Posted in Book Reviews, General Books, Poetry

Pillow Thoughts III: Mending the Mind by Courtney Peppernell – #ARC #BookReview

Goodreads: Pillow Thoughts III: Mending the Mind
Publish Date: 06 August 2019
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Genre: Poetry
Panda Rating:

In a voice that is inclusive and open to all, Courtney Peppernell presents a tribute to her readers in the third installment of her bestselling Pillow Thoughts series.
A beautifully raw and poignant collection of poetry and prose, Pillow Thoughts III continues the series from poet Courtney Peppernell. Fix yourself a warm drink and settle into Peppernell’s words as she pens a tribute to her readers who are bravely continuing their journey from hurt to healing.

I didn’t know that Peppernell was coming out with another Pillow Thoughts book, but when I saw that the title was “mending the mind” I knew I had to read it. I love a good book of poetry and prose that I can connect with and I’ve done that with Pillow Thoughts I & II, although I connected most with Pillow Thoughts I. I still enjoyed this read though. Peppernell’s poetry/prose is simple yet effective in reaching into the hearts and minds of her readers to either give a gentle nudge or hug. There is an undercurrent of hope that runs through the words and ties them together in this book. That said, I do wish that I felt more connected to the work in this book, but there was a lot here that I felt was a little ‘recycled’ and nothing that I hadn’t heard of before.

As always though, when Peppernell speaks a thought that resonates with me, it gets me hard, and right in the heart! I teared up reading the chapter on “if your mind needs repairing” and I felt hopeful reading “if your mind needs inspiration”. I’ve been struggling a lot with my mental health over the last few months and reading some of these passages really got to me. They were a small reminder to keep going and to believe and trust that I’m much stronger than I think I am; especially for making it this far in life when every single day is a struggle.

“There is nothing beautiful
about wishing
you’d never been born
There’s nothing poetic
about believing
you are a burden
There is nothing sadder
than thinking
you’re ruining the lives
of the people you love
But there is nothing
stronger than you
I am in awe of the way you live
even with all these dark thoughts
You are brave in the way
you begin again each day”

Probably my favorite part of this book is still the illustration of the jellyfish; which is me, and you, and us. I wish that the illustrations weren’t only shown at the start of each new section, but used throughout the book! Overall, even though this didn’t end up being a favorite, I’m still glad that I read it.

Thanks to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book is now available for purchase! Have you read any of Courtney Peppernell’s Pillow Thoughts? What do you think? Let’s chat in the comments!

Posted in Book Reviews, General Books, Historical Fiction, Poetry

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini – #BookReview

Goodreads: Sea Prayer
Genre: Fiction, Poetry, Short Story, Picture Book
Rating:

A short, powerful, illustrated book written by Khaled Hosseini in response to the current refugee crisis, Sea Prayer is composed in the form of a letter, from a father to his son, on the eve of their journey. Watching over his sleeping son, the father reflects on the dangerous sea-crossing that lies before them. It is also a vivid portrait of their life in Homs, Syria, before the war, and of that city’s swift transformation from a home into a deadly war zone. Impelled to write this story by the haunting image of young Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed upon the beach in Turkey in September 2015, Hosseini hopes to pay tribute to the millions of families, like Kurdi’s, who have been splintered and forced from home by war and persecution.

A short but impactful read. Hosseini knows how to tug on readers’ heartstrings even in a book as short as this one! This touches upon on issue that will remain relevant in many years to come!

Sea Prayer isn’t so much a book as it is actually a heartfelt prayer. One that has undoubtedly fallen off the tongues of the countless thousands who have fled their communities, homes and families to avoid war, death and destruction, for a chance of survival in an unknown land. This story was inspired by Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy who died when his family fled across the sea. That little boy whose body washed upon the shore in 2015, and whose image was splashed across newsfeeds all over the world for months, that called desperate attention to the refugee crisis.

It’s so easy for us watching from thousands of miles away to feel sadness, frustration and despair when hearing/reading/watching the news about the war and refugee crises taking place in parts of the world the majority of us have never been to, and most likely never will. It is easy to think that we can understand the plight of these families based on what we’re fed, but really, imagining what it’s like to be forced to flee the only life you’ve known just to ensure that you and your family stay alive? That’s a different kind of fear. In this short story book filled with beautiful illustrations, Khaled Hosseini, with his ability to transport and immerse readers into foreign worlds with his words, was able to give us an idea of what the fear might be like. But he not only captures the fears, but the beautiful memories and the hopes.

“But that life, that time,
seems like a dream now,
even to me,
like some long-dissolved rumor.

First came the protests.
Then the siege.

The skies spitting bombs.
Starvation.
Burials.

These are the things you know.” 

This is a heavy book. It literally took me 5 minutes to read this but within those 5 minutes, Hosseini was able to evoke in me feelings of hope, sorrow and despair. Of course, my eyes were no longer dry. He paints a vivid picture of a bustling city life and the war torn communities that suffer the consequences of the actions of those filled with greed, hatred and pride. Often times we become so desensitized to the news we hear every day that we forget these people who are fleeing and suffering have stories of a life just the same as you and me. They are not just a large group of people with nowhere to go. Each and every refugee that makes it across that sea is not just another number to add to the growing masses. Every refugee is human. With all the bad news that makes it to our screens every day, sometimes I think we forget that they are people who each have their own story; and this is simply one of them.

Short but impactful, this book feeds into a dialogue that will continue to be relevant for many years to come. Khalid Hosseini will donate all proceeds from this book to the UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) and The Khaled Hosseini Foundation to help fund lifesaving relief efforts to help refugees around the globe.

Have you read Sea Prayer? What did you think of it?
Leave me a comment below and let’s chat!

Posted in Book Reviews, General Books, Poetry

Between You and These Bones by F.D. Soul – #ARC #BookReview

Goodreads: Between You and these Bones
Publish Date: 14 May 2019
Genre: Poetry
Rating: ★★½☆☆☆

First of all, this cover and the title are simply beautiful. They are what made me pick up this collection in the first place because this is my first encounter with F.D. Soul, so I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book.

I wanted so much to love this poetry collection but I didn’t connect with the majority of the work. I’m not a heavy reader of poetry, I dabble here and there, so I don’t know if that was the cause of most of the words flying over my head. I did connect to some of them though; there were poems or certain lines in poems that would jump out at me and make me think “wow, this is so beautiful” and then I’d wish that I felt that way about the whole collection. Most of the ones that I connected with related to their experience of discovering love, finding home, and dealing with dark moments and fighting “that battle” (mental health, depression). I wished there was more that I connected to! The illustrations were beautiful and although there weren’t that many, I thought they illustrated the poems they were made for so well. While reading I was thinking that I could see these illustrations being made into tattoos because they’re not unlike ones I’ve already seen inked on skin. I could totally see myself getting one!

I don’t doubt that there will be many people out there who love these poems and feel connected to many of them. For me, this was a nice introduction to F.D. Soul’s work, and although I didn’t connect with many of them, I would still be curious to see what else they’ve made. I’ll definitely be checking out their social sites (@featherdownsoul).

Thanks to NetGalley, the author and Andrews McMeel Publishing for this free copy in exchange for an honest review. Are you a big fan of poetry? This collection comes out 14 May 2019, so be on the lookout if you’re curious!