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review 2018-04-17 18:29
How to awaken the heart: an instruction manual
How to Love the Empty Air - Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

My pals over at Wunderkind PR sent me a copy of today's book and asked that I give an honest review. Spoiler alert: I said yes. :-)

 

How to Love the Empty Air by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz is a collection of poetry which primarily focuses on her relationship with her mother (also a writer) and the grief she experienced after her death. Please don't think it's all doom and gloom and buckets of tears (although there is that too) because she also delves into the pockets of happiness that can be found amidst the overwhelming sadness of losing someone so dear. Cristin speaks to that part of the heart that is attuned to the people in our lives who get us so completely that even the idea that they might not be there pulls the air from one's lungs. From her poem "O Laughter" comes this gem: Sometimes the pain bursts out of me like a flock of starlings. Perfection! If I had to express this book in graph form it would be a steep incline immediately followed by a steep decline and finished off with a steady incline that disappears off the side of the page. Simply put, this is an absolutely lovely little book with beautiful prose and if it doesn't stir your heart I wonder if you even have one. 10/10

 

PS I'd also like to note that 1. I loved the finish on this book. It's like that velvety feeling that some books have and it was an absolute treat to hold it. 2. I enjoyed Cristin's book so much that I'm actively looking to read her other works (including a nonfiction book).

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-04-09 18:31
Starting National Poetry Month with a bang
Citizen: An American Lyric - Claudia Rankine

I'm cognizant of the fact that I don't read enough books by women of color and that I read very few works of poetry. I decided to kill two birds with one stone by reading Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric. (Also, it's National Poetry Month so it was a no-brainer.) This book is especially relevant right now with the state of our world being what it is: a shambles. Citizen is essentially Claudia's exploration of what it is to be a black woman living in America as told through poetic verse. It is beautiful, tender, terrible, tragic, and real. She doesn't shy away from such topics as police brutality or the prevalence of feeling like an outsider. This book is a personal revelation and a public admonishment all rolled into one neat package Coupled with her verses are historical quotes and pencil drawn (I think?) artwork. What better way to begin your foray into poetry than by reading a book that challenges the status quo and speaks from the heart? If you'd like to maybe see the world through a different set of eyes Citizen is your golden ticket with many stops along the way. 9/10

 

I made a note of this quote on page 89 to give you an idea of just how powerful her words are:

 

Those years of and before me and my brothers, the years of passage, plantation, migration, of Jim Crow segregation, of poverty, inner cities, profiling, of one in three, two jobs, boy, hey boy, each a felony, accumulate into the hours inside our lives where we are all caught hanging, the rope inside us, the tree inside us, its roots our limbs, a throat sliced through and where we open our mouth to speak, blossoms, o blossoms, no place coming out, brother, dear brother, that kind of blue.

 

What's Up Next: From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty

 

What I'm Currently Reading: The American Way of Death Revisited by Jessica Mitford

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-04-02 18:44
I guess that's one way to go into business for yourself
The Last Black Unicorn - Tiffany Haddish

The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish is part memoir and part uplifting 'anyone can succeed' comedy. It was quite an interesting experience reading this on the heels of I've Got This Round as both are funny slice of life books by hilarious women. The main difference is that I felt more of a connection to Tiffany and honestly I think my own life story would read similarly. Tiffany faced a lot of challenges during her childhood but those challenges are what molded her into the strong adult that she is today. *cue dramatic music* (My story would have a lot less booze and sex for sure.) If you're bothered by books that are heavy on the vernacular combined with coarse language then I'm afraid this isn't the book for you. If you like reading about women who made it big despite the odds being stacked against them then it's your lucky day. The Last Black Unicorn has definitely made me want to watch her stand-up routine. In fact, it was her book promo on Trevor Noah's show that enticed me to pick up the book. I'm glad that I did. :-) From sending poorly written love notes to her school crush to pimping out the 'other woman' Tiffany has had a compelling life story that if nothing else will take you out of your own life for the hours you spend reading it. (I bet it's an absolute scream as an audiobook.) 9/10

 

A/N: It was at the end that I realized this was written by a ghost writer. I know that's common but I felt that it was necessary to make you aware just in case that was a no-no for any of you. This is essentially why it lost a point...and the overuse of vernacular didn't help either.

 

What's Up Next: Gorillas in the Mist by Dr. Dian Fossey

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Life and Love from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-03-30 16:06
Comedy is the best and dating apps are the worst
I've Got This Round: More Tales of Debauchery - Mamrie Hart

I've Got This Round: More Tales of Debauchery by Mamrie Hart was just what I needed after the last couple of books. Without realizing it, I desperately required a fresh dose of humor and Mamrie's voice in particular pulls one out of their own funk and reminds them that life should be fun. If you want to read a book by someone who feels like they are in your corner and rooting you on then you are in the right place. She has inspired/reminded me to continue to live authentically and for me. Also, I should travel more. Like a LOT more. If you've never heard of Mamrie I highly recommend you do two things: Watch her YouTube channels and read her first book. After you've done those two things you'll have a better understanding of just what you're getting into by diving into her second book which focuses less on the distant past and more on living in the moment. In I've Got This Round Mamrie set out to make moments that could be turned into a book and she succeeded with flying colors. She tests out a dating app which I had never heard about before and then I heard about it again the week after I finished reading this. (It's called Raya and I think it's for celebs. Full disclosure: I never researched it.) She goes on crazy trips with friends where everything is planned last minute and insane things happen. Some of the stuff that happened was so surprising that I literally looked up from the page and stared into space for several minutes. (I so badly want to tell you which things I'm talking about but I don't want to ruin it for you.) I have no idea how someone can consume the amount of alcohol that Mamrie does and still function as a normal human. It does make for hilarious content though so...worth it? This is a fun read that still manages to have a lot of heart. If you enjoyed You Deserve a Drink (the book and/or her YouTube show) then you will undoubtedly love its sequel. 10/10

 

What's Up Next: The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Death of a Hollow Man by Caroline Graham

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-03-03 01:06
Poor execution
Mine own executioner, - Nigel Balchin

I have to confess that I did a thing which I am always telling people they shouldn't guilt themselves into doing...I read a book that I wasn't really all that interested in reading. My rationale was that I had gone out of my way (interlibrary loan from a different state) to get this book and I didn't want to admit that it wasn't worth the effort. *sigh* 

 

The book that I'm referring to is Mine Own Executioner by Nigel Balchin. I want to give you a central theme or something to succinctly explain it but the closest I can manage is saying that it's about a man who is battling an inner turmoil while also trying to be a competent psycho-analyst. There's a lot of discussion around the validity of a medical degree vs hands-on training which leads to our main character, Felix Milne, taking on a very difficult case to 'prove' that he is just as capable as a medical professional. His patient was recently involved in a traumatic experience in the war and as a result he experienced a psychotic break from reality and tried to murder his wife. While Milne tries to uncover the root of this man's troubles he continues to ignore the cause of his own marital problems. He has a strained and virtually platonic relationship with his wife and actively struggles with his feelings for her best friend. I guess there's an irony there that he is able to ascertain and ultimately help heal what ails his patients but he can't clearly see that he is the cause of his own misfortunes and unhappiness. Milne is an acerbic and not altogether likable character who plays God with those he seeks to help (and his wife). He justifies this by saying that it's a necessary part of their treatment that they come to see him this way. I don't think I can say with any conviction that I liked this book. The characters were one dimensional, the plot was fairly predictable, and the ending was highly unsatisfactory. I can't even say that I recommend it to ________ or ________. 0/10

 

PS They made it into a film. Why?

 

What's Up Next: Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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