Book review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray 

A couple of weeks ago, I finished Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. I am however just now getting around to the actual review part of the whole process. I heard about this book from a random text post on tumblr and thought I would give it a try. The premise is a group of beauty pageant contestants crash onto a seemingly deserted island, and have to survive until, or if, help ever arrives. So like The Lord of the Flies but with way more interesting characters and circumstances. 

Beauty Queens starts off wild, and ends wild. It’s an adventure from beginning to end, and it’s just really, really fun. That’s what I loved most about this book. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, while still presenting honest and genuine characters. Even characters I found myself indifferent too, towards the end of the book I really found myself loving and appreciating. I’m looking at you, Taylor. 
Taylor is presented as gunslinging, blonde haired, blue eyed, Miss Texas Teen Dreamer. She eats, sleeps, and breathes Miss Teen Dream. She is the leader of the pack. She’s resourceful, she passionate, and at her core, she really does want the best for the survivors of the crash. 

What’s remarkable about Taylor is that she’s presented as a hard to like character, an overdrawn stereotype even, but by the end of the book, you genuinely care about her and her story. 

Now, let’s talk endings. I try to be as spoiler free as possible and I’ll continue that trend now. Generally, it ended pretty neatly and positively. There are a few things that I wish were wrapped up a little better and not left so ambiguously but all/all I was satisfied. I honestly really enjoyed this book. It was a quick, fun read. 4/5 stars for me. If you enjoy satire, or just need a break from the normal, I think you’ll really find a place with this book. I highly recommend it. 

At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson review 

It’s Spring Break! Which is pretty exciting, even though I’m definitely working pretty much everyday over break. I get to sleep in though! Which is pretty exciting. 

So! On to the fun stuff. I think enough time has passed so that I can talk about how much I really really loved At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson. Earlier this year, I read We Are the Ants also by him and decided to embark on a 1-person mission dedicated to reading everything he’s ever written, because I loved it that much. 

Hutchinson does this incredible thing with his characters that makes them so real and tangible. In At the Edge of the Universe, we follow Ozzie who has woke up in a world where he is the only one who remembers his best friend and boyfriend Tommy. And oh- the universe is shrinking. We’re introduced to a wealth of characters and each of them are well rounded and developed, you get to know them all so well. 

This book also deals with mental illness and it deals with it honestly, no sugar-coating it or making it seem glamorous. It’s something that’s very important to me, so I love and appreciate how well handled it is in all of his books, especially this one! 

At the Edge of the Universe is such an honestly good book. Great characters, great plot, twists to the very end. 5/5 stars. If you haven’t, I highly recommend you read this and his other books! You will not regret it. 

February Wrap Up 

Every year, February feels like a dream. Nothing significant ever happens to me in February. I can’t tell if it’s because of the short month, the weird weather, or if Feb is really just doomed to be forever a placeholder month. This month has been pretty boring but kind of productive. I did read a lot of good books, though. In this post, I’m going to: quickly wrap up the books that I didn’t post a review for, touch on how I did with my goals, and reflect on this month as a whole. Let’s jump in. 

Book Wrap Up 

There are a couple of books I read that I didn’t write full reviews for, for whatever reason, or I wrote reviews for but didn’t post them, for whatever. First up is, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. 

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan follows the life of Lily and her friend Snow Flower. They are a pair of laotongs, an emotional match that last through their lifetime. The book follows the pair through childhood, arranged marriages, pregnancies, and other major life events. It’s told from the perspective of Lily. 

I really enjoyed this book. This was my first contact with the footbinding so I learned a lot about that. This book it mostly about the importance of communication and how platonic love is just as important as romantic love, which are both concepts I support and can get behind 100%. I give this book 3/5 stars. 

Next up is Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. 

 Homegoing is able to expertly define characters in short periods of time. We get such a rich view of a vast family history. There’s never a point of confusion. There’s even a family tree included before the first chapter even begins. Even though each character only gets one chapter, the author still managers to fully introduce and really flush these characters out and it’s amazing to experience. 

This book was an amazing experience and an amazing story. It makes you wonder about your own family and wonder where you come from, what intricacies have been lost down generations, and what things have stood the test of time. I loved the concept and I thought it was expertly executed. There were times where I wanted more time with certain characters, where my heart broke for certain circumstances. Overall, 5/5 stars. Read this book. 

Favorite books this month 

  • What Lies Between Us by Nayomi Munaweera 
  • Missing You, Metropolis by Gary Jackson 
  • How to be Happy by Eleanor Davis 
  • Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward 

Goal Wrap Up 

  • 2/4 5ks ran, I lost steam and energy halfway through, honestly. It’s been weird. 
  • 5/10lbs lost 
  • More fruits and veggies ate! 
  • Book reviews for all the books I finished posted 
  • More water drank 
  • Daily writing in gratitude journal 
  • Exciting exciting exciting 

That’s all I have for you, February. It’s been weird. In a few moments, I’ll begin working on my March goals post. I wanted to make them seperate posts this month because I wanted March to stand on its own. Partly because it’s my favorite month and I have high hopes for it every year. How did you do for your February goals? 

The Rose That Grew From Concrete, Review 

“U say that u’ll love me forever but what about todayAs the dusks becomes dawns and the years pass on will u love me the same way” is an excerpt from “The Rose That Grew From Concrete” by Tupac Amaru Shakur, the collection of poetry I’m reviewing this post. 

This is a relatively short collection. I love the way it is put together, with the handwritten poems on the left hand side and the typed copy on the right side. The handwritten poems often feature cool drawings and illustrations. It’s also just neat to read poetry in the original way that it is written. 

This collection has several themes, the largest of them love. Love of self, platonic love, romantic love, familial love, love of country, etc. It deals with the idea of having more than one great love of your life. It deals with struggling with fame. It deals with struggling with infidelity. Towards the end, it does get political which I love because I feel like we’re getting an honest look at all the different parts that made Tupac up. 

My favorite of the political poems is “The Unanswerable?” 

“QUESTION: 

WHEN WILL THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH? 

ANSWER: WHEN THE EARTH FALLS TO PIECES!!” 

4/5 stars for me. If you’re looking for something raw and vibrant, this is the book for you. 

Joint Book Review: Graphic Novels 

Currently watching Penn State play Michigan State, while cooking dinner. Happy Friday, void. It’s been a rough week but I’ve read some really great books. Circle of life, right? The ones in this post are graphic novels! I’ve been reading a lot of them lately since I read Giant Days. The four in this post are: 

  • Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash 
  • How to be Happy by Eleanor Davis 
  • Exits by Daryl Seitchik 
  • Lucille by Ludociv Debeurme 

Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash 

Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash is a graphic memoir, which off the bat is the coolest concept ever. It follows the story of Maggie at an extremely Christian all-girls camp, her first love, who was another camper, and her first heartbreak. 

I loved this book. It’s very honest. There are times where I laughed out loud and there are times where I found my heart clenching. I found it very relatable. Overall, I really really enjoyed it. 4/5 stars. 

How to be Happy by Eleanor Davis 

How to be Happy was weird. It’s a collection of comics centered around the theme ‘how to be happy’. I found some really deep and interesting. I found other head tilting-ly weird. All of them were beautiful. Overall, completely moving. 

The first comic, Adam and Eve, is probably one of my favorite throughout the whole book. There are a few that I wished were longer, even by just a few panels. This book gets a 4/5 stars from me. What a pleasant 45 minutes to be honest. 

Exits by Daryl Seitchik 

Exits is like that fever dream you have that you can’t wake you from or make sense of but isn’t quite as terrifying as a nightmare. In fact, you might even venture to call it pleasant. In that sense, I found it to be a very interesting and refreshing story. Kinda weird, though. That might be the theme of the post at this point. 3/5 stars! 

Lucille by Ludociv Debeurme 

Lucille was a story that I didn’t know anything about before going in, so everything about its plot and characters were new to be me. I found this book to be odd but charming in being so. Vlad was my favorite character, I was really pulling for him at all points of the narrative. I could really relate to Lucille, even at her most frustrating. I wonder what’s next for them. I know there’s a part two, but there’s not yet an English version. 3/5 stars for me. 

And just like that, there’s another four reviews I can add to the mental tally I am totally not keeping. I am currently reading… nothing, wow, I know, but I have some pretty cool books lined up! What’s your favorite read of the week? 

Book Review: Weight by Jeanette Winterson

This is the sixth and final review from the Weekend Bulk Reviews. If you have made it through all six, I am eternally grateful and want to be your friend. If this is your first or you’ve only read a few, I still am eternally grateful and want to be your friend.

Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles by Jeanette Winterson is about the myth of Atlas and Heracles. Atlas for reasons is charged with holding the weight of the world, Heracles for reasons needs Atlas to grab some apples for him so he takes the weight of the world for a while. I’ve said before mythology is one of my favorite subjects to read about so I was readily drawn into this book based solely on the subject.

I found Winterson’s Heracles to be one that I’ve not really encountered before. I found him immensely self interested and absorbed and I could see how it made up his intentions and decisions. She also painted Atlas in a way that I had never thought of. He was very caring and careful with the world and his punishment, and it was not just something that was thrown upon him. Overall, I thought it was a refreshing look at this story. I had never heard it told this way and I liked it a lot. The beginning and end had some vague narrative plots that were confusing and I’m unsure what purpose they served, but overall the story was very enjoyable. 3/5 stars for me.

Book Review: Missing You, Metropolis by Gary Jackson

Next up is Missing You, Metropolis which is a collection of poems which, if you couldn’t tell by the title, strongly center around comics, superheroes, and the lives of the people who love them.

I absolutely adored this collection. I almost want to drop the mic and leave it there, making you all go out and read it for yourself, but I’ll talk more.

This collection tells several stories. It tells the story of a young man who loves comics and grows up in Kansas and his friends. It tells the stories of superheroes. It tells the stories of the people who loves these superheroes. It even tells the stories of the ones we like to call the villains. They are not all nice stories. But here is the truth: they are all honest stories. And they are worth listening to. Read this book. Five out of five stars.

I want to real quick post an excerpt from a poem that really struck me “The Dilemma of Lois Lane.”

“Sometimes,

when we’re alone at home,

fixing dinner, you’ll pretend

to wince when you cut yourself,

and I find myself hoping

that the tiniest drop of blood

will bloom on your finger.”

Read this book.