Poetry · Reviews

“Milk and Honey” by Rupi Kaur

I am not sure whether to call milk and honey a collection of poems or a journey written in poetic form, but the latter feels somewhat more suiting. Even though they can be read and cherished on their own, I believe together they become a much more powerful entity, they become someone.

Each poem is a color, has a particular density and intensity; as a whole, milk and honey is a spectrum, a portrait we instinctively identify with, even if just around the eyes.

It is blunt at times, unapologetic, but in a way that comes across as delicate. There might be a soft shade of anger, but absolutely no rage. There’s disappointment, sadness, grief and even faint traces of melancholy. As you go on though, as you go through milk and honey’s pages, these sentiments are not weight being set upon your shoulders. Instead, they seem to reach out to comfort you from within their ache. These are tears being poured on a seed of hope that will soon bloom, that will eventually blossom.

milk and honey is someone’s story, a story that has been made history. milk and honey is a hand that will lead you, not away from life’s heartbreaks, but through them. milk and honey is strength, self-love and self-acceptance, wonder… and so much more.

With ups and downs, a reflection of the rollercoaster that is life, milk and honey is both a beautifully intense read and a physically beautiful book.

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Reviews

“The Life List” by Lori Nelson Spielman

Finally, this book belongs to every girl and woman who sees the word ‘dream’ and thinks verb, not noun.”

This book was given to me by a darling friend, a very special friend that I cherish with all my heart. That said, you sneaky little you! I am usually the one who sends books around just because I feel like someone needs to read them. Books are more than just stories, you know? They are open conversations and I had to have this one with myself. For a long time, really. So thank you, lovely. Even if far, I felt you right here. Whether you meant it or not, THANK YOU.

No. You don’t need meds. You just need more love in your life – be it from your father, or from a lover, or from another source, perhaps yourself even. What’s lacking is a basic human need. Believe it or not, you’re one of the lucky ones – you admit you need it. There are a whole lot of unhappy folks out there who’ve stuffed away their needs. Seeking love creates vulnerability. Only healthy people can allow themselves to be vulnerable.”

This novel follows the life of Brett Bohlinger, a woman who has somehow convinced herself that she has everything she wants, everything she needs. When her mother passes away, when her rock suddenly goes invisible under her, Brett’s foundations begin to crumble. It’s from the ashes, with the help and guidance from someone who knew her better than she knows herself, that Brett rises, getting reacquainted with her dreams, with her heart, with herself.

I really did enjoy this book. I must confess that at first it was hard to connect with Brett, but then again, Brett was having trouble connecting with herself too. As time goes by, though, understanding and respect take over. As improbable as the scenario might seem, if you allow yourself to just go with the flow, heartbreak and dry humor and all that, you are in for a treat.

Predictable? Maybe. Or maybe that’s just life, so simple that once you see it for what it is all the troubles just start to seem ridiculous. But not irrelevant. One needs to fall to learn how to get up. Light would be nothing without darkness. So maybe it’s time to put things into perspective. Perhaps it’s time to make a list of our own.

And I thank you, my dear reader, for allowing me into your life, whether for a day or a week or a month.”

Thank YOU.

Owlcrate · Reviews

Owlcrate August 2016: Unboxing

Hello fellow book lovers,

for some weird reason I decided that I was going to order my very first Owlcrate (this is not the weird part) and film the unboxing process to share with you guys (this is the weirdest, and possibly embarrassing, part).

A few warnings before I drop the video on you darling people:

  1. I look like I just rolled out of bed (which is what happened)
  2. The quality is terrible and the sound is extremely low (if this ever happens again I might use an actual camera)
  3. I might mispronounce some words (I can’t English)
  4. I wasn’t aware that Owlcrate itself was all about YA (EXCITING!)

I believe you will understand from the video (at least from the amount of times I say the word excited and use the expression oh my god) that we have officially become Owlcrate subscribers. I honestly cannot wait for September’s surprise.

P.S. I promise my vocabulary is greater than the one used by my I-just-rolled-out-of-bed persona.

Reviews

“Postcards from the Edge” by Carrie Fisher

I searched what became one of my favourite online bookstores for Carrie Fisher in the hope of finding a copy of Wishful Drinking. Instead, I found myself staring at a list of available titles that included Postcards from the Edge. And the question was, why not?

Postcards from the Edge mainly follows the story of an actress who found her way to a rehab clinic after losing – almost for good – her life to drugs. Suzanne has reached her thirties and, after her drug scandal, is having a hard time finding work… and love. In her search for both, with the sometimes helpful hand of her family, friends and therapist, she learns that perhaps one should just enjoy the ride instead of trying to stop the roller coaster from going. With its awe-inspiring ups and its life-threatening lows, it’s an adventure of a lifetime.

Suzanne, with her endearingly honest voice, grows on you. She’s so incredibly human, so someone you may know, so… you. I believe it’s practically impossible not to start rooting for her as she tries to find her way. One of the dots that make up her silhouette will certainly connect with one of yours. And the ending… it’s just… life.

Postcards from the Edge is clever, hilarious, wise, real… all of it bottled up in simplistic, yet rather profound, writing. I would definitely prescribe it (ah!), recommend it.

Poetry · Reviews

“Thirst” by Mary Oliver

“When I first found you I was
filled with light, now the darkness grows
and it is filled with crooked things, bitter
and weak, each one bearing my name.”

I must start by saying that I believe the title of this collection of poems is beyond appropriate. Thirst is a tree of forty three branches seeking answers from a sky they know to be everlastingly out of reach.

Mary Oliver is painfully aware that one backward step after one step forward won’t bring you to where you were before. Even if taken with exceptional precision, there is absolutely no way back. We crave the moment in its infinitude, not in its physicality or geographical capacity.

She is moving. You can tell that she is trying not to stop, not to have a break for a breath become eternity. Sometimes blindly, other times looking back over her shoulder, she is carrying on. Some of the doors that were before wide open to everything now hide walls of bricks behind, though. She bumps into them, into accidental revelations that impel her step. There is no wrong path, just path.

Even though I must confess that I did not enjoy some of her more religious poems as much as the others, I understand, and respect, their existence.

Going through Mary Oliver’s body of work, back and forth in time, is an incredible experience. It’s remarkable how you can feel her reaching out, further and further, into the universe. It’s amazing how you can feel her changing, sometimes subtly, other times rather brusquely, even if always kindheartedly. She has filled my year with beauty, leading me through a spectrum of emotions that seem to have awoken me in more ways than one. I couldn’t be more grateful for her existence.

“Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.”

Reviews

“Happy People Read and Drink Coffee” by Agnès Martin-Lugand

I don’t think I will ever be able to forget reading the first couple of pages of Happy People Read and Drink Coffee by Agnès Martin-Lugand. I must confess I took quite a long break from this book after reading the first chapter. I had to close it and I only opened it again a few weeks later. I felt as if I had been thrown into a bottomless tub filled with ice cubes. At first the cold is almost reassuring; it seems to highlight your senses, reminding you that you are utterly alive. Then arrives the pain, the striking pain, burning, making it hard to breathe. Afterwards… numbness. What an incredible experience.

That said, my feelings couldn’t be more mixed about what followed that chapter. I can’t quite explain, can’t put my finger on what exactly happened, but my first guess would be that something must have gotten lost in translation*1. The language feels… stiff. Then again, it does match Diane’s emotional state. Could it be that we are supposed to relearn how to feel, even when our surroundings seem to hold absolutely no space for anything other than… cold? Even if that’s the case, there’s still something… strange going on.

I would say that reading this novel is like going down a memory lane that you share with someone that can no longer revisit it with you. Even though you could navigate it with your eyes closed, you keep bumping against odd things. I would say that the writing feels intrusive, almost as if it were a character itself, Diane’s past trying to convince her to stay. Perhaps that’s the whole point.

All in all, even though I found the middle to be a bit cliché, I quite enjoyed the ending.



*1 The edition read was in Portuguese.

Books We Should Be Talking About · Reviews

“The Fangirl Life” by Kathleen Smith

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with being unusual because it’s the currency that keeps the world turning and worth writing about.”

It amazes me how fiction is, after all these centuries, still looked down upon. Even though I understand why someone would label it as an escape, I believe many are those who mistakenly paint it as a switch-off button to all that is real, some going as far as calling it cowardice. I mean, why would anyone want to shut down a reality that keeps slapping us with truths about beauty, failure and so on? Preposterous concept, right?

The Fangirl Life by Kathleen Smith is a charming reminder that the word escape doesn’t mean that we suddenly stop existing. Even though it could indeed be seen as a break from the outside world, the one inside keeps both eyes, heart and mind, open. What we see while there, what we go through, what we learn, it can be used on the outside, and The Fangirl Life by Kathleen Smith shows us how. Instead of sending us out of our way to buy materials to improve our lives, The Fangirl Life teaches us how to find them within ourselves and write the greatest storyline ever, with its breathtaking ups and heartbreaking downs.

One of the greatest things about this book is Kathleen Smith and her delightful writing voice. She won’t make you feel awkward for loving the world of fiction. Instead, she will wrap an arm around your shoulders and say, I know exactly what you mean. She embraces her passion instead of making you feel guilty for it, which in turn opens doors to a safe haven that will have you feeling at home and comfortable enough to give her learning how to deal suggestions a go.

As the author reminds us, our life is the greatest story of all time. As avid followers of the fictional world, we know just what a story needs to capture our attention and to keep us intrigued, interested and in love, all at once. As executive producers, directors, writers and main characters of this rollercoaster-style adventure, we have the power. All we need to do is acknowledge our imagination as a skill instead of a distraction, and learn how to use it. Sure, there will be obstacles and unexpected curveballs, but hey, didn’t Miss Fisher get through hers? If she can do it, so can we. At our own pace, with our own breaks.

“No single success or failure will be what defines your role in life. Good character development happens when you show up every day and be kind to others and yourself.”

Being a fangirl is not ridiculous. Being a fangirl is powerful and Kathleen Smith will help us find a way of putting that power to good use with The Fangirl Life.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am off to plan my AU day.

Giveaways

The Hat Has Spoken

We would like to thank Elaine, Ayustika, The Grand World of Books and Joanna Peter for participating in our giveaway.

Congratulations, The Grand World of Books! The hat has spoken and you are the lucky winner of our ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ giveaway. Please email us over at infusoesparaaalma@gmail.com to arrange the safe delivery of your newest treasure.

August seems to be giveaway month. More magic is coming and also some touching and memorable reads!

Stay tuned.

LGBTQA+ · Reviews

“Ask the Passengers” by A.S. King

“How many things do I have to invent in my head to survive this?”

The amount of questions asked by Ask the Passengers should perhaps be awkward and uncomfortable, for they do make you think and deconstruct your so called reality. Thing is, instead, you just kind of feel like it’s the perfect place to discuss such matters, to question everything, even yourself. I believe this is quite an achievement. Instead of an ‘easy escape’, as so many like to call the reading experience, this book suggests looking inside, facing yourself and the thoughts you might have been avoiding. Throughout this whole process, it just holds your hand. It doesn’t stop you from hitting the ground, but it’s there for you. Isn’t that what a good friend does?

“Some of you have it ingrained in you. You weren’t born with it. No baby has hate for anything. We were all babies once, right? This little guy doesn’t care what country you were born in or what religion you might practice or how much you weigh or who you might love.”

As you might have guessed from the introduction above, I absolutely loved this book. I really enjoyed how Astrid led us across this novel, how she introduced us to her life and the ones that take part in it, directly or indirectly. I feel like I should mention the passengers here because that’s one of my absolute favourite details about this book. A.S. King went that far and I hope she’s feeling hugged right now because I am mentally hugging her. It was such a beautiful and sweet detail. It’s amazing how nothing feels out of place. Everything belongs, like everyone should. And the labels! They are so cleverly discussed and deconstructed. I am in love. And Frank Socrates? I love him too.

“How can we say nobody’s perfect if there is no perfect to compare to? Perfection implies that there really is a right and wrong way to be. And what type of perfection is the best type? Moral perfection? Aesthetic? Physiological? Mental?”

Seriously, though. Ask the Passengers is quite something. And don’t kid yourself, this is not a novel just for teens. I don’t believe there is such thing, really. If you are ready for questions and not a lot of answers, Ask the Passengers.

Reviews

“Friends at Forty” by Angie Dickerson

Originally reviewed for Whispering Stories – 3 stars

“Everything is fine. Nothing feels right.”

Samantha and Daniel Blake are married. Samantha and Daniel Blake have two children, the youngest having just left for university. Samantha and Daniel Blake have since then moved into a new building, which looks good on them, somewhere in midtown Los Angeles. The change in scenery is the beginning of Samantha and Daniel Blake’s second act, an act meant to bestow upon them a universe of ravishing reviews, perhaps even a standing ovation. The audience is on their feet, their hands are meeting one another in apparent bliss… but why is there no sound?

“After shedding all those coats, what was left behind was a confused, scared and lonely forty-something woman named Samantha, who she had never taken the time to know.”

Samantha was always someone’s something. She was her parents’ daughter, then Daniel’s wife, and then another layer was added once she became someone’s mother. Having met her husband-to-be while still at university, Samantha never had, at least not the time, to figure herself out. Now, with her children gone and her husband half-distracted by his income-proving job, she finds herself… lost.

I would say that Friends at Forty by Angie Dickerson is, first and foremost, a novel about change. At first, Samantha and Daniel seem to recover from the earthquake of transformation in a gentle way, but the replicas keep coming and shaking the roots long ago buried in wet sand mistaken for cement. Everything seems to then start falling apart, and rather chaotically.

Even though I enjoyed the premise, I must confess the deliverance just wasn’t my cup of tea. I feel like there’s something… missing. This is indeed an introduction of sorts, the beginning of what is meant to be a saga, but it feels too… floaty, too… out of nowhere. I understand Samantha’s mood swings, I understand that she’s meant to come across as loveably annoying, even the clichés that surround her journey make sense to me, but Daniel with his odd Batman quirk that doesn’t seem to belong at all and his reaction to other women… Perhaps that’s the whole point, perhaps we are supposed to jump into Samantha’s shoes and see, feel, the surroundings through her eyes. Still, there’s just… I can’t quite put my finger on it.

There are moments of utter joy, though, and abundant laughter. The way food is described, for example, is almost sinful, as well as the way the different atmospheres, and the transitions between them, are painted.

All in all, I would go as far as calling it entertaining.