Review: I Wish I Had a Wookiee by Ian Doescher

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: I Wish I Had a Wookiee: And Other Poems for Our Galaxy
Author: Ian Doescher
Illustrator: Tim Budgen
Genre: Poetry
Audience: Children
Format: Hardcover
Length: 128 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books
Release Date: September 28, 2021
Source: Publisher
Recommended for fans of: Star Wars

SYNOPSIS

Inspired by the beloved world of Star Wars, this collection of over 75 whimsical and original poems is a celebration of childhood, creativity, imagination, and the early years of Star Wars fandom.

In “My Pet AT-AT,” a ten-year-old dreams of playing hide and seek and fetch with an AT-AT. In “Dad’s Luke Skywalker Figurine,” a child opens their dad’s untouched action figure but, instead of getting into trouble, helps their dad re-discover his own sense of play. In “T-16 Dreams,” a little girl imagines herself flying through the galaxy, the Empire hot on her trail, to help with her real-world fear of flying.

Set in the hearts and minds of young children who love Star Wars, and filled with the characters you know and love, I Wish I Had a Wookiee is the perfect gift for the young Star Wars fan–and the young at heart.

MY THOUGHTS

Shel Silverstein meets a galaxy far, far away in this sweet poetry collection that is perfect for young Star Wars fans and the young at heart.

These playful and heartwarming poems describe young Star Wars fans and the effect the series has on their lives. It also explores themes of family, friendship, confidence, and imagination.

I also loved Tim Budgen’s simple illustrations with pops of color. This book truly captures the magic of Star Wars and its influence on generation of children.

Thank you to the publisher for the gifted copy.

Review: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: Long Way Down
Author: Jason Reynolds
Genre: Contemporary/Verse
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Length: 306 pages
Publisher: Atheneum
Release Date: October 24, 2017
Source: Personal collection
Recommended for fans of: The Hate U Give, Dear Martin
Content Warnings: gun violence, death, gangs, drugs

SYNOPSIS

An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.

Told in short, fierce staccato narrative verse, Long Way Down is a fast and furious, dazzlingly brilliant look at teenage gun violence, as could only be told by Jason Reynolds.

MY THOUGHTS

This is an incredibly powerful novel in verse about the systems that perpetuate a cycle of violence in black communities. The story is told through a series of short, time-stamped poems as Will rides down an elevator on his way to kill his brother’s killer.

During this short elevator rides, Will encounters the ghosts of people in his life who were victims of violence. They illustrate for him a larger picture as Will decides whether to follow through with his plan.

The writing was incredible. I love how Jason Reynolds makes poetry so gripping and accessible. This is also an incredibly important and emotional story for young adult readers. As a teacher, this is one of the top book recs I see every year for secondary students. I’m so glad I finally took the time to read this (which was not very much time at all) so I can add it and the graphic novel adaptation to my classroom library.

Review: Home Body by Rupi Kaur

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Title: Home Body
Author: Rupi Kaur
Genre: Poetry
Audience: Adult
Format: Paperback
Length: 192 pages
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Release Date: November 17, 2020
Source: Personal collection
Content Warnings: sexual assault, abuse, racism, misogyny

SYNOPSIS

Rupi Kaur constantly embraces growth, and in home body, she walks readers through a reflective and intimate journey visiting the past, the present, and the potential of the self. home body is a collection of raw, honest conversations with oneself – reminding readers to fill up on love, acceptance, community, family, and embrace change. Illustrated by the author, themes of nature and nurture, light and dark, rest here.

i dive into the well of my body
and end up in another world
everything i need
already exists in me
there’s no need
to look anywhere else
– home

MY THOUGHTS

This collection explores the mind and the body, how they can feel connected and disconnected. I always admire how open Rupi Kaur is in her poems, baring her soul through her words.

This is probably my least favorite of her collections. Some of her poems are so deep, insightful, and personal, but others felt very generic and surface-level to me, like they could’ve been written by anyone.

Still, many poems speak to me and my experiences, and I can see myself rereading certain poems in times when I need strength.

Review: The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: The Sun and Her Flowers
Author: Rupi Kaur
Genre: Poetry
Audience: Adult
Format: Paperback
Length: 256 pages
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Release Date: October 3, 2017
Source: Personal Collection
Content Warnings: sexual assault, abuse, misogyny

SYNOPSIS

From Rupi Kaur, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of milk and honey, comes her long-awaited second collection of poetry. A vibrant and transcendent journey about growth and healing. Ancestry and honoring one’s roots. Expatriation and rising up to find a home within yourself.

Divided into five chapters and illustrated by Kaur, the sun and her flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming. A celebration of love in all its forms.

this is the recipe of life
said my mother
as she held me in her arms as i wept
think of those flowers you plant
in the garden each year
they will teach you
that people too
must wilt
fall
root
rise
in order to bloom

MY THOUGHTS

Another lovely, emotional poetry collection from Rupi Kaur. I thought that some sections were definitely stronger than others, and that overall the poems improved as the collection progressed. There were enough poems that spoke to me deeply to earn a five star rating.

Review: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: Milk & Honey
Author: Rupi Kaur
Genre: Poetry
Audience: Adult
Format: Paperback
Length: 204 pages
Publisher: Andrews McMeel
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Source: Personal collection
Recommended for fans of: confessional/feminist poetry
Content Warnings: rape, abuse

SYNOPSIS

Milk and honey’ is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. About the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose. Deals with a different pain. Heals a different heartache. ‘milk and honey’ takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.

MY THOUGHTS

I wish I had read this sooner, but I know these words came into my life right when I needed them most. These poems of love and breaking and healing filled my soul and brought tears to my eyes. This collection is a love letter to women, their bodies, and the amazing things that happen when we seek love from within instead of validation from others.

Review: The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One by Amanda Lovelace

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One
Author: Amanda Lovelace
Series: Women Are Some Kind of Magic #3
Genre: Poetry
Audience: Adult
Format: Paperpack
Length: 208 pages
Publisher: Andrews McMeel
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Source: Personal collection
Recommended for fans of: confessional poetry
Content Warnings: see book for a comprehensive trigger warnings
Series Reviews: (1) The Princess Saves Herself in This One, (2) The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One

SYNOPSIS

Goodreads Choice Award-winning poet and USA TODAY bestselling author Amanda Lovelace presents the mermaid’s voice returns in this one — the third and final installment in her “women are some kind of magic” series, featuring a foreword from Lang Leav and 13 guest poems from leading voices in poetry such as Nikita Gill, KY Robinson, and Orion Carloto.

The mermaid is known for her siren song, luring bedroom-eyed sailors to their demise. However, beneath these misguided myths are tales of escapism and healing, which Lovelace weaves throughout this empowering collection of poetry, taking you on a journey from the sea to the stars. They tried to silence her once and for all, but the mermaid’s voice returns in this one.

MY THOUGHTS

I loved the way Amanda Lovelace shared her trauma and healing in hauntingly beautiful ways. Again, this collection was more focused on one topic than The Princess Saves Herself in This One, which made it more cohesive and effective.

I also really loved how the last section included poems from contributors, connecting Lovelace’s personal journey to a more universal experience of womanhood. I am excited to look up the contributing poets and read more of their works!

Review: The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One
Author: Amanda Lovelace
Series: Women Are Some Kind of Magic #2
Genre: Poetry
Audience: Adult
Format: Paperback
Length: 191 pages
Publisher: Andrews McMeel
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Source: Personal collection
Recommended for fans of: women
Content Warnings: child abuse, intimate partner abuse, sexual assault, eating disorders, trauma, death, murder… a list of triggers is included at the beginning of the book

SYNOPSIS

The witch: supernaturally powerful, inscrutably independent, and now—indestructible. These moving, relatable poems encourage resilience and embolden women to take control of their own stories. Enemies try to judge, oppress, and marginalize her, but the witch doesn’t burn in this one.

MY THOUGHTS

These poems spoke to me a lot more than her first book. The writing was more consistent, the word choice was more effective, and the transitions between poems were smoother. Amanda Lovelace grew a lot as a writer since The Princess Saves Herself in This One.

Sadly, I could relate to every poem in this collection about womanhood and commentary on the patriarchy and rape culture.

I loved the red text and the symbolism of fire throughout the book. These poems reminded me that I am strong and confident on my own and that women need to support other women.

Review: The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Title: The Princess Saves Herself in This One
Author: Amanda Lovelace
Series: Women are Some Kind of Magic #1
Genre: Poetry
Audience: Adult
Format: Paperback
Length: 156 pages
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Release Date: April 23, 2016
Source: Personal collection
Recommended for fans of: fairy tales, feminist poetry
Content Warnings: abuse, sexual assault, self-harm, suicide (the book includes a more comprehensive list of trigger warnings)

SYNOPSIS

“Ah, life- the thing that happens to us while we’re off somewhere else blowing on dandelions & wishing ourselves into the pages of our favorite fairy tales.”

A poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, & you. the princess, the damsel, & the queen piece together the life of the author in three stages, while you serves as a note to the reader & all of humankind. Explores life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations.

MY THOUGHTS

This is a case where I wanted to read this book for so long and I heard so many great things about it that I set my expectations a bit too high for this to blow me away, but I still loved it.

I was blown away by the raw honesty of her words and how much emotion she packed such short poems. However, I prefer my confessional poetry a bit more lyrical than this. Lots of poems wowed me, but I found the execution a bit uneven, particularly when it came to the transitions from poem to poem when the subject changed.

Overall, I enjoyed this emotional feminist poetry, and I look forward to reading the rest of this series.

Review: At War with Stars by R.R. Noall

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: At War with Stars
Author: R.R. Noall
Genre: Poetry
Audience: Adult
Format: Paperback
Length: 102 pages
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: October 30, 2020
Source: Author

SYNOPSIS

Along life’s path, there are so many unanswered questions. Poet R.R. Noall explores self-discovery, sense of place, and identity in her third poetry collection, At War with Stars. Are you seeking answers? Are you finding them too? This poetry collection was written for you.

MY THOUGHTS

I forgot how the soul craves poetry. It has been a few years since I’ve read a poetry collection, but I devoured Noall’s poetry, which explores nature and self. Her command of language was breathtaking, heartbreaking, and fulfilling. This spoke to me so much that I took a picture of my favorite poem (“Gone”) to set as my phone background. I highly recommend this collection, and it has inspired me to make reading poetry regularly one of my 2021 reading goals. I also must say that totally in love with this cover, but the inside of this book is even more beautiful.

Thank you to author R.R. Noall for gifting me a signed copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: Clap When You Land
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Genre: Novel in Verse/Contemporary
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Hardcover
Length: 432 pages
Publisher: Quill Tree Books
Release Date: May 5, 2020
Source: Personal collection
CW: sexual assault, stalking, infidelity, plane crash, death of parent

SYNOPSIS

In a novel-in-verse that brims with grief and love, National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other. 

MY THOUGHTS

This writing was STUNNING. The poetry was beautifully crafted and the storytelling blew me away. An unthinkable tragedy revealed a betrayal that deeply hurt two families with no possibility of forgiveness. The parallel stories were perfectly juxtaposed and intertwined. I loved the focus on diverse women who react differently to circumstances and try to find the best way to survive. While the verse format makes this a quick read, these complex and complicated characters will stick with you long after you finish reading.