Mini Review: Smoke & Mirrors by Michael Faudet

smokeandmirrorsSmoke & Mirrors by Michael Faudet

My Rating: 2.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: November 14th, 2017

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 240 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Smoke & Mirrors is the third book from internationally bestselling poet Michael Faudet, author of Bitter Sweet Love and Dirty Pretty Things—both finalists in the 2016 and 2015 Goodreads Readers Choice Awards.

Michael Faudet’s latest book takes the reader on an emotionally charged journey, exploring the joys of falling madly in love and the melancholy world of the brokenhearted. Beautifully captured in poetry, prose, and short stories, Faudet’s whimsical and sometimes erotic writing has captured the hearts and minds of thousands of readers from around the world.

____________________________________________________________

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Smoke & Mirrors was just one of those collections that did not click with me. The quality of writing and the messages being conveyed were not completely lost on me. The poems were generally comprehendible, and I was able to immerse myself in the work enough to get through to the end—but that was about it. At times, Faudet’s style was quite off-putting, and that caused a massive disconnect for me and blocked out any important ideas and themes. I found nothing really stood out, nothing touched me or had the impact that the author clearly intended his writing to have.

This collection as a whole does not seem like it would be easily accessible to a wide variety of readers. To me, these poems were not very poetic. The poems that had more of that proclaimed “whimsy” to them were the ones that I enjoyed the most. There were displays of love, heartbreak, happiness, and loss. These poems spoke to me—they were subjects I could connect to—and he phrased these topics in a beautiful way. Through the very beginning of this collected work, I felt much more engaged.

But then, many of the other poems in the next two thirds or so seemed very rough and graphic, taking away any lyrical aspects of the writing. Part way through the collection, the subject matter shifts abruptly into much more mature topics, which in itself is not an issue at all—poetry deals with all sorts of topics, from basic emotions to the more intimate aspects of life. The trouble I had was with the way he worded these things. I just found myself feeling uncomfortable, sometimes verging on disgusted. Again though, this is my personal opinion—definitely not a reflection of how everything comes across to every reader.

I read many positive reviews of Faudet’s work prior to picking this collection up, and I can see how his subject matter and use of language would appeal to some people. His subject matter and voice are, like most poets, very singular and attract different types of readers. This particularly came across as a very niche style—the way he portrays his thoughts and feelings is very unique and very direct. However, his writing was just not for me, and I don’t think I will be picking up any of his other collections in the future.

2.5 TARDISes

logo2

Mini Review: Songs With Our Eyes Closed by Tyler Kent White

songswithoureyesclosedSongs With Our Eyes Closed by Tyler Kent White

My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: January 30th, 2018

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 192 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: A collection of Tyler Kent White’s powerful poems about love, loss, depression, and resilience. “Never apologize for burning too brightly, or for collapsing into yourself every night. That is how galaxies are made.” – Tyler Kent White

Many of the poems included here are short and uplifting, with messages such as “be yourself,” “you are beautiful,” and “this too shall pass.” They combine the appeal of short, shareable poems with inspiration and encouragement. Also included are some of White’s lengthier, prose-poetic pieces, which address his childhood, his relationship with his father, and past romantic relationships, among other things. Whatever the form, White takes inspiration from the everyday, writing about abstract topics like love, loss, depression, and resilience using concrete, relatable details and scenes.

____________________________________________________________

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

I found this poetry collection to be beautiful and extremely well written. Songs With Our Eyes Closed is another example of a recently very popular style of writing—short but impactful poetry and prose. This is a format where a positive outcome is hard to accomplish, and it is definitely not a format that suites the tastes of all readers nor the abilities and voices of all poets. And it’s very true that this type of writing can easily come across as shallow, random, and repetitive. However, I find that this can also be an incredibly powerful and meaningful way to convey many emotions—that was definitely the case for this particular collection.

White’s writing is full of both beauty and sincerity. Even the shortest poems always feel that they were given an equal amount of time. effort, and detail, and did not lack the emotional depth and maturity of longer poems. He shows a great deal of candor as well as creativity, mixing human emotions with vivid and artistic imagery taken from our world and the universe we live in.

White packs this collection with plenty of affirmations, calling us to look at ourselves in a different and more loving way. The language and topics themselves are easily accessible for anyone, whether they are poetry lovers or not—it could also serve as a fantastic introduction into the world of poetry for a first time reader.

As always, poetry is hard to review as it is such a personal experience, and what I took away from this collection is not what everyone is going to take away. However, this is a very well-written work that skillfully captures truly human emotions that each and every one of us has felt or will feel at some point in our lives, ranging from the joy of love to the pain of loss. His words really spoke to me and related so well to where I am in my life and what I have been feeling, whether those words were reflecting my emotions or pushing me into a more positive mindset.

It is very touching and brimming with honesty and earnestness—never feeling rushed or lacking complexity, even in the most straightforward phrases. White has a very lyrical style that flows effortlessly from line to line and is very pleasant to read. I would highly recommend giving this collection a try.

5.0 TARDISes

logo2

Mini Review: Algedonic by r.h. Sin

algedonicAlgedonic by r.h. Sin

My Rating: 4.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: December 12th, 2017

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 128 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Bestselling poet r.h. Sin, author of the Whiskey, Words, & a Shovel series, presents a poetry collection that illuminates the transformative power of emotional pain. 

Algedonic is an aesthetic outlook on pain and pleasure. Complex emotions simplified into poetic interludes as only r.h. Sin can express. With his trademark of giving simplicity to some of the hardest of emotions, Sin reminds us all that there are often two sides to an emotional story and sometimes the pain transforms into something beautiful, something less problematic and maybe something that reignites a feeling of pleasure.

____________________________________________________________

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This was my first experience with r.h. Sin’s poetry, though I have heard many people raving about his work for quite some time now. And I must say, I was not disappointed in the least. This particular collection follows what has become a very popular style lately—short poems or phrases that pack a big emotional punch. While it can be quite a risky way to format poetry, as it ends up being extremely hit or miss depending on the audience, it can also be a very powerful and thought-provoking reading experience.

Even though I am a huge fan of longer poems that I can analyze to death, I have actually found myself really captivated by this style lately, and this collection is no exception. I found Sin’s writing to be incredibly beautiful. This is a short but sweet collection that is perfect for anyone, whether they are new to poetry or already well-versed. The themes presented in every bit of text are relatable—utterly human—and exceedingly poignant.

Sin’s ability to pare down complex and, at times, confusing feelings, both positive and negative, really shines through. He shows that it is possible to capture the vastness of human emotion in the smallest of spaces. His words make you think about how we are not as alone as we may feel—that we are all intrinsically linked by common experiences of pain and pleasure. He reminds us to step back and focus on the beauty of life and the light in the darkest times. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection and look forward to exploring more of his work in the future.

4.5 TARDISes

logo2

Mini Review: Cheer Up, Jay Ritchie by Jay Ritchie

cheerupjayritchieCheer Up, Jay Ritchie by Jay Ritchie

My Rating: 1/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: October 10th, 2017

Publisher: Coach House Books

Pages: 96 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: “Charming, funny, and often elegant. This is a formidable collection.” —Ben Fama 

With an alternating sense of wonder and detachment, Jay Ritchie’s first full-length collection of poetry grapples with death, disappointment, love, alienation, and emails—the large and small subjects of daily life. His unflagging sense of humor and aphoristic delivery create a work that is personable yet elevated, witty, and honest.

____________________________________________________________

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

I’ve been reviewing a lot of poetry recently, so I will start off with my usual disclaimer—poetry is an incredibly personal experience that is unique to each reader, and it is extremely hard to review. What works for someone might not for another, and unfortunately, I happen to fall in the latter category for this particular collection. And from what I’ve been seeing, I have the less common feelings about this work, though I do believe that this is one of those very hit or miss type situations. Don’t get me wrong, I can definitely see the poetic talent of Ritchie, however, his choppy and random writing style did not flow very well with me.

To be honest—and this is a little embarrassing to admit—I had a hard and sometimes impossible time actually understanding just what Ritchie was writing about. His poems were somehow simultaneously humorous and fun to read, but also unintelligible. They were well written and interesting for what they were, but I failed to find much meaning in any of them, therefore making it very hard for me to connect with this collection. Again, this is just my personal experience with Ritchie’s poetry—it will not be the same as everyone’s, and my view on it may have been affected by many factors, including my mindset while reading it. It was a very quick read and, as always, I recommend giving it a go and experiencing his work for yourself.

1.0 TARDIS

logo2

Mini Review: The Road Between by Courtney Peppernell

theroadbetweenThe Road Between by Courtney Peppernell

My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: August 29th, 2017

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 288 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: The Road Between is poetry well-lived.

Poetry for the soul that walks the fine line between losing yourself in the world and finding yourself again, often in the smallest of moments. Courtney Peppernell is the bestselling author of Pillow Thoughts, a collection of poetry and prose about heartbreak, love, and emotion.

Make a cup of tea, find your place, and lose yourself in the pages.

____________________________________________________________

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

Courtney Peppernell has quickly become one of my new favorite authors. This was yet another beautiful collection that truly spoke to me. Peppernell has a great talent for creating short and deceptively simple poetry that has a much deeper underlying meaning. Her striking prose flows perfectly, and each line packs a strong emotional punch. This particular collection is about the journeys that life presents all of us. Specifically, these poems deal with the process of finding yourself again after becoming separated from it along the way—how we have to carefully piece ourselves back together until we feel whole.

The theme of finding oneself is something that, at this time in my life, really speaks to me. I’ve definitely been taking this exact journey over the last few years, feeling like I had lost touch with myself and trying to figure out who I am and what I need in my life. I’ve been feeling a deep need to settle into and truly come to terms with every aspect of myself. It’s this sort of work that I can connect to very easily—that makes me feel more confident in who I’ve discovered that I am and what love means to me. Peppernell’s words are wonderfully profound and they deeply touched me.

I always think it’s fantastic to see more LGBT+ work coming into the the literary world. Even though many of the poems that focus on love deal with a romance between two women, I believe these poems will speak to anyone, no matter their orientation and how they love. Love is love—it is a universal subject that can touch the hearts and souls of all of us. I’ve already gone ahead and purchased her two novels and I absolutely can’t wait to read more of her work.

5.0 TARDISes

logo2

Mini Review: A Candle From The Far East by Y.T. Kim

acandlefromthefareastA Candle From The Far East by Y.T. Kim

My Rating: 2/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: October 3rd, 2017

Publisher: Mill City Press

Pages: 114 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads

Synopsis: In his first collection of English poems, Korean writer Young-Tae Kim (Y.T. Kim) presents a remarkable anthology of work with themes ranging from political musings on an international scale to living well in an increasingly global world. Kim offers a unique blend of the modern and traditional, as overtones of the poet’s Eastern cultural roots permeate each page.

In addition to musings on present-day society, A Candle from the Far East (Poems) offers reflections on more emotional themes—such as the growth of deep and profound love, alienation of once close friendships over time, and finding purpose through spiritual growth—culminating in a beautifully rich collection of works that have universal applicability. The end result is a collection that readers will turn to time and time again and one that successfully shares wisdom and contributes to the well-being of all.

____________________________________________________________

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

While I can appreciate the themes and meanings Kim tried to convey through his poetry, I personally did not get caught up in his writing. There were only a small number of poems that really resonated for me. This collection ranges from reflections on Kim’s personal life to commentary on history, modern technology, and the current state of our society and the world as a whole. Even though these are all interesting topics, there were many poems that felt less like poetry and more like reading a textbook or list of facts—this took away from the fluidity of the writing.

The poems that focused on history or his more intimate thoughts on his own experiences spoke to me the most. The history aspect, as well as the wonderful photographs that accompanied it, really caught my attention. In just small snippets of text, I felt that I learned a lot of new information I hadn’t come across before. His short reflections on his own life were the most poetic of the collection. Kim created beautiful snapshots of his view of the world around him as well as his relationships with family and friends. Again, the placement of pictures coinciding with these poems really brought his meaning to life.

As for the actual writing itself, apart from a few select instances, I found the overall flow of these poems to be quite rough and choppy. There were some attempts at rhyming that really did not come across well and ended up being a detriment to the piece. There were many occasions where I felt as if I were reading a list of facts rather than poetry, so many of the poems were quite stilted. The moments where he focused on subjects like A.I. just did not come across like poetry in my opinion, and I found myself skimming through these.

Of course, poetry is always subjective, and my personal experience is going to be unique to me. Therefore, I still encourage you to check out this collection if it appeals to you. Kim’s talent is obvious, and I’m sure his poetry will touch the lives of readers for whom the depth of the work is more easily accessible than it was for me.

2.0 TARDISes

logo2

Mini Review: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

milkandhoneyMilk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

My Rating: 3/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: November 4th, 2014

Publisher: Createspace

Pages: 204 pages

Source: Library

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Milk and Honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.

____________________________________________________________

This is a spoiler-free review.

Milk and Honey is a collection that has me finding difficulty in pinpointing my feelings about it. I think part of this is due to the hype surrounding this collection—it didn’t quite live up to my expectations based on reviews I had seen floating about. However, it was far from disappointing at the same time, leaving me feeling a bit lukewarm about it as a whole. These poems started out very strong and immediately captivated me. Kaur’s writing style was beautiful and poignant, and she displayed quite a bit of candor throughout. I definitely felt the most connection to and impact from the opening sections.

However, the strong start did not last until the end of the work. For me, I began to like each part less and less, and this caused me to become quite detached from the poems by the end of the collection. I think this is where I began to feel a decrease in the fluidity of the writing as well—some parts came across as a bit jumbled and choppy. Though her intended message retained its power, the disjointedness was a bit off-putting. Nevertheless, I can see why Kaur’s writing has touched so many people’s lives.

These poems display a lot of bravery and boldness—they unflinchingly tackle tough yet important topics. Journeying deep into the core of humanity, Kaur delves into dark topics in a very heartfelt way. Though it fell a little bit flat for me in the end, I truly do appreciate the beauty in her words and the impact of the messages she is conveying to the reader. Overall, I would definitely recommend giving this collection a try, and see if and how it speaks to you.

3.0 TARDISes

logo2