I mention tissues yet?
  • a pen and paper to catch the inspiration to write you’ll be feeling thanks to this book
  • a backup box of tissues

Seriously folks, this book hit me hard in the feels, and it kept hitting me at unexpected times throughout the entire thing. I would think I was past the things that were going to strike a chord, and then another one would come along. While I’ve followed Cyrus Parker on social media for at least a couple of years, and have seen some of his poetry in that time, I was not at all prepared for this book or for how much I would relate to some of the poems. My tablet died halfway through reading this, and I was happy about it because it forced me to take a break and pull myself together before diving back in. (Side note: What the heck is up with the technical difficulties I’ve been having with Net Galley books lately?! Ugh.)

you’ve sacrificed
so many pieces
of me,
it’s only fair
that you sacrifice
something
for me.

— i’m not asking for much.

I went through a lot of emotions while reading this, and it wasn’t a bad thing. It was kind of cathartic, actually. I felt some anger, sympathy, empathy, hope, happiness, nostalgia, and sadness, and honestly sometimes I think I felt all of those at once. Weirdly, I only got teary-eyed during the first half of the book, but during the second half I was ugly crying all over my tablet. I think those were mostly happy-tears, though. 

knowing that you’re
willing to share
the rest of your life
with me

is knowing that
there must be
some good
inside of me.

— somewhere.

This collection is so brutally honest and heartbreaking (at least in the beginning), but beautifully written, and I can’t remember the last time I went through a poetry book so quickly. (I usually end up reading one over the course of 2-5 days in small chunks.) If my tablet hadn’t died when it did, I would have read this in one sitting for sure.

I’ve been anxiously waiting for this book for about a year, and it was so worth the wait. (I could have read it sooner if my reading devices had cooperate *glares at them*) I was looking forward to it, but also nervous and worried I wouldn’t like it, or wouldn’t love it. Those fears turned out to be completely unfounded, because I. Freaking. LOVED this book. It’s definitely made my list of all-time-favorite poetry collections (and probably books, in general), and I’m dying to get a physical copy. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that might happen this weekend, but I’m not sure it’s in stock at the nearest bookstores yet 😥 If not, I might have to break down and just order it because I need it on my shelf yesterday.

Do I recommend it? Hell yes I do! Cyrus Parker is a talented poet and I’m looking forward to reading more from him in the future.

The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One– Book Review


Genres: poetry; feminism

Why I read it: I snagged the e-ARC from Net Galley because I couldn’t wait until release day ❤

Who I’d recommend it to: Probably first to fans of The Princess Saves Herself In This One, fans of poetry, feminists, witchy women, and anyone who wants to burn down the patriarchy.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4.5/5 stars)

 

Goodreads | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Amazon


What it’s about (from goodreads):

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.


Review:

I feel like I waited years for this book, and that feeling wasn’t helped by my technical difficulties while trying to read it >_< Long story short: this eARC from Net Galley is one of those that can’t be read on a Kindle, my iPad freaked out and I had to restore it, and the app I used to read the book was a pain in the butt to get downloaded and to then get the books on (partially because, for some reason, I couldn’t even get the Net Galley site to open for-freaking-ever, ugh). And I also think I might be missing a few pages in my copy for some reason, because I’ve seen other people quote things that I don’t remember reading, and they were things I definitely would have remembered :/

Anyway… Back to the book itself, and what I thought of it.

First up: It’s release day!! The wait is truly over, and if broom-travel were possible, my witchy butt would be flying to the nearest Target that has this in stock because I was too broke to pre-order it 😦

If Amanda’s first poetry collection (The Princess Saves Herself In This One) was a book of facing and slaying your own demons, this second collection is a call to arms for other women, and a warning to lurking monsters that we (women) have had enough and are fighting back. I think I made it to “-she.”–which is quoted below–before I started having to bite my tongue to keep from actually screaming/cheering out loud while reading this one.

i don’t need you
to write my story.

i write it
e v e r y  d a y

& you couldn’t
even translate

the fucking
punctuation.

she.

Like in Princess, a lot of sensitive topics are touched on in this collection, and there’s a trigger warning list at the beginning of the book. This collection is angry, raw, and no sugar has been added to sweeten the ugly truths addressed. Also like when I read Princess, I felt a lot of things while reading this. Unlike Princess, I didn’t feel punches to the gut when I read things that hit close to home. Instead, I felt pissed off and ready to link hands with other women and crush the patriarchy under my stompy, pointy, witchy boots.

“bitch,” he spits

“witch,” he sneers.

& i say
“actually, i’m both.”

– reclaim everything.

The one thing I vacillated between loving  and not loving (I didn’t hate it, though) was the repetitiveness. Sometimes, I really enjoyed it because either I liked the imagery or it helped tie the whole collection together, and sometimes it felt like I’d read a certain word or phrase one too many times. Don’t get me wrong: it isn’t every poem or anything like that. It just happened enough for me to notice.

Basically, I adored this book and I can not wait to get my hands on a physical copy. Speaking of, have you guys seen the Target exclusive?! It’s red! *cue heart eyes* 

Did I love it as much as her first collection? Maybe not, but it’s pretty close, and still probably making my list of favorite poetry books. Do I recommend it? Yessss! But obviously not if you hated Princess, or hate this style of poetry.

Must Read Mondays: September 25th

Must Read Monday is a (usually) weekly thing I do here to recommend books I’ve read and enjoyed.


Love, and You by Gretchen Gomez

34335011
When I read it: May 2017

Genres: poetry

Recommended for: People who like poetry (or are looking for collections to find out if they like poetry), anyone whose heart has been broken.

(Reviewed here)

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble

 


What it’s about:

one day i met a guy
who stole my heart,
we created a world
for ourselves.
and another day
he broke my heart
and shattered
my soul.

i took the tattered
pieces of this
broken soul and
became anew.

– here lies the hurting, the healing, and the learning


I definitely cried, or at least teared up, a few times when I read this. It was an emotional, sometimes difficult, book to read, but I loved it and I keep recommending it to everyone, so I thought it was time to finally use it as a Must Read Mondays book (the only reason it took so long is because I thought I’d used it already).

Book Review: love, & you by Gretchen Gomez

34335011Genres: poetry

Why I read it: I follow Gretchen’s blog, and I follow her on twitter, so I was anxiously awaiting release day for this one! (Then, of course, life happened and it took a month for me to actually get it, but I finally did!)

Who I’d recommend it to: If you’ve had a bad relationship, had your heart broken, or just want an accessible poetry collection, this is for you.

 

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

 

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble


Description:

one day i met a guy
who stole my heart,
we created a world
for ourselves.
and another day
he broke my heart
and shattered
my soul.

i took the tattered
pieces of this
broken soul and
became anew.

– here lies the hurting, the healing, and the learning


Review:

You know I have to take a moment to talk about this cover. I think it’s gorgeous, and I found out that the designer, Islam Farid, has actually been behind several covers I’ve fallen in love with recently, including this one. The black/white/red color scheme is one of my absolute favorites for literally anything (my nails are currently bright red with an accent nail on each that’s black and white striped), and I love the silhouette on this being white on a black background. I feel like that isn’t done a lot, and I love it.

The words, though. This was an emotional read that reminded me a lot of how I felt the first time I read the princess saves herself in this one. Do you ever read something and feel the words echo through your soul because they could be about you? I won’t say I felt that way about every poem in this collection, because I didn’t, but there were several that squeezed my heart and brought tears to my eyes.

I love that it isn’t broken up into sections, but still reads like a journey through different phases. The earlier poems had my heart breaking, but the ones toward the end patched me up, and might have left me in better shape than before I started the book.

One of my favorites that I’ve read several times was this one (pg. 117 in the paperback):

don’t waste time
regretting the
time you wasted

you
can
never
take
back
time

make time for
yourself now

rub self care on like oil

 

By the end of this book, I wanted to hug Gretchen and thank her, and maybe pour both of us a drink. It was painful and beautiful and brutally honest, and I wish younger versions of me had been able to read this book. Maybe I would have felt stronger sooner, learned to love myself a little earlier, and possibly avoided making some mistakes with my heart.

It’s not a light and fluffy read, but it ends with some empowering poems about self-love and taking care of yourself, and remembering that love isn’t supposed to hurt.

This is one I’ve already been recommending to people, and I’m sure that will continue. I can definitely see myself re-reading this a lot, and I’ll possibly be gifting it to people eventually. (I only say “possibly” because I don’t have many reader friends, and even fewer who enjoy poetry.)

If you like poetry that’s accessible (not overly steeped in metaphors and the like), but can punch you right in the feels with the emotions the words evoke, you need to read this.


If this sounds like something you might like, the kindle edition is on sale today for $0.99!