Tag Archives: reading

milk and honey review

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I usually don’t read poetry, but when I saw milk and honey by Rupi Kaur at the bookstore, a book that everyone has seen via Instagram and Tumblr, I decided to purchase it and see what all the fuss was about.  

This might not deem me a good reader of poetry, but I got through the book within a day. The poems were short and sweet (sometimes), simply stating the Kaur’s feelings on paper, alongside minimalistic sketches by the poet. The book itself is divided into four sections: “the hurting,” “the loving,” “the breaking,” and “the healing.”

Earlier this school year, I was saw the book on the bedside table of my dorm’s RA.  I asked her if it was any good and she said, “I only read it when I’m sad.” After reading the poetry book, I could understand why she would. Kaur lays out the highs and lows of her life on the pages and many of the things she describes in her poems, young women can relate to.

In “the hurting”, Kaur wrote about sexual assault, family struggles and things a young girl might face while growing up.  In my opinion, it was the saddest one out of the four chapter and not uplifting in the slightest, which made it all more raw and vulnerable.  My favorite from this section goes as follows:

“She was a rose
In the hands of those
Who had no intention
Of keeping her”

The next section, “the loving”, is more uplifting, but the reader can tell it will take a turn for the worse due to the title of the next chapter.  This section reminded me of my first love and how it made me feel, so this was the chapter I probably related to the most.  This section I believe is the sweetest of them all and the “honey”, so to speak.  Out of all of the sections, the poems from this chapter are the ones I would most likely want to post on social media, due to how idealistic they are.

“You look like you smell of
Honey and no pain
Let me have a taste of that”

“The breaking” was returns the reader to a depressing side of the novel as it Kaur writes about the breaking up with her long-term relationship. I could relate to this chapter as well, after I dealt with a nasty breakup.  Luckily, though, I got over it, and so did Kaur.  

“You mustn’t have to
Make them want you
They must want you themselves”

The last section of Kaur’s book of poems, “the healing,” is probably the most inspirational and empowering.  It tells women to embrace themselves, their femininity and heritage, and to love themselves always before loving another.  This chapter reminds women that we are stronger than we know, to respect ourselves, and not worry about what the boys think.

“You must enter a relationship
With yourself
Before anyone else”

Overall, I thought this book of poems was a good read and I would recommend it to anyone who might have gone through a rough break up.  

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Love, Amber

Sweetbitter review

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Fast paced, dramatic, hard, and true.  Those are the words that I would use to describe Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler.  If you were to mix Beat poetry with Crank and a dash of Gossip Girl, this book would be the byproduct.

This coming-of-age novel gripped me and I read it within three days.  The novel chronicles the life of Tess, a millennial who landed a job at a prestigious restaurant in NYC after running away from home, all by batting her eyes.  The restaurant, which is based on the Union Square Cafe, is filled with secret dramas which the unfortunate heroin stumbles upon and eventually becomes a part of.

Tess falls in love with the bartender, Jake, who has an odd relationship with the senior server, Simone.  Tess tries to develop a taste for wine and learns about the trade through Simone, all the while becoming closer to Jake.  After hours, the staff at the restaurant go to Park Bar, a dive bar, where they drink and snort cocaine into oblivion.  Addiction settles, in more ways than one, and Tess is free falling down in a harsh and cruel rabbit hole that she eventually has to crawl out of.  

The book itself is split up into the four seasons and sweet is turned into bitter.  Poem-styled recollections of lines dropped in conversations between staff members are scattered throughout the book: “It’s true, Chef called him a faggot.” “If one more bitch cuts me off to ask for Chardonnay–.” “And after I took the LSAT, I was like, wait, I don’t want to be a lawyer.” “But it smells like garbage and Fernet in there.”

Working in the “serving” industry, per se, I believe this book is spot on.  Servers in restaurants are no longer lesser-than those they serve, but on the same level, more or less.  They are those going to college, in college, or just graduated.  They know where the food is coming from, they have a system all of their own working behind-the-scenes, and have developed a palate all on their own.  They know what they want in life and still have the gumption and eagerness to get it.  Once a job performed by “degenerates” is now a highly coveted job performed by young white women paving a career path for themselves.  

But there is one thing the so-called “degenerates” and white youth have in common: we still drink and party too hard for our own good. “When I woke up again it was to a sunset I didn’t deserve,” the narrator said.  “I moved my neck first, craned it, looking down.  My jeans were on. My Converse were off, but my ankle socks were on, evidence of an outside presence.  I didn’t remember getting to my bed or to my apartment.  I sat up a bit more…There was a note safety-pinned to my shirt: ‘Please text me so I know you’re alive, Your Roommate, Jesse.’”  

The plot of a coked-out girl falling too hard for a guy that is no good for her may sound like it would become boring at parts, but the fact of the matter is, Danler writes so well and so truthfully, that the basic plot line can be excused.  Her writing doesn’t miss a beatt and can be described as sensory overload.  After the first chapter, I believed this work was Beat poetry in novel format. The sentences are brief, but powerful, with a few descriptive lists that make your mind wander.  For example: “BITTER: always a bit unanticipated. Coffee, chocolate, rosemary, citrus rinds, wine.  Once, when we were wild, it told us about poison. The mouth still hesitates at each new encounter.  We urge it forward, say, Adapt.  Now, enjoy it.”

Although Tess can be a Bella Swan of a character at points, nevertheless, I rooted for her, even in her desperate attempt to win the affections of the bad-boy bartender.  I suppose I knew it would end badly for her, but I rooted for her all the same.  

Before signing off, I have to mention that Sweetbitter is becoming a Starz show, backed by Brad Pitt.  The cast has already been selected and it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing previews for it.  I do not have a Starz account but I think I might cave and purchase one just to watch this series.  Perhaps when the show finally does come out I’ll do a review on that. Let me know what you think in the comments below and if you want more book reviews, please subscribe to my blog!

Bookshelf Sunday: Bright Lights Paris

Bright Lights Paris, is written by Angie Niles, who is a fashion publicist and brand consultant.  May I also add that she is a friend of Blake Lively, one of my beauty and fashion icons.  According to the cover, this book is supposed to help you “shop, dine, and live…Parisian style.” Did it? Yes and no.

The majority of the book is a guide to the local hot spots of the different arrondissements of Paris, showing you how all of the different girls from each of the 12 arrondissements live their day-to-day life, including where they shop, dine and where they go to get away from the hustle and bustle of Paris.  So, in that aspect, it does not teach you how to live like a Parisian, but is a list of recommendations on where to go if you ever find yourself in Paris.  

But, there are some bits scattered throughout the book that tell you how you can bring some Parisian style into your everyday life and how to get a taste of Paris from home.  These included different skin care products Parisian women use, recipes from Parisian chefs, and how you can decorate your home…Parisian style, of course.  It was these parts of the book I enjoyed the much, as I have the realistic mindset of knowing that I will probably not be able to go to Paris for quite some time in my life.  Perhaps when I’m out of college will I ever go to the city of lights.  

Also, the different graphics on each of the chapter pages are super cute and please my aesthetic…I know, I can go home now.  

Overall, I enjoyed this book.  Being a gal who obsesses over Paris (despite me never being there), this book was right up my alley.  Needless to say, I loved this book and I would recommend it to any girl that is as obsessed with the idea of living the Parisian life.  As the Parisians like to say, c’est sympa.  

A Clash of Kings review and differences in the show

***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***

This past year I’ve been getting into Game of Thrones and the A Song of Ice and Fire book series.  In the summer I finished the first book, and now I have finished the second book, A Clash of Kings, which is quite reminiscent of the Cousins War/the War of the Roses in medieval England.  As soon as I read the first book, I was reminded of this time in history and little did I know at the time, that the author, George R.R. Martin, was actually inspired by the war.

I knew and read about the War of the Roses years before I began reading GoT, as I’m a history buff when it comes to medieval England (fun fact: I worked as a pub wench at a Renaissance Festival. I know, classy).  This particular point in history I found quite interesting due to how scheming and lust for power ended up making cousins fight against one another in deadly battles and led terrible war crimes, including the slaughter of young children (read up on the princes in the tower; it’s quite an interesting story!). I could talk for ages about the War of the Roses and the Tudor dynasty, but I won’t bore you all with my odd obsession.  Although the first book, Game of Thrones, resembled the War of the Roses, I believe A Clash of Kings resembled the War even more so.  

Brother fights against brother in the book and everyone from the north to the south, and east to the west, believe they have a stake to the Iron Throne.  Deception and ambition are what drive the story, as Westeros soon begins to be divided again.  I believe I loved this book more so than the first as we got to see the inner-workings behind each King and how they went forward trying to make their claim.  

I particularly was interested in the character Tyrion, and how he went on keeping King’s Landing under Lannister control despite all odds.  Tyrion was not wanted by his sister, Cersei, or by his nephew, King Joffrey, but his father, who Tyrion thought despised him, made it possible for Tyrion to become King’s Hand.  Tyrion used his knowledge and mindful prowess to stop King’s Landing from falling and kept his head on his shoulders the entire time.  Every chapter in the perspective of Tyrion was very well written and kept me interested.  I am not saying all of the other chapters were trash, but I suppose they just didn’t interest me as much.  

Surprisingly, there weren’t as many chapters in the perspective of Daenerys, who takes up a lot of screen time in the show.  She is a much beloved character, and rightfully so, but I believe her character did not grow as much in this book, but character development was focused on the other characters (Tyrion, Theon, Arya, Bran and Jon in particular). For the majority of the book, Daenerys is just trying to get men and ships to bring her to Westeros.  Ironically, she can be seen as a “Beggar Queen” in this book, much like her brother Viserys, was called the “Beggar King”, as she’s just asking for men and ships from others who have more power than her.  I believe her dragons could just be seen as tools in this book to make Daenerys appear more powerful.

I enjoyed seeing new characters added to the chapter perspective list in this book, including the characters of Davos and Theon Greyjoy.  Davos was just used as a tool to show the readers a “behind the scenes” look of what Stannis Baratheon is doing to make his claim for the Iron Throne, including his use of the Red Priestess to get what he wants.  The character of Theon Greyjoy was annoying as usual, but it was interesting to see why Theon does the things he does as well as where he came from and family background.  

You may be curious to know if I have watched the show or not, and my answer? Yes and no.  I am not caught up to the most recent episode and I don’t plan to be for quite some time.  On the GoT wikia website, they show which chapters are in each episode, and I’ve been reading the chapters before watching each episode.  It takes time, but for me it’s worth it because I’m able to enjoy the episode a bit more and am able to see the differences between the books and the show.  

There are a lot of chronological differences between the book and the show, but that’s understandable.  There are some differences between the scenes and how they play out, but everything ends the same way.  One difference that kind of annoyed me is the fact that Theon killed Ser Rodrik in the show, right in front of Bran and his brother, through a botched execution.  In the books, Ser Rodrik simply died in battle, and by that time, Bran and his brother had hidden themselves in the crypts.  Although Theon is definitely an annoying asshole of a character, I don’t believe him killing off Ser Rodrik was necessary, as it only made him look more annoying. In the books, there is more depth to Theon, and they don’t portray that depth very well in the show.

Also, the character of Cersei is more intricate in the books, but simply portrayed as a cold hearted bitch in the TV show.  I agree that she is a cold hearted bitch, but I believe her intentions are more clearly portrayed in the books than on the show.  Plus, there are a few scenes in the book where Cersei is shown as…nice? I know, hard to believe, but it’s true! Also in the book, the relationship between Cersei and Tyrion is seen a bit more.  It shows that since they are family, they respect one another, but quarrel nonstop because of their obvious differences and disagreements.  There were some parts in the book where Cersei and Tyrion interact with one another, which I would have loved to see on the screen, but were totally cut out from the show.  One such scene is where Cersei picks up Tyrion and swings him around the room in excitement, but due to how the writers of the show want to portray Cersei, that scene was cut out.  

All in all, I love the book and the show and I plan on continuing reading the series.  If you have not gotten into the whole GoT craze, I definitely recommend the books as they are literary works of art.  

Bookshelf Sunday: Stuff Parisians Like

One thing I do every night before I lay my head down to sleep is read.  I love reading.  I’m a bookworm.  Whether it be nonfiction or fiction, mystery or humor, whatever genre, I do not care.  Reading a book before I sleep has become an essential part of my daily routine and I believe it is something which helps me wind down and maintain my sanity.  Whenever I feel over my head, I pick up a book, read, and work through it.  So, I figure why not write about them.

Just today, I finished a fun gem of a book called Stuff Parisians Like by Olivier Magny.  I ordered this book at the beginning of the school year from Barnes & Noble, along with another book about Paris (which I will probably show you at some point) in the same order.  I don’t know why, but I have some sort of affinity for Paris, France in general, really.  I’ve never traveled to France before, but I hope to someday.  Perhaps I’ll travel there for my honeymoon if some gent decides to put a ring on it.

SPL was not something I expected to be humorous.  I just thought it would be an insightful guide to things Parisians like, and perhaps make me not look like a tourist if I ever decide to visit.  Little did I know that Magny created a work of humor and ball-busting.  Whether or not the way he describes Parisians is truthful, I’ll have to determine for myself.  The work was satirical yet intelligent, as he pointed out the things Parisians like, but also made fun of them for it.  He painted the Parisian as snobby and ignorant, but ones with refined taste and contemplative.  Who knew someone could be ignorant and deep thinking at the same time? Not me!

Magny characterized an entire population with one book, which says it all.  Not even halfway through the book I began to wonder whether I should take his words seriously at all, but everything seemed so believable! I applaud him for making his experience with the Parisian enjoyable to read, and being cheeky enough to plug his own Parisian wine tasting bar, O Chateau, at the end and in the middle of his book.

The book itself provided me with an interest in learning French, as well, since a lot of the book I had to type into Google translator to make sense of.  Also, because I intend on going to Paris one day, I made several notes in the book for future reference.  The book, aside from the satirical ball busting, made me want to incorporate some Parisian things into my daily life. For example, moderation and replacing butter with olive oil.  Some more humorous things Parisians like that I have incorporated has been calling people fascist when I don’t agree with them (I’m not really that narrow-minded, I swear), and reading the books in someone’s home I’ve just been invited to so I can learn more about them.  Honestly, though, Magny has really made me convinced that Parisians are a peculiar breed.

Needless to say, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone who is as interested in Paris and France like I am.  

 

P.S. It was also noted that Parisians allegedly like New York…lucky me!