Book Review: “American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin”

Book nineteen of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Terrance Hayes’s American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin

To give you a bit of background for this collection of sonnets, Hayes wrote them during the first 200 days of Donald Trump’s presidency. Each poem is titled ‘American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin’ hence the name of the collection.

Each poem has its own unique story and meaning and sheds light on how Hayes interprets what has occurred during the presidency. I found each poem to be very detailed and very well put together. I am not a political person by any means. I learn what I need to know and I leave it at that.

I can’t say whether or not I’d recommend this collection of poems because even though I enjoyed the deep meaning and poetic writings I’m not sure how others would feel about the interpretation.

So this review is going to be short and sweet.

Stay tuned for the next review: The Silver Chair, book six in the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I promise this will be the next book review. I know I’ve been reading it for a while now but I am still determined to finish the entire series.

Book Review: “Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered”

Book eighteen of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark’s Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered

If you are a fellow murderino and haven’t read this book yet, you need to go out right now, buy the book and dive into it. Right now. This is not a drill.

If you have no idea what a murderino is, then this book, and subsequent review, might not be for you. In that case, I suggest you go to wherever you listen to podcasts and start ‘My Favorite Murder‘ which is categorized as a True-Crime Comedy podcast that will forever change your perspective on murder. It’s a fantastic podcast that I discovered about a year ago and have become (minorly) obsessed with. This book is a dual autobiography from the podcast queens behind ‘My Favorite Murder’, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark.

I never thought I would be a fan of biographies but after reading two in the past seven months (the first was Anna Kendrick’s Scrappy Little Nobody) I can say that they are worth the read. A large portion of published biographies are from people that have become famous in one way or another and so my first impression was always that the stories they were going to tell were only going to be about how famous they were and how fame has been the best thing to happen to them, blah, blah, blah. So far though, I’ve been proven wrong.

I’d say that my favorite part about biographies and this dual one in particular are that they are so real and genuine in their stories and experiences and it’s refreshing. There is a lot of vulnerability when it comes to writing your own biography and usually the writer is selective in the stories they tell. If a writer decides to tell a story that is extremely personal they usually leave out a few details or make it a short story. Karen and Georgia didn’t follow this model. They let it all out and I loved it.

Their stories followed a less than traditional style because it was an autobiography for two people rather than one. Instead of starting at the beginning of their lives and following a timeline, they chose specific lessons that they had learned and both wrote about their experiences respectively. The chosen theme or lesson of the chapter was broken down with two different experiences (one from Karen and one from Georgia) that helped me realize that even if you don’t have the same background as someone else, it doesn’t mean that you haven’t had to learn the same things and usually the hard way. And that hard way can be unique to the individual. It truly melded together the two authors lives’ pre-podcast.

One thing that I expected was that there would be a lot of stories from the post-podcast conception year and how the podcast has changed their lives, but there were very few tidbits about that time. A lot of the stories came from growing up, becoming an adult and living as an adult who has no idea what they are doing in their lives. Those stories are what really drew me in and kept me reading.

Plus who doesn’t love honest, no bullshit chapter titles like “Buy Your Own Shit” and “Fuck Politeness”. All the chapter titles are quotes from their podcast and they truly encapsulate some wonderful life lessons while tying back into the podcast.

And truly all those life lessons ultimately tie back to ‘The Definitive How-To Guide‘ portion of the book title. Staying sexy is important because who doesn’t feel on top of the world when they feel sexy? And the not getting murdered part is simple: there are a lot of situations in life when you are getting murdered in a “not-actually-dying” way. I know I’ve definitely used the “that test murdered me” exaggeration a time or two. Life can be murderous and sometimes you just need a little insight from someone else to know that it’s not the real end.

Having people that have your back and can understand your mood swings and quirks can be so much more help than you realize. Kilgariff and Hardstark’s honestly about this and not being afraid to ask for help got me thinking a lot about how I can help myself. Their openness about seeing a therapist both in this book and on their podcast really shows that it’s okay to see someone and I think a lot of people need to see and hear about those experiences because having that type of outlet really can make a difference in someone’s life. The general honesty and openness in this book was what made it so relatable and I loved every page of it.

Now if you thought that this book was going to get gruesome about some actual murders, you’ll be disappointed. But if you are someone who enjoys honest advice given from two women who have seen quite a bit in their lives, then this is definitely the book for you. With both of those things being said, if you have not listened to ‘My Favorite Murder’ then you need to check it out first. That way you get the gruesome murders you were probably hoping for in this book and then you can understand the handful of inside jokes that you might not get if you’ve never heard Kilgariff and Hardstark on the podcast.

A must read for all murderinos and please, please, please check out ‘My Favorite Murder’ wherever you listen to podcasts.

Stay tuned for the next review, it will be either: The Silver Chair, book six in the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis or American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin by Terrance Hayes.

Book Review: “Fierce Fairytales”

Book seventeen of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Nikita Gill’s Fierce Fairytales: Poems & Stories to Stir Your Soul

Keeping with the poetry theme, I decided to put a couple of books of poetry on hold at the library and of course all three came at once and I’m loving reading them all. This particular book is the best of both worlds because it includes both poems and short stories.

Gill’s take on classic fairytales is unique and gives the meaning to the stories a whole new perspective. I honestly couldn’t put this book down because I wanted to keep reading the different adaptations of the stories I’ve know since I was a child.

The interpretation of each story wasn’t just different from the classic tale. It told the story with elements of today’s societal flaws in between the lines. A lot of modern poetry has deeper meaning and tells a story that many can relate to and these certainly did. I found the poem below in particular to be very powerful.

If you ever want to have
a look at the way a word
can totally demean and destroy
the entire worth and value of a woman
just look at what the word ‘ugly’
did to Cinderella’s two stepsisters.

Two Misunderstood Stepsisters

Even though there are only a few words in the poem it talks about something millions of women can relate to. It also speaks on a historical literary level. Almost every young girl has read, been read or seen the classic fairy tales so isn’t it possible that the literature we read to entertain and excite creativity also perpetrates a sense of demeaning oneself? It’s certainly something to ponder.

This book of poetry was not only a fantastic read, but also encouraged a new way of thinking about the classic tales we all loved as children. I highly recommend the collection to anyone that loves poetry, short stories and the classics. And I encourage those of you that read the book to think a bit more about the stories’ meaning.

Stay tuned for the next review: Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by podcast queens Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark.

Book Review: “The Princess Saves Herself in This One”

Book sixteen of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Amanda Lovelace’s The Princess Saves Herself in This One

I’ve been trying to get into poetry more because there’s just something about reading exactly how you feel in words that you would have never chosen to use. I love reading books and escaping to another world, but poetry keeps you in your own world and usually says so much with only a few carefully put together words.

If you’ve been keeping up with some of my other book reviews you’ll know that I read both Rupi Kaur’s poetry books and fell in love with her writing. It was the connection I made with her poetry that I really enjoyed. When a piece of writing is relatable it’s more interesting to read. Lovelace’s writing wasn’t that of Kaur’s, but both developed that relation. The poets have different styles (as most should in my opinion) but they both had powerful poems that told similar stories and had impactful meaning.

One of the poems for this book that I found so powerful summarized a feeling that’s hard for most to describe and did so with only 16 words. The style of writing that Lovelace uses in this poem, and the entire collection, is unique and I really enjoyed it.

A review of The Princess Saves Herself in This One on Goodreads criticized the multiple lines of single words and how it wasn’t considered poetry and “anyone can do it”. I disagree. I think poetry isn’t just about the words written on a page. There’s a style choice when it comes to the layout of those words. It gives the poem itself character and I think this style for Lovelace’s collection in this book is spot on for the character and message of the poems themselves.

I truly enjoyed reading this book and will certainly look into some of the author’s other collections. Lovelace’s style is short and sweet but packs a lot of emotion which is the best aspect of poetry. If you haven’t dipped your toe into the poetry pool I suggest you do. It’s usually a quick read but gives you perspective on how others are interpreting things you are also experiencing.

Stay tuned for the next review. I’ve been jumping around reading a few books, which I don’t do often so it could be any of these: Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by podcast queens Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark; The Silver Chair, book six in the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis; Fierce Fairytales by Nikita Gill; or American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin by Terrance Hayes.