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.

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And I Darken

and-i-darken_kiersten-whiteTitle: And I Darken
Author: Kiersten White
Genre: Historical Fiction, Alternate History, YA
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ | 2.0

For a stretch of about 30 minutes, I thought I might actually like this novel. Imagine: a novel about Dracula, but Vladimir is Lada, and Lada is ugly, and brutal, but ultimately sympathetic. Add that to the fact that the novel was super hyped by a bunch of book bloggers whose opinions I usually trust, and I jumped into this pit like there was a feast at the bottom of it.

To its credit, there are things that it does try to do well––Lada is certainly an unconventional protagonist. She isn’t likeable and she’s unapologetic about wanting power. There’s something I love about women who want power––it’s not so much that I think it’s empowering for women to take power, because it’s really not (see: Margaret Thatcher), but because I love that girls can be fucked up pieces of shit and still be worthy of having our stories told.

And insofar as they stay in Wallachia, the story felt nuanced: Lada’s self-hatred, the internalised sexism that she displaces onto her mother, her desperation for her father’s love and her frustration at his inability to protect Wallachia from Ottoman invasion.

Past this, the book goes so quickly downhill. Even if you weren’t concerned with diversity (which if you aren’t, yuck), the writing is extremely dry. There were a few pretty lines, but they felt incredibly false and formulated, just a bunch of words strung together to sound #empowering but lacking any real understanding of oppression or true subversive potential.

And once the novel hits the Ottoman Empire…yikes.

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Moonshine

6977329Title: Moonshine
Author: Alaya Dawn Johnson
Genre: Historical Fiction (Alt/Spec Fic), Mystery, Supernatural, Action, Urban Fantasy
Rating: ★★★☆☆ | 2.5 out of 5.0

Zephyr Hollis has a reputation as a do-gooder. As a singing vampire suffragette, actually. From Brooklyn to Midtown to Battery Park to the LES, she and her bicycle are near-ubiquitous as she runs from protest to meeting to night school, where she teaches. One night, before class, she comes across a young boy, victim of an Other attack, and tries to save him. She’s helped by Amir, a mysterious Other who attends her classes, who in turn offers her a deal: if she will help him track down Rinaldo, the vampire mob boss whom she suspects is behind the attack of the child, he will pay her a much needed $200. The more Zephyr investigates, though, the more she finds herself compromised by her growing attraction to Amir, and by the feeling that something is very, very wrong.

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