Poetry Talk: Sublimity by McKenna Hight

When a dear friend tells you they’ve encased their soul in paper, it is best to tread carefully.  Poetry is an intimate form of literature.  To translate your inner trials, triumphs, and longings into language and is a brave thing to do.  I deeply admire McKenna Hight’s courage in sharing her debut poetry collection, Sublimity, with the world.  It’s an act of hospitality I’m honored to receive.

Before proceeding, I’d like to say a few things about my relationship with the author.  Sometimes in life, you meet people and find instant kinship.  You may only be around each other for a few days, but that’s enough to form what will likely be a lifelong friendship.  McKenna, I think, is one of those people.  We met four months ago during my brief Spring Break stay at Rochester L’Abri.  She’s a writer from Atlanta and we bonded instantly over our mutual love for YA fantasy and Sarah J. Maas.  During our short time together, we had some really intense discussions about faith, struggles, and how we are to live.  Meeting McKenna was no accident and I value her friendship immensely.

As a blogger, bookstagrammer, librarian, and amateur book critic, it made complete sense to do a review of Sublimity.  I use the word “review” lightly.  This post is pretty long, as I get into some close reading, but that’s part of the fun.  While it’s definitely possible to critique a work of poetry by its structure and adherence to literary form, poetry is hard to pin down. So much of a poetic work is subjective.  Poetry is a conversation.  It’s about immersing yourself in the figurative language and gleaning whatever you can.  I don’t pretend to understand all of Hight’s poems.  I don’t think understanding is the point. There is no concrete meaning to poetry and there is space for a thousand interpretations.  Poetry is about the journey, so let’s journey together.

If you’re interested in picking up your own copy of Sublimity, you can do so at this link.  Follow the author on Instagram @yawnsters.

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Reading Recap: June 2018

One of my motivations behind carefully recording my reading statistics this year is that I hoped to identify certain trends that emerge.  I’m into my seventh month of record-keeping and have started to notice some interesting things.

The most notable detail for me is that, even though I finished less books than May, I read almost 1,000 more pages.  It’s interesting to think about quantity vs. length.

Looking at this month’s finished titles, it has also become apparent that, when I am busy and stressed, I turn to old favorites.  Even when I’m exhausted and don’t have the energy to read, I don’t stop reading.  I just revisit what I’ve loved in the past.  As C.S. Lewis puts it, “I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.”  Some books are just as good as I remember, some grow and change with me, and others lose their shine.

Do you ever reread books?  Do they get old or are you always noticing new things?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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Overall Statistics:

  • Number of books read: 8
  • Number of pages read: 3,974
  • Number of audiobooks listened to: 2
  • Number of rereads: 4
  • Longest book: Cress by Marissa Meyer
  • Shortest book: I’m Still Here by Austin Channing-Brown
  • Highest ratings:
    • Paper Towns by John Green (5 stars)
    • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (4.75 stars)
  • Lowest rating: Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver (2.5 stars)

Some notes on my stats:

  • Audiobooks are included in total page count.  It takes me longer to listen to a book than read it, so I count them
  • My ratings are on a 5-star system and are ridiculously subjective

If you want more information about each book, follow the links embedded in the titles.  That will bring you to the book’s Goodreads page.

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Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I’m frugal with my five-star ratings, but any book that can make me cry deserves all the stars.

When I first read The Book Thief at sixteen, I didn’t see what the fuss was all about.  It was good, but not great.  I liked the writing, the story, and enjoyed the characters well enough, but it didn’t make an impression.

This time around, the book absolutely wrecked me.

I picked it up for one of my summer grad school classes and it was love from page one.  I opted for the audiobook and soaked in every minute of my daily commute.  Zusak’s writing is incredible.  The characters are well-formed, with realistic development and motivations. The book’s themes about the power of words and the inconsistency of humanity are so well-implemented, I can’t get them out of my head.  It’s taken me a month to sit and write out this review because there’s just so much to think about.

Reading The Book Thief as an adult was also a very personal experience.  I’ve recently experienced several deaths and this book helped me grieve.  I finished the same day I learned one of my favorite library patrons had died and the last fifteen minutes of the audiobook had me sobbing uncontrollably on my way home from work.  I was a total traffic hazard.  For someone who doesn’t cry often, this kind reaction is noteworthy.  I haven’t connected with a story on this visceral a level in a long time.

Overall, this is the kind of book that you can’t look away from.  It’s the kind of story that haunts you for years after reading and keeps bringing you back for more.  It’s the kind of story that worms its way into your being.  It sounds strange, but I feel a more complete person after reading this book.

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Reading Recap: May 2018

Yay, another reading recap!

My main goal this month was to get through all the required books in the syllabus for my Young Adult lit class before term starts.  I’m happy to say that I succeeded with three days to spare!  Required novels dominated my pleasure reading this month.  Eight of the following books were for class.  There were some really great titles and I’m really looking forward to discussing Maus, Brown Girl Dreaming, and the book on the Romanovs with my classmates.

As for the books I picked up purely for fun… I was unimpressed with the newest Court of Thorns and Roses installment, but enjoyed being back in that world.  Naturally, rereading Cinder for my class launched another reread of the entire Lunar Chronicles series, which has been delightful.  For my morning cup-of-tea Christian nonfiction, both titles I finished this month were excellent.

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Overall Statistics:

  • Number of books read: 11
  • Number of pages read: 2,949
  • Number of audiobooks listened to: 2
  • Number of rereads: 2
  • Longest book: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
  • Shortest book: Maus by Art Spiegleman
  • Highest ratings:
    • Cinder by Marissa Meyer (4.75 stars)
    • Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren (4.5 stars)
  • Lowest rating: Black Butler Vol. 1 by Yana Toboso, translated by Tomo Kimura

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Poetry Talk: Twirling in Flames by Tinu Bello

A couple of months ago, my friend Tinu approached me about helping review and publicize her debut poetry collection.  I hadn’t heard from her since college and, while I was swamped with grad school work at the time, couldn’t say no.  What’s the point of having being involved in the online bookish community if you can’t use your platform to support the creative endeavors of your friends?

It’s been a long time coming, but a short break between grad school semesters has given me the chance to sit down with the collection and pull together some thoughts.  This is by no means a comprehensive review, but I hope you get a sense for what the poems are about.  I had so much fun digging into them.

I hope you enjoy my scattered thoughts!

You can buy your own copy of Twirling in Flames by Tinu Bello on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  Be sure to add it to your reading list on Goodreads.

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Reading Recap: April 2018

Oh, April, thank goodness you are a thing of the past.

This month, I had my first true reading slump in years, which was frustrating.  A two-week bout of anxiety, a death in the family, and a misguided jump onto the hype-train that was Ready Player One took all the wind out of my sails.  I spent two weeks on a book that should have taken two days and I didn’t even like it.  What a huge waste!

When it only took three days to make it through the 600 page beast that is Obsidio, I knew I was back to normal.  After that, I cruised through the rest of the month.

Halfway through April, I received the syllabus for my summer class, Library Services for Young Adults.  My goal is to have all the required books finished by the time the semester starts.  (Yes, I am a crazy person.  Embrace it.)  I’ve already covered nearly half of the list and definitely think I can finish by the end of May.

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This post is part of my 2018 Reading Challenge.

Overall Statistics:

  • Number of books read: 13
  • Number of pages read: 4, 098
  • Number of audiobooks listened to: 3
  • Number of rereads: 4
  • Longest book: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  • Shortest book: The Separate Rose by Pablo Neruda
  • Highest ratings:
    • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (5 stars)
    • Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (4.5 stars)
    • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (4.5 stars)
  • Lowest rating:
    • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (1.5 stars)

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Reading Recap: March 2018

Another month has come and gone, and I’ve been busy reading!  Because, really, what else do I have to do with my time?  Actually, I’m quite thrilled because my massive pile of library books that I’ve been chipping away at since January is now reduced to ZERO!  Which is a good feeling!

I was on a roll early in the month, but slowed down near the end due to being out of town.  This month features a ridiculous amount of YA (what else is new?), some new releases, some rereads, some hyped books, and some that had me less than thrilled.

My thoughts on the following books are all spoiler-free.  If you want to talk about any of the titles, feel free to leave a comment!

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Reading Recap: February 2018

It’s time for another reading recap!  Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a month since I last posted.

February was an underwhelming reading month for me.  I read a lot of books I enjoyed, but only a few that fully sucked me in and captured my imagination.  My highest rating was a reread and the majority of my ratings were in the 3-4 range.  The whole month, I felt overwhelmed by a massive pile of library holds that I felt obligated to read right away.  I did read a few books that I own that have been sitting on my shelf for a long time, so that felt good.

Time to plunge into the books!  My thoughts are all spoiler-free.  If you want to talk about any of the titles, feel free do drop by the comments!

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Reading Recap: January 2018

It’s time for my first reading recap of the year!

As part of a project to better track my reading habits, at the end of each month, I’m sharing some statistics from what books I covered. Being a graduate student on top of working full time, I really don’t have the mental capacity to review each book I read.  So this is a way to share what I’m reading.  These posts will also be handy summaries that I can use later for personal purposes.

I do share some brief thoughts about each book and I do my best to phrase things in a way that don’t have spoilers.  These aren’t reviews, just scattered thoughts that I put in my notebook to help me remember my impression of the book.  If you have any questions or want to talk further about anything you see on this list, I’d be happy to do that with you in the comments!  Or, feel free to add me on Goodreads!

If you want more information about each book, follow the links embedded in the titles.  That will bring you to the book’s Goodreads page.

So here we go!

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2017 in Books

Why hello there, everyone!  Long time, no see!  I hope to post a general life update soon (yes, I survived my first semester of grad school), but first, BOOKS!

I feel like 2017 is going to go down as a one of the most significant years in my reading life.  Looking back, I not only read more books than ever before, but I discovered countless new writers who I now cannot imagine my life without.

This year, I read 211 books.  Holy cats, that’s a lot!  This includes audiobooks and stand-alone graphic novels.  I did not include comic volumes or things I read twice in one year.  This number feels like a HUGE accomplishment.  It smashes last year’s record by 64 books!

The theme this year was all about YA.  I’ve always enjoyed the genre, but this year stepped it up several notches.  Being a librarian, I work to stay on top of new releases and up-and-coming titles so I can successfully help my patrons find things to read.  A perk (and curse) of this is that I’m painfully aware of what’s being published, when it’s coming out, and how to get my hands on it for free.

And, oh, the authors I’ve discovered this year.  It was a fantastic year for discovering YA fantasy writers.  Sarah J. Maas, Leigh Bardugo, V.E. Schwab, Laini Taylor, where have you been all my life?!  I cannot imagine my life without the Court of Thorns and Roses Series or Six of Crows duology.  (I read A Court of Mist and Fury five times and have zero regrets.) I was charmed by Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer and swept away by Marie Lu’s Warcross.  I reread Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and fell in love with them all over again. There were some excellent Asian-inspired fantasies released this year; I really enjoyed Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao and Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh.  I’m currently in the midst of Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle, which I am loving so far.

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