#5OnMyTBR: Poetry

Hello Mondays, welcome back to #5OnMyTBR, a meme created by the wonderful E @ The Local Bee Hunter’s Nook. This bookish meme gets us to dig even further into our TBRs by simply posting about five books on our TBR! You can learn more about it here or in the post announcing it. You can find the full list of prompts (past and future) at the end of this post!

This week’s prompt is: Poetry.

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#WWWWednesday: 25 March

I’m writing this the day before so who knows if I’ll have finished another book by the time it posts! But today is Bali’s Day of Silence and is basically the Balinese New Year. It’s a cultural/religious event that happens every year and it’s basically when everything shuts down and we’re not allowed to use electricity, listen to music or do work amongst other things. Internet gets shut down, TV and radio networks don’t broadcast and well, when we say day of silence, we really mean it! The purpose of the day has always been for quiet introspection/meditation as we start a new (Balinese) calendar year. People stay quiet and indoors or in their housing complexes and the silence is actually palpable–it’s a heavy weight but not at all unpleasant (at least to me). I know it sounds extreme to a lot of people but it’s actually pretty nice to disconnect even if for a day. As a book loving introvert it’s really no biggie for me but a lot of people freak out big time! I’m certainly getting a lot of time for reading these days (and I’m not mad about it)! 😅

Hello, hello and welcome back to another episode of WWW Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words, which means I’ll be answering these questions:

  1. What did you read last?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What will you read next?

Since last Wednesday I’ve managed to read four books:

Check, Please by Ngozi Ukazu ★★★★½
I have been gushing non-stop about this web comic since I discovered it. I binged on it and caught up to the most recent episode in a few hours. I can’t wait to see how it ends! This was such a joy to read and it’s exactly what I needed this week. It’s got a wonderfully hilarious group of characters at its centre and a heartmelting and swoon-worthy LGBTQ+ sports romance 🥰 Review coming soon!

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley ★★★★★
This book basically took me by the feels, shook me and shouted FEEL IT ALL. I was not ready for how emotional this book would make me! It was a beautifully written novel about grief and love. It was a love letter to books and who doesn’t love a boo about books?! This completely swept me away and made me fall in love with words all over again and I’d highly recommend it. Review coming soon!

The Dark Between Stars by Atticus Poetry ★★★½
This is my first time reading anything by Atticus and overall I did enjoy reading this collection, even if it was a little bit all over the place/disjointed. There were some poems that were more than a little “meh” but there were also many that hit close to home and made me a little teary eyed. This isn’t the best collection of poetry but there are a few on here that might be new favourites. Review coming soon (probably)!

The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club #1) by Lyssa Kay Adams ★★★★☆
Leading man Gavin and the guys in the bromance book club are what won me over in this book. I struggled with Thea a bit, although overall found her character likeable enough. Her sister on the other hand was a completely different story and I disliked her intensely. The banter was on point and I loved how passionate the guys were to better themselves through romance novels. Read my full review!

(eARC) Eat, and Love Yourself by Sweeney Boo, Lilian Klapakowsky ★★★☆☆
The artwork in this graphic novel is superb and made me love it more. The book talks about an issue that affects so many people, myself included, so I was really excited for this storyline but I was let down. We’re promised a journey through recovery, self-acceptance and love but we don’t get much of that. Plus the ending was so abrupt and pretty disappointing. Review coming soon!

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#TopTenTuesday: Spring Possibility Pile!

It’s that time of the week again, friends! We’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is: spring TBR possibility pile!

To say that I’ve got a ton of eARCs that need to be read over the next few months would really be a mild understatement. Why do I keep requesting more books and why do I keep signing up for more blog tours after telling myself I’d take a nice long break from it for a while? *shrugs* I got problems. As fun as it’d be to list all those books here, there are a few others that have been sitting on my TBR that I’d like to get to soon as well, so this is my possibility pile for those reads!

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#ARMEDWITHABINGO Announcement & Possibility Pile

This year I also joined the #ARMEDWITHABINGO reading challenge hosted by Kriti and Ariel @ Armed with a Book. I thought this sounded cool as it’s a personalised book bingo challenge with regular check-ins, book giveaways, guest posts and more! The challenge has 24 prompts that require individual books for each square (except for the book over 500 pages long, which counts for two!) and it runs throughout the year.

The sign up is open until 15 March, so if this sounds like a fun challenge to you, head on over to their page and let’s BINGO! 😃

So what’s in the bingo? My personalised card below has all the prompts:

I know my announcement is coming in pretty late into January *cough* so I’ve actually managed to already cross of four of the squares so I’m just a tiny bit closer to bingo 🤣

A book in the middle of a series
A book from the last decade (2010-2019)
A young adult novel
A dystopian novel

I still haven’t figured out the books I’m reading for all of the prompts but I do have some ideas. Part of me wants to just “wing it” and see if what I read throughout the year will fit any of the prompts, but that attitude is what caused me to bomb hard last year? So I’ve already started identifying options for some of the prompts 😅 Consider this my mostly “loose” possibility pile. Since I’m trying to cut down on spending most of these are books I already have on my shelves–though I’ma be nice to myself and allow for some of this years’ releases because I mean… I’m only human riiiiiiight? 😬

A book that’s published in 2020
An anthology or poetry collection
A book that a friend recommends
A book that has a number in the title
A fantasty/science fiction

A book by an Indie author
A book with a beautiful cover
A book you saw someone else reading
A book which was gifted/borrowed
A book longer than 500 pages (2 spaces!)

I’ll be sharing progress updates for this along with all the other challenges I’m doing this year in a monthly reading challenges recap post, so be on the look out to see if I’ve managed to cross any other boxes by the end of this month!

Are you joining this reading challenge too? What do you think of my choices? Do you have any suggestions for any of these spaces that you think I must read?

Pillow Thoughts III: Mending the Mind by Courtney Peppernell – #ARC #BookReview

Goodreads: Pillow Thoughts III: Mending the Mind
Publish Date: 06 August 2019
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Genre: Poetry
Panda Rating:

In a voice that is inclusive and open to all, Courtney Peppernell presents a tribute to her readers in the third installment of her bestselling Pillow Thoughts series.
A beautifully raw and poignant collection of poetry and prose, Pillow Thoughts III continues the series from poet Courtney Peppernell. Fix yourself a warm drink and settle into Peppernell’s words as she pens a tribute to her readers who are bravely continuing their journey from hurt to healing.

I didn’t know that Peppernell was coming out with another Pillow Thoughts book, but when I saw that the title was “mending the mind” I knew I had to read it. I love a good book of poetry and prose that I can connect with and I’ve done that with Pillow Thoughts I & II, although I connected most with Pillow Thoughts I. I still enjoyed this read though. Peppernell’s poetry/prose is simple yet effective in reaching into the hearts and minds of her readers to either give a gentle nudge or hug. There is an undercurrent of hope that runs through the words and ties them together in this book. That said, I do wish that I felt more connected to the work in this book, but there was a lot here that I felt was a little ‘recycled’ and nothing that I hadn’t heard of before.

As always though, when Peppernell speaks a thought that resonates with me, it gets me hard, and right in the heart! I teared up reading the chapter on “if your mind needs repairing” and I felt hopeful reading “if your mind needs inspiration”. I’ve been struggling a lot with my mental health over the last few months and reading some of these passages really got to me. They were a small reminder to keep going and to believe and trust that I’m much stronger than I think I am; especially for making it this far in life when every single day is a struggle.

“There is nothing beautiful
about wishing
you’d never been born
There’s nothing poetic
about believing
you are a burden
There is nothing sadder
than thinking
you’re ruining the lives
of the people you love
But there is nothing
stronger than you
I am in awe of the way you live
even with all these dark thoughts
You are brave in the way
you begin again each day”

Probably my favorite part of this book is still the illustration of the jellyfish; which is me, and you, and us. I wish that the illustrations weren’t only shown at the start of each new section, but used throughout the book! Overall, even though this didn’t end up being a favorite, I’m still glad that I read it.

Thanks to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book is now available for purchase! Have you read any of Courtney Peppernell’s Pillow Thoughts? What do you think? Let’s chat in the comments!

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini – #BookReview

Goodreads: Sea Prayer
Genre: Fiction, Poetry, Short Story, Picture Book

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.

A short but impactful read. Hosseini knows how to tug on readers’ heartstrings even in a book as short as this one! This touches upon on issue that will remain relevant in many years to come!

Sea Prayer isn’t so much a book as it is actually a heartfelt prayer. One that has undoubtedly fallen off the tongues of the countless thousands who have fled their communities, homes and families to avoid war, death and destruction, for a chance of survival in an unknown land. This story was inspired by Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy who died when his family fled across the sea. That little boy whose body washed upon the shore in 2015, and whose image was splashed across newsfeeds all over the world for months, that called desperate attention to the refugee crisis.

It’s so easy for us watching from thousands of miles away to feel sadness, frustration and despair when hearing/reading/watching the news about the war and refugee crises taking place in parts of the world the majority of us have never been to, and most likely never will. It is easy to think that we can understand the plight of these families based on what we’re fed, but really, imagining what it’s like to be forced to flee the only life you’ve known just to ensure that you and your family stay alive? That’s a different kind of fear. In this short story book filled with beautiful illustrations, Khaled Hosseini, with his ability to transport and immerse readers into foreign worlds with his words, was able to give us an idea of what the fear might be like. But he not only captures the fears, but the beautiful memories and the hopes.

“But that life, that time,
seems like a dream now,
even to me,
like some long-dissolved rumor.

First came the protests.
Then the siege.

The skies spitting bombs.

These are the things you know.” 

This is a heavy book. It literally took me 5 minutes to read this but within those 5 minutes, Hosseini was able to evoke in me feelings of hope, sorrow and despair. Of course, my eyes were no longer dry. He paints a vivid picture of a bustling city life and the war torn communities that suffer the consequences of the actions of those filled with greed, hatred and pride. Often times we become so desensitized to the news we hear every day that we forget these people who are fleeing and suffering have stories of a life just the same as you and me. They are not just a large group of people with nowhere to go. Each and every refugee that makes it across that sea is not just another number to add to the growing masses. Every refugee is human. With all the bad news that makes it to our screens every day, sometimes I think we forget that they are people who each have their own story; and this is simply one of them.

Short but impactful, this book feeds into a dialogue that will continue to be relevant for many years to come. Khalid Hosseini will donate all 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.

Have you read Sea Prayer? What did you think of it?
Leave me a comment below and let’s chat!

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo – #BookReview

Goodreads: The Poet X
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Poetry

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. 

An honest and beautiful book written in a unique format about a young woman finding herself and her place a world that tells her she’s too much or not enough through the art of spoken word poetry. Would 100% recommend listening to the audiobook while following along with the book!

This was my first time reading a novel in this format, poetry, and while it made it a really unique, enjoyable and fast read, I also felt a little disconnected to many of the characters, except Xiomara. Of course, this was her story. Her thoughts and emotions come through very strongly through Acevedo’s writing and what made me appreciate the style more was listening to it being read by the author on audiobook (which I followed along to with the physical book). The author herself is a spoken word poet and I loved that this was the something that Xiomara was so passionate about. Following Xio’s journey of finding herself through poetry, navigating first love with Aman, maintaining the close bond with her twin Xavier and her best friend Caridad, and dealing with the tumultuous relationship with her extremely pious mother was a very intimate experience.

“And I think about all the things we could be if we were never told our bodies were not built for them.” 

There are a lot of issues tackled within this story and considering it’s told in verse, I thought that they were explored well. Xiomara is a very empowering, driven and smart character who was trying so hard to find her place and where she fit in a society where she has been over sexualized and objectified, and made to feel not good enough. She has for so long let her fists do her talking for her until the day she discovers slam poetry. The way she slowly comes to understand how she sees the world, where she fits in the world, and grows to find beauty in her skin through the power of spoken word poetry is so very beautiful.

“When has anyone ever told me
I had the right to stop it all
without my knuckles, or my anger,
with just some simple words.”

That said, I found the ending quite rushed. After the big incident at her house where the story reached a very heartbreaking and infuriating climax, I thought the issues between Xio and her mother were resolved very quickly and not in a very satisfying way. I was hoping for it to be hashed out a bit more, and although we experience some of the process, it felt like a “too clean” resolution; especially when the tension and misunderstanding was so high, only for everything to be good again in a short time. Especially when this conflict between the two women was such a big part of the story. I wished we’d gotten to really see how Xiomara and her mother came to terms with their vast differences because what happened between them was big and slightly frightening. While I love a happy ending (and maybe I’m just too jaded for saying this lol) this was such a picture perfect one that it felt a little unrealistic.

“I only know that learning to believe in the power of my own words has been the most freeing experience of my life. It has brought me the most light. And isn’t that what a poem is? A lantern glowing in the dark.” 

Another thing that disappointed me just a little was that we never got to see the poem that she recited at the final show. This is just my gripe but I was so excited to read what she spoke about and I was honestly really sad that we didn’t get to experience it.

“Late into the night I write and the pages of my notebook swell from all the words I’ve pressed onto them. 
It almost feels like the more I bruise the page the quicker something inside me heals.” 

Overall though, this was a beautifully told story and I think it’s one that many young women who don’t feel comfortable in their skin, or who are still looking for a way to fit in as they are, will be able to relate to and feel empowered by. Did I mention that this was extremely quotable? I’m very keen to read more from Acevedo!

Have you read The Poet X? Loved it? Hated it? Felt ‘meh’ about it?
Leave me a comment below and let’s chat!

ARC Review: Between You and These Bones by F.D. Soul

Goodreads: Between You and these Bones
Publish Date: 14 May 2019
Genre: Poetry
Rating: ★★½☆☆☆

First of all, this cover and the title are simply beautiful. They are what made me pick up this collection in the first place because this is my first encounter with F.D. Soul, so I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book.

I wanted so much to love this poetry collection but I didn’t connect with the majority of the work. I’m not a heavy reader of poetry, I dabble here and there, so I don’t know if that was the cause of most of the words flying over my head. I did connect to some of them though; there were poems or certain lines in poems that would jump out at me and make me think “wow, this is so beautiful” and then I’d wish that I felt that way about the whole collection. Most of the ones that I connected with related to their experience of discovering love, finding home, and dealing with dark moments and fighting “that battle” (mental health, depression). I wished there was more that I connected to! The illustrations were beautiful and although there weren’t that many, I thought they illustrated the poems they were made for so well. While reading I was thinking that I could see these illustrations being made into tattoos because they’re not unlike ones I’ve already seen inked on skin. I could totally see myself getting one!

I don’t doubt that there will be many people out there who love these poems and feel connected to many of them. For me, this was a nice introduction to F.D. Soul’s work, and although I didn’t connect with many of them, I would still be curious to see what else they’ve made. I’ll definitely be checking out their social sites (@featherdownsoul).

Thanks to NetGalley, the author and Andrews McMeel Publishing for this free copy in exchange for an honest review. Are you a big fan of poetry? This collection comes out 14 May 2019, so be on the lookout if you’re curious!

#WWWWednesday: 17 April 2019

Another week, another Wednesday. I’m a bit thrown off by today because it’s a national holiday (it’s election day in Indonesia) and so after voting (for the first time in my life!) I’ve been lazing in bed with my latest read. The intensely humid heat is oppressive and makes not want to leave the comfort of my air-conditioned room, and the overall vibe is pretty much “the weekend”. Is it really still the weekday? Do I really have to go back to work tomorrow?

Anyway, back to the books! It’s WWW Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words, which means I’ll be talking about:

  1. What did you read last?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What will you read next?

What did you read last?

I finished The Dry by Jane Harper yesterday and there are no words for how much I loved it! It’s probably the most intensely atmospheric novel I’ve ever read and it’s hard to believe that this is Harper’s debut novel. The characters, the story, the setting all made this a ★★★★★ read for me. I’m writing my review for this right now so be on the lookout for that either later today or tomorrow! Also, I just found out that it’s becoming a movie and they’re casting Eric Bana to play the MC! I wonder if they’ll change Bana’s looks to fit how Aaron Falk was described in the book because I thought his unique looks were a distinguishing part of his character. I’m hoping that they do the story justice!

I read a graphic novel as a “palate cleanser” before moving onto what I’m currently reading. The Tea Dragon Society was a very short and cute story that has a simple message suitable for all audiences, including children. Making tea from the leaves that grow on a dragon’s back is a pretty unique concept and that’s definitely not the first thing I usually think of when thinking of dragons. But it’s a nice story, and the little tea dragons are SO adorable, like can has all please? I’m so lucky to have received a special edition in the February Owlcrate!

What are you currently reading?

I’ve moved on to another Jane Harper novel because I loved The Dry so much! I’m currently reading The Lost Man with a few ladies over @travelingfriendsreads hosted by Norma and Brenda of The Traveling Sisters. These ladies make group reads and discussions so much fun, I’m so excited to be doing another group read with them. I’m only a few chapters in but I’m already feeling the magnetic pull of the characters and story dragging me under and it’s such a thrilling feeling!

What will you read next?

There are actually a few ARCs that I’m hoping to read by the end of April/early May before they’re published! Yikes, I’ve been slacking a bit being so caught up in the Australian outback with Jane Harper’s irresistible characters and stories. So I think I will be picking up these ARCs after I finish my current read: Little Darlings, The Goodbye Summer, Between You and These Bones (Poetry).

What are you currently reading? If you’ve done a WWW Wednesday post, drop your link in the comments!