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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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text 2018-04-01 05:35
March Reading
The Lost Plot - Genevieve Cogman
Endurance: My Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery - Scott Kelly
Nelvana of the Northern Lights - Adrian Dingle
Medicine Walk - Richard Wagamese,Tom Stechschulte
The Prey of Gods - Nicky Drayden
Out Standing in the Field: A Memoir by Canada's First Female Infantry Officer - Sandra Perron
City of Light, City of Poison: Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris - Holly Tucker
Ester and Ruzya: How My Grandmothers Survived Hitler's War and Stalin's Peace - Masha Gessen
Lavinia - Ursula K. Le Guin
Penric's Fox - Lois McMaster Bujold

Fourteen Books Read:

The Lost Plot - Genevieve Cogman 

Endurance: My Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery - Scott Kelly 

Nelvana of the Northern Lights - Adrian Dingle 

Medicine Walk - Richard Wagamese

Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters - Dick Winters, Cole C. Kingseed 

The Prey of Gods - Nicky Drayden 

Out Standing in the Field: A Memoir by Canada's First Female Infantry Officer - Sandra Perron 

Place to Belong - Claire Boston 

City of Light, City of Poison: Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris - Holly Tucker

Ester and Ruzya: How My Grandmothers Survived Hitler's War and Stalin's Peace - Masha Gessen 

The Girls in the Picture: A Novel - Melanie Benjamin (DNF)

Lavinia - Ursula K. Le Guin

The Covert Captain: Or, A Marriage of Equals - Jeannelle M. Ferreira (DNF)

Penric's Fox - Lois McMaster Bujold  

 

Women Writers Bingo: 10/25

(Personal take: Finish 25 books by new-to-me female authors in 2018*)

Finished in March: Nicky Drayden, Sandra Perron, Claire Boston, Holly Tucker, Masha Gessen**

 

Gender Balance:

Fiction: 7 by women, 2 by men, 0 by non-binary

Non fiction: 3 by women, 2 by men, 0 by non-binary

 

Format:

Paper books that I own: 1

Paper books from library: 4

E-books that I own: 2

E-books from library: 1

Audiobooks that I own: 5

Audiobooks from the library: 1

 

March Goals:

Read two Hugo nominated novels and all of the short stories.

 

*Women Writers Bingo Bonus Points:

5 of those books in translation: 1/5

5 of those books are non-fiction: 4/5 (Warmth of other Suns, Out Standing in the Field, City of Light, Ester and Ruzya)

 

Bingo Companion Round:

5 books by non-binary authors: 0/5

 

**As per this essay, I'm not completely sure about listing Masha Gessen under female authors, but it seems at the moment the best option.

 

Previous months:

January Reading

February Reading

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review 2018-03-04 23:07
Workmanlike writing, fascinating life.
Endurance: My Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery - Scott Kelly

I have found Scott Kelly a lot more engaging in interviews than he was in this book, which could get a little plodding at times, but I still enjoyed it for the most part. It's certainly the most detailed and emotionally-open description of the long-duration missions on the International Space Station. (Alternating chapters were about his childhood, military career, and other NASA missions both as a space shuttle pilot and on the ISS.)

 

Unlike Mike Massimino, I would never describe Kelly as the happiest man in space. Even though he talked a lot about what he liked about his work and why, a lot of the book focused on the difficulty, deprivation, and tedium that comes with spending months and months away from life on earth, often with just two other people. NASA deliberately ran that man through the wringer to see what happened, and it doesn't seem to have been an entirely enjoyable experience, either physically or psychologically. The crap this man willingly put himself through through to further the science behind space exploration is flat out heroic.

 

I'm making it sound like this book was a drag, and it wasn't entirely. It was on a certain level good to read a book that wasn't 100% WOW SPACE! Kelly was more willing to criticise NASA and Roscosmos when he felt like they're letting the astronauts and cosmonauts down, which was a nice change, and felt more honest. He did seem to have liked his work, (most of) his co-workers, and being in space on a general level (when the toilet and the CO2 scrubbers were both working). He also seemed to be naturally a little more of an Eeyore than either Hadfield or Massimino, I think part of that being his military background, and part of it being a general outlook on life.

 

I would totally recommend this if you're looking for what's going on with the space program in the past few years, but if you're looking for something more fun, and frankly better written, I'd point to Massimino or Hadfield.

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text 2018-02-27 19:21
Why Mucca's always worrying about library books
On the Shores of Darkness, There Is Light: A Novel - Cordelia Strube
Endurance: My Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery - Scott Kelly
Ester and Ruzya: How My Grandmothers Survived Hitler's War and Stalin's Peace - Masha Gessen
The Clothesline Swing - Ahmad Danny Ramadan
Out Standing in the Field: A Memoir by Canada's First Female Infantry Officer - Sandra Perron
The Prey of Gods - Nicky Drayden
Lavinia - Ursula K. Le Guin
White Houses - Amy Bloom
The Boat People - Sharon Bala

Currently checked out:

On the Shores of Darkness, There Is Light: A Novel - Cordelia Strube  (DUE 12 March)

 

*Endurance: My Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery - Scott Kelly  (DUE 12 March)

 

Ester and Ruzya: How My Grandmothers Survived Hitler's War and Stalin's Peace - Masha Gessen  (DUE 12 March)

 

*The Clothesline Swing - Ahmad Danny Ramadan  (DUE 23 March)

 

*Out Standing in the Field: A Memoir by Canada's First Female Infantry Officer - Sandra Perron  (DUE 23 March)

 

*The Prey of Gods - Nicky Drayden  (DUE 3 April)

 

On active hold:

Lavinia - Ursula K. Le Guin (1 of 2 in holds)

*White Houses - Amy Bloom  (6 of 8 in holds)

*The Boat People - Sharon Bala  (18 of 178 in holds)

 

*Newish books that likely can't be renewed.

 

I froze and deleted a bunch of holds, and am not ordering anything else until I get this situation down to something less panic inducing. I'm not completely sure how this happened. I think a lot of things ticked out of hold at once, causing a pile up.

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