Mini Review Roundup [17/06]

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

This was fast paced and brilliantly written, definitely worth a read. I did, however, spend 99% of this novel going:

flight is a magazine collection of poetry and prose. It’s going to take me a while to get through them all, but there are some great poems in here! I especially liked ‘Kite Flying’ by Arian Farhat. I love poems that can tell a story while weaving in lovely turns of phrase.

the golden eagle soared over
the dusty dry lands
perhaps my family looked
up once in a while and
saw it circling overhead,
a blessing, a curse, or a spell in reverse

Absolutely lovely writing! I can’t wait to check out the rest of flight. If you’re a fan of poetry, check this collection out for yourself here.

Uncanny Magazine Poetry Roundup [14/06]

I managed to read a good few poems today, yay! (/◕ヮ◕)/

Uncanny Magazine Issue 3: March/April 2015

First, the cover of this issue is *everything*!

‘Cloudbending’ by Jennifer Crow was wonderful.

If mortal hands could map the skies,
make clouds into countries
or sunsets into salvation,
what strange markets would open

I loved this part especially. The whole poem just flows so well. Read it for yourself here.

‘Deep Bitch’ by C. S. E. Cooney was also very striking and had some great lines.

She tuns her blunted head my way.
Nips me, rips me open slightly.
Her smile is all teeth.

*chills* Read it for yourself here.

Uncanny Magazine Issue 8: January/February 2016

‘tended, tangled, and veined’ by Kayla Whaley was beautifully intense and raw. It’s a story in a poem and I love the imagery Whaley uses!

she practiced her girlhood with heat–stricken hair, sheared nails, scrubbed skin.
she baptized herself with fat wrung from beans and battered into butter.
she oiled her joints with poise,
scented her flesh with propriety,
and clothed herself in performance.
she practiced girlhood,
but she never quite perfected it.

I thoroughly recommend this poem and I can’t wait to read the rest of this issue. Some seriously good writing here. Read it for yourself here.

Uncanny Magazine Issue 9: March/April 2016

OH MY GOSH ‘FOXGIRL CYCLE SONG: 1‘ IS SO GOOD.

Trap her in thorn, and she’ll slip her skin
Drown her in water, she’ll learn to swim
Burn her, she’ll turn into smoke and wind
Think you can catch her?
Well, think again

This poem is by C. S. E. Cooney and I’m SHOOK. What a fantastic poem! Read it for yourself here.

‘The Book of Forgetting’ by Jennifer Crow was also great!

You taught me heaven is not a place, but
the magic circle drawn around two souls

I loved the emotion in this one. Read it for yourself here.

Uncanny Magazine Issue 11: July/August 2016

I started this issue with ‘The Persecution of Witches’ by Ali Trotta. It gave me chills.

Tell me what ‘legitimate’ means—
how much proof do I need
to convince you
that blood is blood
and bruises are bruises?
Why is my voice a casualty
of violence you won’t examine?

It’s a commentary on modern rape culture and I recommend everyone read it. Very strong, very poignant. Available online here.

Read any poetry lately? I’d love some recommendations!

3 Mini Film Reviews

Reality Bites [2003 | indie, romance, drama] This quiet, understated indie movie is one I wish I’d watched sooner! It stars Winona Ryder, Janeane Garofalo, Ben Stiller and Ethan Hawke. I was really surprised I’d never seen it before! The film follows a group of friends after they graduate from college (or don’t, in some cases) and try to figure out their lives in the adult world. Main character Lelaina moves in with her best friend Vickie, and then their two friends Troy and Sammy also move in. Lelaina works on a television show writing notes for a misogynistic boss that she barely tolerates, Vickie gets a job in sales, and for a while they manage to make it work. On the side, Lelaina is filming her documentary on the side, capturing more quiet, intimate moments of the group and their arrival into adulthood. After Lelaina tosses her cigarette into Michael’s (Ben Stiller) car and causes him to crash, the pair begin to date, much to Troy’s displeasure.

I was surprised to learn that Ben Stiller directed this one! I had no idea! I’m surprised it took me so long, because I adore the cast and have always liked Ben Stiller’s and Winona Ryder’s movies. If you like romantic indie movies à la Before Sunrise, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or 10 Things I Hate About You, give this a go!

Lady Bird [2017| drama, indie, coming of age] This film follows a young girl getting ready for college and her struggling relationship with her mother. It’s set in Sacramento where Lady Bird, the main girl, is about to graduate from her strict Catholic high school and is dealing with the complicated road ahead of her. Her mother wants her to stay in California, she wants to go to New York. She’s at odds with her mother’s standards and views, but it’s clear that they love each other. Every time they fight, they make up. The dramatics are contrasted by the sweet moments, and I’d say it’s more of a mother-daughter movie than a romance, although there is a love interest in the form of Kyle (Timothée Chalamet).

I really loved Lady Bird (real name Christine) as a character. Saoirse Ronan is a wonderful actress and was at her absolute best in this role. I love the dynamics between Lady Bird and her mother, and Lady Bird and her father, as well as her friendship with Julie. It’s a touching independent movie and has that ‘real feel’ to it.

Accepted [2006 | comedy, new adult] is one of my favourite silly comedies. It stars Justin Long, Columbus Short, Maria Thayer, Blake Lively and Jonah Hill. The movie centres upon Bartleby Gaines after he’s rejected from every college he applies to. In a desperate attempt to get his father off his back, Bartleby fakes a college acceptance letter and website with the help of his friends who also struggled to get into school. The website accidentally accepts everyone who tries to apply, however, and dozens of kids show up on the ‘first day of school’. Once he realises how much it means to everyone there, Bartleby decides to continue with it and very soon the students are running the asylum-turned-faux-college. It’s not a particularly plausible movie, but I really do adore the lightness of it. The movie has a good message about being true to yourself and the main characters are all likeable. If you’re looking for something feel good and fun, I totally recommend this one!

What’s everyone else watching this week?

Mini Review Roundup [07/06]

I am playing let’s-read-all-the-books-at-once, apparently, and keep picking up and putting down really great books that I’m just not in the right mood for, but one that I devoured this week is The Poet X. I wholeheartedly recommend it! The story follows Xiomara Batista, a budding poet stifled by her super religious family and is told in verse.

‘This is where the poems are,’ I say, thumping a fist against my chest. ‘Will you burn me? Will you burn me, too? You would burn me, wouldn’t you, if you could?’

It’s very poetic and poignant, and if you listen to the audiobook version, the author herself reads it. 🙂 I’m definitely going to be picking up Clap When You Land and With the Fire on High.

I also watched 13th, which is Ava DuVernay’s documentary on the history of the prison system and slavery in the United States. If you haven’t seen it, make sure you watch it! Very harrowing, but very important stuff.

Currently reading;

(Audio)Book Review: Days Without End by Sebastian Barry

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry, narrated by Aidan Kelly [lgbt+, historical fiction]

that strange love between us. Like when you fumblin’ about in the darkness and you light a lamp, and the light comes up and rescues things. Objects in a room and the face of the man who seem a dug-up treasure to you. John Cole seems a food; bread of Earth. The lamplight touching his eyes and another light answering.

5 HEARTS-IN-MY-EYES STARS for Thomas McNulty, Handsome John Cole, little Winona, and an epic historical fiction novel whose central cast is a gay couple and their adopted daughter.

A man’s memory might have only a hundred clear days in it and he has lived thousands. Can’t do much about that. We have our store of days and we spend them like forgetful drunkards. I ain’t got no argument with it, just saying it is so.

*faints from prose fangirling*

We knew what to do with nothing. We were at home there.

READ IT. READ IT. READ IT.

(Audio)Book Review: The Last Romeo [2018]

The Last Romeo by Justin Myers, narrated by Joe Jameson [lgbt+, contemporary, comedy]

‘If only men knew how charming, how attractive it is to admit fault. To say they fudged it, to confess they don’t know something, to be willing to learn. It’s hot. Refreshing. […] It is all powerful. But men must come to this conclusion themselves. They can’t be told. They don’t like to be told.’

The Last Romeo is an utterly charming novel! It follows James on his quest to find love and the problems that come from being too open on the internet. After his breakup with his long term beau Adam, he begins documenting his attempts at navigating the dating world on a blog, vaguely keeping things anonymous but not quite as anonymous as he probably should have been. Along the way, he meets numerous kinds of men. The dates range from the utterly awkward, to the gross and uncomfortable (the description of one man’s bathroom will stay with me for ETERNITY), to the heart-fluttery and love-struck.

James, or ‘Jim’, makes a lot of mistakes in his quest for the perfect man. He gets bitter, even mean in his blog posts, but the other characters are quick to point out his bitchy moments and don’t shy away from telling him when he’s in the wrong. I quite liked the background characters as well, which is hugely important for a story. His friends Bella, Richie and Nicole, and little Hayden are all awesome; Nate, the (closeted) sports star, was adorable and totally stole my heart; then there’s Finn, the writer, and Luca, the blog fan who James gets to know over months of posts. They’re all very well rounded. You get more characters on the dates, but those really stick out in my mind. There’s also James’ rival at work and his dealings with his boss, both of which come up quite often throughout the novel.

I adored Nate especially. PROTECT NATE AT ALL COSTS. But James does spend a good bit of time thinking about his actions and reflecting; he admits his faults and tries to change. There’s good character growth. He acknowledges enjoying the fame his blog eventually brings him and how it negatively impacted his own view of things. He also gets some very sage advice: ‘If you don’t give your critics any meat, they can’t tear it from your bones.

My prediction of the ending changed a few times and I kept wanting him to end up with different characters at different points. Ultimately, I quite liked the ending! If you’re looking for a fun rom-com novel, I totally recommend this one. And I’m definitely adding the author’s new novel The Magnificent Sons to my list.

{signal boost} The Torture Letters: Reckoning with Police Violence (2020) | free download!

!!! FREE FOR A WEEK !!!

The author posted on Twitter that his book is free for the next week, and what a fine time to add this one to your library. Go to Chicago University Press to get it. | Goodreads to add.

‘Between 1972 and 1991, approximately 125 African American suspects were tortured by police officers in Chicago. […] Beyond these verified instances, in 2003 journalists documented other episodes of torture before and after these dates, and elsewhere in the city, placing the total number of survivors of police torture in Chicago at roughly two hundred.’

#blacklivesmatter

Films, Poems and Currently Reading Roundup and Review Post [02/06]

JONAS (2018) | lgbt+, french, drama

Jonas [aka I Am Jonas] is a gut-punching, haunting addition to lgbt+ films. The film follows the eponymous main character Jonas after he’s arrested on night out at a club, Boys. One of the police officers knows him from school and they reminisce for a little while in the back of the car. The film then begins flashing from the past to the present and we learn how Jonas ended up so angry and adrift. We see Jonas as a teenager meeting Nathan, a new boy in school. They quickly fall in love and, despite homophobic peers, start a relationship that’s kind, sweet and supported by Nathan’s mother, who also welcomes Jonas into her home.

Back in the present, Jonas follows a man around the city, keeping his distance until he goes into a hotel where the man works. They talk a little. The man doesn’t know him, but it’s clear Jonas knows the man. After setting off the smoke alarm in his room and getting kicked out, the pair start to talk in the lobby. When Jonas is invited to go drinking, he accepts, and we slowly start to learn more.

The story moves along with slow determination. There’s clearly some mystery to be unfolded. This is definitely a heavy kind of drama. Prepare for tears. I do recommend it, though. Félix Maritaud is an incredible actor and I really want to see him in more films! A very well done film over all.

Mr. Right (2015) | action, comedy, romance

Okay, I honestly really liked this one. It’s silly and over the top and implausible and ridiculously good fun, and it is totally worth a watch! The movie follows Martha (played by Anna Kendrick), a risk-seeking woman who’s allergic to good advice and wise decisions, and Francis (played by Sam Rockwell), a notorious killer for hire, apparently (?) and former spy, allegedly (?). Basically, you’re not sure what’s up with Francis for most of the movie, or whether he’s good or bad, but he’s clearly had a lot of training and is good at dancing and has enemies coming out of his ears. Oh, and he wears a clown nose. You’re just not told why for a good bit. You only know that he’s kind to Martha and completely honest with her. (She thinks he’s joking when he talks about his job and how he got his scar.)

I think what I liked so much about this one was how honest and straight to the point all the characters were. There was no side-stepping around topics or slow, predictable build up. It’s kind of like when you’re watching a movie about someone first learning about magic and they keep denying it and you’re like, c’mon, just believe in it already. This movie isn’t fantasy, it’s action, but it’s great that the characters just jump straight to the point.

Martha and Francis are clearly made for each other (and clearly on a frequency that no one in their lives finds normal), but they suit each other. And their chemistry is fantastic. If you like fun, romance and action, I recommend giving this one a shot!

POEMS POEMS POEMS (/◕ヮ◕)/ Seriously, why don’t I read poetry more often? I’ve read so many poems this weekend and I have missed poetry. *chef’s kiss* These poems are all from Uncanny Magazine Issue 21.

‘Found Discarded: A Love Poem, Questionably Addressed’ by Cassandra Khaw was absolutely breath-taking.

The Greeks believed
that a human being
is one entity unseamed at the spine,
opened at the breastbone, parted at
the lips, which is why we spend all our lives pressing
together at the hips, at the fingertips

RIGHT?! How lush. I’m in awe. Read it here.

‘The Fairies in the Crawlspace’ by Beth Cato is so dark and twisted and really, really well done. If you like Grimm’s faerie tales, this one is for you.

the fairies needed no web
to snare the girl

Read it here.

די ירושה by Sonya Taaffe is short and poignant. I really liked it!

History drops a hot potato in your hands,
tells you to walk uphill with it, both ways.

Read it here.

I also quite liked ‘The Sea Never Says It Loves You’ by Fran Wilde. Poems about the sea are some of my favourites.

But the water is warm and the salt spray tastes your lips
And you say yes.

Read it here.

I hope everyone has a lovely week. Stay safe out there, my friends.

Poetry Roundup & Mini Reviews [01/06]

Uncanny Magazine Issue 26

I’m definitely on a poetry kick. There are some seriously wonderful poems published by Uncanny! I do find there’s not enough poetry these days. Which is such a shame. Poetry’s so fantastic. #poetrystan

In this issue, I’ve so far read ‘Steeped in Stars’ by Hal Y. Zhang, which was beautiful. Some great turns of phrase!

but the ghost
of the old stone wall still
streams your meteor shower

Read it for yourself here.

Jennifer Crow’s ‘Red Berries’ was also wonderful.

Tell me what the winter whispered to you

Read it for yourself here.

Cassandra Khaw’s ‘A Letter from One Woman to Another’ was fantastic. This one was probably my favourite from this collection! There’s something very raw and brutal about it.

not love he proffers, but lies
by the dozen, semen-thick and
serpent-slick.

Read it for yourself here.

I also read ‘The Watchword’ by Sonya Taaffe.

a song must outlive its singer
or it dims bitter in a land of milk and honey

That line really struck me. I kept rereading it. Read the whole poem for yourself here.

Uncanny Magazine Issue 27

The poems in this are beautiful! I’ve read three so far and I recommend them all! The word play is just lovely.

a city whose heartbeat I’m learning to carry
in a pocket left of a sound like the word home

‘things you don’t say to city witches’ by Cassandra Khaw. Read it here.

I never liked the trick
with the girl and the swords.

‘Other Forms of Conjuring the Moon’ by Chloe N. Clark. Read it here.

aromas of caramel arnibal mingle with
the tangy bite of auburn dust

‘Taho’ by D.A. Xiaolin Spires. Read it here.

Uncanny Magazine Issue 28

The fire is her mother’s arms, it is the love
in her mother’s breast, as hot as a train furnace.
If you have that kind of love, not even death
can defeat it.

AMAZING POEM IS AMAZING.

Theodora Goss’s ‘The Cinder Girl Burns Brightly’ is definitely worth a read. It’s Cinderella with a twist. Read it here.

Uncanny Magazine Issue 30

I started with ‘Monsters & Women—Beneath Contempt’ by Roxanna Bennett.

Dismiss reversal of promises & missing curatives,
who notices holes in the old narrative

Read it here.

I really liked all of the poems I read from these issues. It’s reminded me that I ought to take the time to read more poetry. Let alone write more poetry.

Also, aren’t these covers so beautiful?

Anyone have any favourite places to find current poetry? 🙂