Love Letters in the Sand

20393Title: Love Letters in the Sand
Author: Khalil Gibran
Genre: Poetry
Rating: ★★★★★ | 5.0 out of 5.0

Gibran Khalil Gibran is the third-bestselling poet in the world after Shakespeare and Laozi, and a bilingual Lebanese American who wrote poems in English to boot, and a major influence on American countercultural icons in the 1960s, but I hadn’t heard of him until recently.

I’m not actually big on English language poetry in general (I’m actually unsure if these poems were originally written in English or in Arabic, but English is a language that’s difficult for me to connect emotionally to), because I often feel like I can’t “get” it. But beautiful language is a pretty universally loved thing, right, and this was gorgeous. And not just the words––this particular collection also features the calligraphy of Lassaad Metoui, which is incredibly appealing.

The poems are tender and sad, delicate and affecting. The language is simple, but constructed to deliver a real punch of emotion. I enjoyed the way he writes about love, enjoyed his sometimes contemplative, sometimes moody tone. I think an added positive for me was the fact that the volume itself was so short, because as I have been constantly stressing since the start of my last semester at college, I am in a constant state of stress, and I have zero time to dedicate to anything outside of school and clubs and politics. Not good for my blood pressure, but good to increase my appreciation for short, concise volumes.

Definitely worth a read, because even if you don’t like it (which I highly doubt), it’s not long enough to do any permanent offense to your sensibilities or whatever.

When Dimple Met Rishi

28458598Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, YA
Rating: ★★★☆☆ | 3.0

Hi, it’s my favourite trope: arranged marriage, but they end up really falling in love! Dimple Shah is everything her mother doesn’t want out of a daughter: wild, stubborn, refusing to wear makeup. So she should have known when her mother allows her to attend the coding camp of her dreams that something was Up.

Because it’s there that she meets Rishi Patel: the Good Son, the hopeless romantic, and the guy who introduces himself to her as her “future husband.” So she does what any normal girl would do: she throws her coffee in his face and runs away. But then, as fate (or the partner preferences Rishi put on his application letter) would have it, the two are paired up, and much to her own annoyance, Dimple finds herself maybe possibly liking Rishi? Unstoppable object, meet immovable force.

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Something in Between

28688476Title: Between the Lines
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, YA, Drama
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ | 2.0 of 5.0

I wish I could say I enjoyed this novel. I even wish I say this novel simply “wasn’t for me.” Unfortunately, neither of these are true. I will preface this by saying that I’m neither Filipinx nor undocumented, so my personal impressions should be taken with a grain of salt, and should not take precedent over the opinion of someone who is Filipinx, undocumented, or both. That said, I found the novel to be extremely juvenile for its target demographic, and it was also incredibly microaggressive, especially where it came to respectability politics. I DNF-ed this book at just over 50% of the way through.

Initially, I was excited to read a novel about an undocumented Filipina girl because there are a lot of undocumented Asian Americans, but as a community, we don’t centre their voices nearly enough. Something in Between follows Jasmine de los Santos, who seems to lead a charmed life––pretty, popular, a cheerleader and a contender for valedictorian, she’s surrounded by loving friends and family. She’s fully prepared to live the American Dream. That is, until the day she’s notified that she qualified for a major college scholarship, but her parents tell her there’s no way she can accept, because she lacks documentation. While her world is crashing around her, she becomes increasingly reliant on Royce (…you read that name correctly), whose father is one of the most strident anti-immigrant congressmen on Capitol Hill.

…Alrighty then.

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Enter Title Here

enter_title_final_revealTitle: Enter Title Here
Author: Rahul Kanakia
Genre: Realistic, Contemporary, Young Adult
Rating: ★★ || 5 stars

warning: drug use, suicide ideations, overdosing

When was the last time you read a novel with a truly detestable heroine? When was the last time you had to spend three hundred fifty pages with a horrid person? When was the last time you enjoyed it?

Reshma Kapoor is the valedictorian at her selective, Silicon Valley high school. She’s written columns for the Huffington Post, and she has an agent interested in a novel she hasn’t written yet. She’s a shoo-in for Stanford, but it isn’t enough. She’s only one of 30,000 valedictorians competing for less than 6,000 spots at Stanford, so she can’t be simply good. She could never have settled for simply good. What Reshma needs, what is almost a compulsion for her, is to have confirmation that she is better than everyone else. And she will go to almost any length to be the best.

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Quick Take

Real quick, scrolling down my Kindle Cloud:

 

The Girl Who Played Go (4/5)

warning for sexual violence/threats of rape, murder, wartime atrocities

One of my favourite wartime novels, a must read for me, if only out of nostalgia. I had some minor issues with this novel, particularly about the ending, for one, which struck me as overly grimdark; sexual violence was indeed a large component of the Japanese invasion of China, and that shouldn’t be ignored, but I’m honestly not sure what purpose the ending was supposed to have. In particular this idea that death is preferable to rape, which is a common trope in this genre of literature, makes me worried about what this may say to survivors of rape. Overall, the lyrical writing, the plot structure (set up like a game of go, each piece moving slowly towards one another until they are ultimately so entangled it is impossible to separate them), and the dreamlike anonymity of the characters saves this from being just another exploitative war novel about the Second Sino-Japanese War.

There are also some concerns I hold about consent, and the power dynamics at play in the idea of falling in love with one’s coloniser (particularly one that is currently engaged in a violent invasion of your home), but the relationship between the main characters never progresses far enough for that to be an issue that is really deeply investigated.

Spiritwalker Trilogy (5/5)

At some point, this one is up for a reread. Kate Elliot’s wonderful worldbuilding, her accessible writing, and her complex characters (& the complex relationships they are allowed to have) make this far more than another high-concept alt-universe fantasy novel set in historically-inaccurate whitebread Europe. The novel is convincingly diverse and the (quite frankly) wonderful romance and the sense of the scope of swashbuckling adventure made this a truly unforgettable read.

Though the pace was much slower than what I’m used to (I read mostly YA), it never lost my interest, and Elliot does a beautiful job making the extraordinary seem ordinary, which may not seem like so desirable a quality at first, but the world feels more inhabited because of it.

Girl Overboard (2/5)

I mean, it says something both about me and the book that when I was scrolling through my Kindle Cloud I sort of groaned, because I always mean to review this novel but never get around to it a) because I’ve forgotten most of the finer details of the plot b) because my overall impression of the book isn’t that great and c) the combination of those two and the lackluster writing really makes me reluctant to write anything in-depth about it. So, like, draw your own conclusions about if I recommend this novel?

Okay, no, that’s unfair. The book was passable. It was mediocre. It’s a fun read on a snowy day; it doesn’t do anything particularly new, the characters aren’t likeable or unlikeable, and it hits the expected beats, but if you’re looking for something to get over a book slump or just for the sake of having something fun to read, this is the book. One of the things that I liked most about this novel was the presence of an interracial couple where neither of them were white (RIP Scott x Kira), but aside from that, it wasn’t anything super fresh that I think every single person on the planet should read (for that, I recommend: The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo by Zen Cho).