Reviews: Through the Eyes of a Lost Boy by Edward Bonner and Quiet Girl in a Noisy World by Debbie Tung

throughtheeyesofalostboyThrough the Eyes of a Lost Boy by Ed Bonner

My Rating: 3.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: August 29th, 2017

Publisher: eTreasures Publishing LLC

Pages: 165 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis: Dedicated to all who believe and imagine.

Collection of poetry about:

Love

Loss

Trauma and Pain

Healing

A journey through the eyes of a young boy to adulthood

The book introduces a new look of being exposed

Someone willing not to hide behind a tree

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

This was a decent collection of poetry. Edward Bonner has compiled poems that encompass every aspect of his life so far, from childhood up until his current age. Recently, I’ve been extremely interested in more personal poetry that chronicles various events in the writer’s life, and this was a fairly enjoyable one. It was intriguing to see Bonner reflect on all the aspects of his life that shaped him into who he is today. As the collection progresses, he picks apart and comes to term with many of his most intense emotions and the pain of a rough childhood.

You get the sense that Bonner is conveying an understanding that he has gathered through the years—he is finally able to properly comprehend and express the feelings he could not as a child. The collection as a whole truly makes you feel the incredible mental and emotional journey Bonner has gone through since he was a young boy, and that makes his words very poignant. Each poem flows into the next, giving it a very story-like quality. With a kind and intelligent voice, Bonner takes his readers on a ride that is both heartbreaking and heartwarming.

3.5 TARDISes

quietgirlinanoisyworldQuiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story by Debbie Tung

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: November 7th, 2017

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 177 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Sweet, funny, and quietly poignant, Debbie Tung’s comics reveal the ups and downs of coming of age as an introvert.

This illustrated gift book of short comics illuminates author Debbie Tung’s experience as an introvert in an extrovert’s world. Presented in a loose narrative style that can be read front to back or dipped into at one’s leisure, the book spans three years of Debbie’s life, from the end of college to the present day. In these early years of adulthood, Debbie slowly but finally discovers there is a name for her lifelong need to be alone: she’s an introvert. 

The first half of the book traces Debbie’s final year in college: socializing with peers, dating, falling in love (with an extrovert!), moving in, getting married, meeting new people, and simply trying to fit in. The second half looks at her life after graduation: finding a job, learning to live with her new husband, trying to understand social obligations when it comes to the in-laws, and navigating office life. Ultimately, Quiet Girl sends a positive, pro-introvert message: our heroine learns to embrace her introversion and finds ways to thrive in the world while fulfilling her need for quiet.

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

This was a very humorous, adorably drawn, and highly relatable collections of vignettes on the struggles of growing up as an introvert in an extroverted world. The overall concepts and feelings are not anything new to comics and graphic novels, and in this way, it might come off as a little repetitive. At the same time, however, everything in this collection is made much more unique due to the focus on Tung’s own personal experiences as well as by her wonderful art style. Through each individual comic, we follow Tung in the years after college as she learns to navigate being an adult while also accommodating her introverted nature.

As a majorly introverted young adult myself, I had absolutely no trouble identifying with many of these situations and emotions. Tung portrays everything perfectly to the point where you feel like this book is written for and about you. The art is magnificent and enhances the reading experience and the message Tung is conveying. Overall, this is a very warm and touching book that sends a great message—it’s all right to be an introvert! This is a very heartwarming and funny read that I believe will be extremely easy for a lot of readers to connect with.

4.0 TARDISes

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Review: Planting Gardens in Graves by r.h. Sin

plantinggardensingravesPlanting Gardens in Graves by r.h. Sin

My Rating: 1.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: February 6th, 2018

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 272 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: From the beloved author of Whiskey, Words, and a Shovel comes the first volume in an all new series.

r.h. Sin returns with a force in Planting Gardens in Gravesa powerful collection of poetry that hones in on the themes dearest to his readers. This original volume celebrates connection, mourns heartbreak, and above all, empowers its readers to seek the love they deserve.

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

My r.h. Sin saga continues. After reading A Beautiful Composition of Broken, things went even more downhill when it came to this particular collection. It started off well enough, with short but sweet, impactful poetry. Each poem had the nice flow and depth that he has always showed, and the way he words everything is beautiful. There were even a few poems that touched on very different topics than the rest—some of the most powerful ones being about his own experiences with other types of love than romantic. However, every other poem was exactly the same as what he usually writes, thus making it feel like all of his collections are identical.

This time around, the style of short but powerful lines did not work in his favor. Many of the poems felt incredibly choppy and forced, like he had cut off each line at random rather than with a specific purpose. There was a sizable loss of depth due to the way that was carried out. Another strike against the collection for me that ties into this was how much subtlety he lacked when it came to conveying the messages in certain parts of his work. This stripped away anything poetic about those poems and, therefore, they lost their emotional impact. This is entirely personal, but some even felt rather crude to me.

Once again, he remains stuck on pretty much the same topic for the entire collection, each poem feeling like a differently worded version of the others. And while his focus on the strength of women is nice to see in literature, he simultaneously portrays men as being horrible and himself as being the only one worthy of being with a woman. I appreciate the feminism he is trying for and, of course, love the fact that it is becoming more prevalent in the literary world. But what I in general will never appreciate is anything that lifts any group of people higher than another—that is not what feminism is about or how equality is achieved.

Overall, the majority of this collection unfortunately failed to accomplish what I believe he was trying to. Speaking as a woman, sometimes his poems are affirming, but after awhile, I began to feel like he was treating us like we are possessions rather than humans. I believe Sin has a talent for writing beautiful poetry, but that does not come across as well when he refuses to diversify his subject matter. The few poems that touched on love that isn’t romantic were wonderful and refreshing. In the future, it would be great to see him focus more on that, even aspects of his life and more personal experiences.

1.5 TARDISes

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Mini Review: A Beautiful Composition of Broken by r.h. Sin

abeautifulcompositionofbrokenA Beautiful Composition of Broken by r.h. Sin

My Rating: 3/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: July 25th, 2017

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 480 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: r.h. Sin, bestselling author of the Whiskey, Words & a Shovel series, returns with a collection of poetry and prose meant to remind the wounded that they are, in fact, beautiful in a way society may never comprehend.

A Beautiful Composition of Broken is inspired by some of the events expressed artistically by Samantha King in the bestseller Born to Love, Cursed to Feel. It serves as a poetic documentary of the lives of people who have been mistreated, misunderstood, and wrongfully labeled in a way that limits them in this world. The author’s most personal volume yet, A Beautiful Composition of Broken builds a conceptual bridge between r.h. Sin’s earliest work and his forthcoming series, Planting Gardens in Graves.

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

I am so conflicted over this collection of poetry. Having enjoyed the previous two collections of r.h. Sin’s work that I’ve read, I really wanted to love this one. And at first, I was once again pulled in by his words. Unfortunately, my expectations were a bit too high, and I ended up feeling very disappointed by this collection as a whole. The quality writing that I have come to expect from Sin is definitely there, but the power and impact of his words is severely lacking.

The biggest issue that I have with this compilation is how incredibly repetitive it is. At the very beginning, the poems are deceptively unique. They are extremely reminiscent of his previous works, but not so much that they are completely uninteresting to read. However, it quickly goes downhill, as each poem begins to feel like the last—variations of the same exact story. Nothing is inherently bad about the poems themselves—they are still well-written—but the ideas and themes in them repeat to the point of monotony.

This collection feels very much like it is made up of cookie cutter poetry instead of many distinct pieces that come together to form a unified work. Everything ties together, but this is due to the fact that each piece comes across like it is the same exact poem articulated in a different way. It sucks out all of the emotion in the message he is trying to convey through his words, and things begin to feel forced. The poems start feeling cheesy rather than meaningful, and they take on an unappealing hollowness.

There are still plenty of redeemable qualities about r.h. Sin’s poetry, particularly the general beauty of his words. With his talent, I feel as though he could easily do so much better than this. If he varied his topics, even staying within the theme of love, betrayal, and eventual empowerment, this would have been a much more interesting and impactful reading experience. This has caused me to lose some enthusiasm about reading Sin’s work, but I will still be giving some of his other collections a try.

3.0 TARDISes

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Mini Review: Rest in the Mourning by r.h. Sin

33275462Rest in the Mourning by r.h. Sin

My Rating: 3.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: December 6th, 2016

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 128 pages

Source: Purchased

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: The calm before and after the storm. Rest in the Mourning is a steady and profound stream of conscious thoughts and emotion. Documenting unhealthy relationships and why the heart ends up in the hands of those deemed unworthy. It speaks to the heart’s ability to hold on to relationships that no longer deserve our energy as well as what happens when we are ready to let go. Rest in the Mourning is about self-care and self-love.

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This is the second collection of Sin’s poetry that I’ve read and, like Algedonic, I enjoyed it quite a bit. It is formatted in the ever more prevalent style of writing very short poems or simple phrases rather than longer, multiple stanza poetry that most people are used to. It is a particularly tricky style to write well, as that type of poetry can come across as disjointed or shallow more easily than longer poems. However, when it is done well, it can be surprisingly powerful and touching. Though it did not captivate me in the way that Algedonic did, I still had a rather positive experience with Rest in the Mourning.

I have spoken in my other review about r.h. Sin’s talent for writing, and that shines through once again in this collection. His main focus is on the strength of women, but this still makes for a universally relatable read due to his beautiful writing and depiction of the common highs and lows of life. Sin knows how to simplify what can be very complex emotions, and the message he conveys is that of affirmation and strength. Just like the first experience I had with his work, I felt that he did a nice job of focusing on every human’s power to heal themselves in the midst or aftermath of hardship.

However, this collection, compared to his last, was not very unique. Every poem focuses either on women—or, less frequently, on himself—finding their true worth, and removing themselves from toxic relationships. There is nothing inherently wrong with the topic, but I feel that there needs to be some sort of variation, however small. You can still connect your topics together in some way to give the collection as a whole one theme, but I found none of that here. So while the way he worded things was beautiful, overall, every poem felt a little repetitive. I am still interested in reading more of his work, so I definitely will continue to do so.

3.5 TARDISes

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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.

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*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

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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.

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*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

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Mini Review: Algedonic by r.h. Sin

algedonicAlgedonic by r.h. Sin

My Rating: 4/5 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.

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*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.

4.0 TARDISes

 

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