Review: Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

“The fuck is your life. Answer it.”

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I am exhausted. And yet, I feel lighter, somehow, after reading it.

This book is one of a multitude of tiny beautiful things in this world. It should be carried around in bags, lunch boxes, and back pockets. It made me think a lot about my ghosts and monsters and questions and decisions. It made me bawl my eyes out – although some chapters squeezed my heart dry more than the others did.

I was a mess of rainbows before reading it, and I still am after doing so. But I feel like I have someone who understands deeply, who isn’t afraid about calling me out on my shit, and who is kind and generous with stories and words that are truer than true. Sugar is that friend, and I feel a little bit better knowing that this beautiful book exists in this universe.

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Review: Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Last week was grueling, but I managed to get some reading done during stolen moments.

Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli was dark and gritty and riveting. It touched on Bruce Wayne’s tortured humanity, and showed Gotham City as a horrifying hellhole. But it’s not just about Batman’s story—it’s about Jim Gordon’s as well. Gordon is one of my favorite supporting characters in comic books, because he’s such a decent person and he tries so damn hard to do the right thing. In Year One, we see him struggle as a good cop in a city ran by scoundrels. He rises to the occasion and takes action because no one else will. Batman: Year One shows the parallels between these two flawed and conflicted individuals, and I just really want to give each of them a massive hug.

Speaking of brilliant graphic novels, House of M by Brian Michael Bendis and Olivier Coipel was fucking fantastic. Wanda Maximoff’s mind voodoo is scary as fuck. It also made me ecstatic about Avengers: Age of Ultron and AKA Jessica Jones.

In other news, my Civil War reading mission got off to a great start, and I finished the first 19 titles on the list. I still have a long way to go, but I’m determined to go through with it. I also managed to squeeze in Runaways, Vol. 3: The Good Die Young by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona, but I don’t think I’ll be continuing with the series.

I still haven’t finished Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things, and it’s mostly because I don’t want to devour it in one sitting. She writes beautifully and with so much honesty, and my fragile heart needs to come up for air every once in a while.

Anyhoo, on my TBR pile are The Once and Future King by T.H. White (Kubi’s copy is having tea and scones with the rest of the unread books on my shelf), and Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. The latter is included in my reading list for the Eclectic Reader Challenge, which I’m trying to accomplish this year.

Two more books that I’m excited about reading in the future are Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life and Claire Fuller’s Our Endless Numbered Days. I know I won’t be able to read them this week, because LIFE, but I hope I’ll get the chance to do so.

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All for now, lads and lassies. Happy reading!

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It’s Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It’s a fun way to keep track of current reads and to find out what other people have been reading.

There is a linky thing at the end of the post, so go forth, visit new reading blogs, and add to your to-read list!

monday reads

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Kubi’s March in reading

Terry Pratchett died. I cried silently in bed, wrapped in blankets and the early morning haze. I sent a text message to my oldest friend, who shares a love of Discworld with her father. We talked about how Sir Terry passed and I thought of an old blog post I’d written about him and Neil Gaiman. Later that week, I bought his non-fiction collection A Slip of the Keyboard, wanting to hang on to more of his words.

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I read the rest of Lev Grossman’s Magicians Trilogy, which made me think about my own growing pains. The second of the series, The Magician King, marked my return to reading after the desert that was February. I realized long ago that fantasy novels help me regain my reading mojo. The heft of these tomes anchor my wandering attention span, preparing me for the relatively long-term (in this day and age) commitment of finishing a book.

Lev Grossman gets under my skin but good. http://goo.gl/eAs6Ds #vscocam #vsco #reading #books #magicians

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After Magicians, I read Astragal by Albertine Sarrazin. Sarrazin was a French-Algerian writer, a storm of a woman who wrote two novels while serving time for armed robbery. Astragal is about a prison break and all the hiding that ensues. A young woman named Anne escapes prison by climbing over the compound’s wall and, in the process, falls and breaks her ankle – the astragalus bone. She meets a kindred spirit named Julien who helps her and the two fall in love. Patti Smith wrote the foreword to this new reprint of the novel, saying how Albertine and “her luminous eyes led [Smith] through the darkness of her youth.” So it was that I came to read Smith’s Just Kids, the story of her life with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe in New York City around the late 60’s and 70’s. The prose was an absolute delight, poetic but not too flowery, honest but somehow still nostalgic. One reviewer remarks on how Smith managed to maintain an air of innocence throughout the memoir and I agree. They were, after all, just kids.

Hustlers and helions #vscocam #igreads #reading #books

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So, all for now wombats. I’m looking forward to the promise of summer reading. I’ve got the rest of the Outlander series to work on for the next couple of months (Happy Outlander Day!), as well as a few essay and short story collections. What are your summer reading plans?

Kubi’s March in reading

Review: The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen

Stephen King wasn’t kidding about this book.

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The illustrations are beautiful, and the story is compelling. I underlined the bejeezus out of it, and adorned it with blue sticky flags.

T.S. Spivet is my favorite kind of human bean, and I just want to hug him and eat Honey Nut Cheerios with him. The marginalia still makes me weep with glee, but it was the ending that cut me from all angles.

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It felt like the universe conspired to have me read this book at this particular moment, just when I needed it the most. It articulated my fears and anxieties, and illustrated the strange inner workings of my brain. It understood. But most of all, it inspired and touched me in a way that no other piece of literature has done in a while.

This book is a gift to this world.

This was a post by Hanna, who still misses people and places and cake.

Review: The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen

Review: Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art by Christopher Moore

“Well thanks loads, Chris, now you’ve ruined art for everyone.”

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Christopher Moore’s Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art is a “dark little fairy tale of the color blue” that takes the reader on a wild, metaphysical romp through 19th century Paris in its artistic prime. It is a deliciously demented supernatural murder mystery revolving around art, the artists and their muses, and a particular shade of blue.

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(Quick aside: His Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is my favorite, although I kept picturing him as John Leguizamo in Moulin Rouge as I read.)

As in all things Moore, Sacré Bleu is funny, bawdy, and certifiably nuts. But it is also a meticulously researched and intelligently written book, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

The signed first edition is also a thing of beauty and a work of art in itself, which makes it a delightful read and a glorious feast for the senses.

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This was a post by Hanna, who misses people and places and cake.

Review: Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art by Christopher Moore

Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Holy haberdashery, Batman!

This was an unbefuckinglievably spectacular book that drew me in from the first sentence until that perfect last line.

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Vicious tells the tale of two highly intelligent friends turned nemeses, a science experiment gone horribly awry, the carnage that ensued soon after, and the choices they made to come to terms with their altered lives.

It delves straight into the heart of darkness, and culminates in the ultimate standoff between the hero and the villain. (But who is the hero and who is the villain?)

Everything about this book is excellent – from the plot to the pacing to every carefully constructed sentence. But what’s most impressive about Vicious is that it is populated by complex and immensely flawed characters. Nobody is completely good or completely evil in this story. Every single one is a poor unfortunate soul, but the difference lies in how they choose to fight their own battles. (Also, there is a special place in my heart for Mitchell Turner and his fondness for chocolate milk.)

Vicious was deliciously twisted, and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into another rollicking good read from V.E. Schwab.

This was a post by Hanna, who is impatiently waiting for Sunday.

Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Review: Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba

I just went all the way through Daytripper, and am now sitting with the intensity of emotions brought forth by reading this unbefuckinglievably brilliant graphic novel from Brazilian wonder twins Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba.

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It opens with a plink of a water drop – just a hint of a cloudburst to come.

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It provides a window into pivotal moments in the life of Bras de Oliva Domingos, an obituary writer for a local newspaper. He picked up the habit of smoking from his mother and inherited the passion for painting with words from his father. For years he has been struggling to discover his own voice as an author. Soon he finds himself keeping up with mundane work and writing about death, when all he wanted to do was write about life.

In many ways, his story is no different from yours or mine and therein lies its brilliance. This book is a rumination on the beauty of life and the inevitability of death. It encourages its reader to seize the day and see the beauty in the mundane without being contrived or cliche. It allows the reader to examine his or her own relationships and explore life’s biggest questions while traipsing alongside Bras, who is basically doing the same thing.

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At times surreal and so real, this book ruined me in the best of ways.

Upon opening the book, I was left in awe by the breathtaking illustrations. Upon reading it, I was rendered catatonic by the sheer poetry of it all.

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Take away the coffee and cigarettes and in many ways, I am like Bras; a dreamer, a wanderer, a daytripper.

Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba managed to convey a moving and thought-provoking story told through a series of quiet moments, unexpected surprises, and infinite possibilities.

(How could they have known? How could they have encapsulated my entire life in just ten issues?)

I’m not going to lie: by the end of this book, my ribcage was just about ready to burst open. Daytripper touched on my greatest fears and essentially opened a Pandora’s box of old wounds, terrifying monsters, and nightmares that haunt me still.

The hour after I closed the book was mostly spent bawling my eyes out while thinking and re-evaluating my life. Reading it was a cathartic experience, and it is one that I highly recommend.

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At the end of Daytripper, Fabio Moon wrote:

We wanted that feeling that life was happening right there, in front of every one of us, and we were living it. And we did. And sometimes, we die to prove that we lived.

In many ways, the story of Bras de Oliva Domingos is no different from yours or mine. I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together in the pursuit of dreams and a life worth living.

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READ THIS BOOK.

This was a post by Hanna, who needs a pint of nightmare ice cream. Continue reading “Review: Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba”

Review: Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba

Currently Reading: Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos

It’s been pretty quiet around here, but we promise that we have been reading!

January has been good to me in terms of finding fantastic books. At Kubi’s behest, I read Carol Rifka Brunt’s brilliant Tell the Wolves I’m Home earlier this month and I was deeply moved by it.

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I had to read it slowly because I wanted to savor the sentences. It felt like leafing through pages of my journal except the entries were written in beautiful prose. Reading this book was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made so far this year, and I have my partner-in-reading to thank for that. I have no coherent thoughts yet, but I’m hoping that soon I’ll be able to articulate my unmitigated adoration for this book.

Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets

Honestly, I decided to read Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos because I’m a sucker for brilliant titles and beautiful book covers. I wasn’t expecting a clever and funny read but that’s what this book is. I’m reading only a few chapters at a time and so far, I am thoroughly enjoying the protagonist’s Whitmanization of the world.

This was a post by Hanna, who is listening to Elvis Costello to drown out the Monday blues.

Currently Reading: Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos