Monday, May 13, 2013

Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos

Perhaps it's my obsessive nature with words but my favorite books are those about other books and the importance of words. I love books that focus on poetry and books. Those characters are always the most relatable to me because of how much I love words too.

I was immediately drawn to this book because of the title and the gorgeous cover. I've been loving this new trend I've seen in books of having very unique titles. Titles that are very interesting to read and draw you in. And this cover is just so lovely.

It was so cute and so interesting to look at. And anything about poets or poetry sucks me in immediately. This book is about a Whitman-obsessed boy named James Whitman. James struggles with depression and anxiety in a very stifling family. To cope he recites Walt Whitman every morning, hugs trees, and writes poetry so he could learn to celebrate himself as Walt Whitman celebrated himself with a resounding, defiant YAWP! 

James loves his sister Jorie who for some reason has been kicked out of her house, a problem that grips James as he tries to continue through his junior year in an explosive, but also apathetic household ran by distant parents. 

Maybe it's because it's a subject that hits so close to home, or because it feels incredibly relatable to me, but I love books about depression and struggle. It's an area that is so important and so crucial to understand. It was frustrating in this book to watch people misunderstand James when he tried to express his depression. His parents, in a very heartbreaking scene, told him that he didn't have a reason to be as sad as he was. He lives in a decent house with clothes and food and his health. James starts to believe them and questions why he feels the way he does.

What I loved about this book was that it let you know, in a very nonjudgmental and very encouraging way that it is OK to feel depressed even though your circumstances aren't by right the worst. Depression can happen to anyone and that mental illness is very scary and very hard. If you are struggling with depression, this book will make you feel very supported. I appreciated that a lot. I can't wait to give this book to a few of my friends who struggle this way. 

This book was written so so well. This is an author who I will watch for any time a new book will be released. He had the perfect mixture of gentility with words in sensitive moments and searing sarcasm in others. More often, these both happened in the same moment which made these characters and their speech feel so real. This book felt like how I talk and how my friends talk. James was so cute and such a tender soul. He's a character I cared about instantly.

First lines:

"I yawp most mornings to irritate my father, the Brute.
'Yawp! Yawp!' It moves him out of the bathroom faster.
He responds with the gruff 'All right.' He dislikes things that seem like fun.
I do not yawp like Walt Whitman for fun. Ever since the Brute literally threw my older sister, Jorie, our of the house. I yawp at him because he hates it. My father says reciting Walt Whitman is impractical, irrational. My father says even reading Walt Whitman is a waste of time, despite the fact that we share his last name. My father says Walt Whitman never made a dime, which is not true. I looked it up. Not on Wikipedia but in a book that also said Whitman used to write reviews for Leaves of Grass- his own book!- under fake names.
Who does that? Walt does!
The perfect poet for me. I'm a depressed, anxious kid."

This boy tugged at my heart. He was so sweet and so gentle and so lost. He reminded me a lot of Charlie from Perks of Being a Wallflower. Either we all know someone like James or we are him. Luckily this book is amazing for both types of person. 

So yes, James won me over. But it was Roskos' writing that sank into my mind. He was so honest and so so witty. He has such a fun way with words. Two chapters into the book, James breaks his arm while trying to save a bird... or... a sort of bird. People won't leave him alone about his accident and he responds with:

"At least I'm famous, right? (How many people in history have thought 'At least I'm famous!' for doing something stupid? Probably tons, thanks to YouTube."

I was reading this on my break at work and laughed out loud, which made for a very uncomfortable situation. My favorite situation. He was so clever and fun to read. This book flew by. I couldn't put it down!

My other favorite passage in this book was clearly a reference to hipster kids, my people (HA):

"By seven-forty-five I've narrowed my outfit choices down, but every time I put on a shirt I feel like a dork. The arm cast doesn't help. I want to look normal, inconspicuous, approachable, but also somewhat invisible. I have a black Radiohead shirt with a bunch of white houses on it. It suggests I have good taste in music but also that I need to let everyone know I have good taste in music."

I love our generation. Social media has made life so hard and so awkward and judgmental. It's all such fun, just like this book.

But within the fun, there are some very striking moments of sorrow that are just lovely. 

"I know my parents aren't swinging by her apartment for coffee, cake, and a quick smack. She and I seem to be poisoned with sadness in our blood."

That sentence feels like depression. You can't explain where this pain generates from, it's just there seeping through your veins. 

Do not miss out on this book. It's delicate and light, but also has such a wonderful subdued power behind it that will leave you wanting more. It was a perfect little read. 

Until next time, happy reading! I'd love to hear any recommendations you have for me, or your thoughts about anything I've read. Leave your comments below; I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Hello darlings. I just wrote a post about The Great Gatsby, which is my forever favorite novel, over on my personal blog. I feel that this blog is of vital importance. And since it is about my favorite book, I thought it was only appropriate to link it here. This book defined who I am as a reader and a writer. And just.. who I am as a person.

Please check out my post about Gatsby here.

I'll be posting a book review here tomorrow as well :)

You are lovely. Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Hello readers! So, this blog is now on Bloglovin! Spread the love of books and blogs! Thanks guys :)

A new book post will be coming up very soon.

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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Hello lovelies!

I don't know about you, but I know that my youth was spent reading the book series by Lemony Snicket, The Series of Unfortunate Events. I still read those books because they are that well written, that funny, and that amazing. I'm slowly working my way back through the series whenever I just need a little book to fill an afternoon. (I even wrote a blog post about The Bad Beginning about a year ago.)

After discovering like everyone else did that Lemony Snicket was an amazing pen name (If I just ruined your childhood.. I am so very sorry. This is like that time I told the last two 13 year olds on Earth the ending of Romeo and Juliet and they just started crying... my bad. Belated spoiler alerts all around.) I was excited to find out that Daniel Handler, the winner behind Snicket, had written a young adult novel! I couldn't believe it! Probably my favorite childhood author was now writing books in my favorite genre.

I grabbed a copy when I finally knew I had some time to read the book in what I expected would be one sitting. The cover was marvelous, a little off and strange, just like his middle grade book series. I expected nothing less.

The book has amazing art at the beginnings of each chapter. I just loved how colorful this book looked and felt. I was excited to see how the usual sad story of a break up would be twisted by Handler, who was always able to make a horrible situation bearable with expert dark humor. 

The book is about a girl named Min. (her full name is Minerva... it's a long story, and she'll tell you all about it.) She is returning a box of memories to her now ex boyfriend Ed Slaterton, her complete opposite and her first love. This book is her letter to him accompanying the items gathered during their time together.

First lines:

"Dear Ed, In a sec you'll hear a thunk. At your front door, the one nobody uses. It'll rattle the hinges a bit when it lands, because it's so weighty and important, a little jangle along with the thunk, and Joan will look up from whatever she's cooking. She will look down in her saucepan, worried that if she goes to see what it is it'll boil over. I can see her frown in the reflection of the bubbly sauce or whatnot. But she'll go, she'll go and see. You won't, Ed. You wouldn't. You're upstairs probably, sweaty and alone. You should be taking a shower, but you're heartbroken on the bed, I hope, so it's your sister, Joan, who will open the door even though the thunk's for you. You won't even know or hear what's being dumped at your door. You won't even know why it even happened."

I automatically loved Min as well as the premise of the book. Throughout the book, I always loved Min. She had the lady balls to do something I always wanted to do to ex boyfriends but never did. Go Min, go! Min was sassy and real throughout the novel. My heart ached for her as she fell deeper in love with Ed and it felt like comforting a friend as I read her words, knowing that as she wrote the letter to Ed, she was healing. She felt like my sister. I wanted her to get over her butthead ex, and I wanted to help. 

Min was described beautifully throughout the book. She was described annoyingly often by the people around her as "different" and "arty," words I have heard to describe me a fair few times. She doesn't see herself as that way. She sees herself as simply Min. Unremarkable. Person. Girl. And someone who has remarkably caught the interest of Ed Slaterton, hottie of all hotties.

Min was the best part of the entire book. However... I absolutely HATED Ed Slaterton. Like Min, he was nothing at all my type. He was the captain of the basketball team, he likes beer, he is a serial dater and dumper who has probably slept with half of the cheerleaders. Basically, he is the person I avoid. He is the person Min avoids until they end up talking at a party he crashes. 

The problem I had with Ed was that I saw literally nothing likable about this boy. Nothing at all. Not even in the little moments when he was sweet to Min, or when he told her he loved her before she even told him. The only thing I saw was a manipulator who was only going to hurt her. Which... I still haven't decided if this was the intention of the author. If it was, this book was amazing. I just feel like I wanted something to like about him. Even though I knew the breakup was coming, even as I assumed before I heard the whole story that it was his fault, I wanted to see a shadow of what Min saw in him. The problem was that I didn't. I thought he was a jerk from start to finish, which made the book a bit hard to read.

Along with Ed being the literal worst, the writing of the book was very difficult for me to dive in to. The sentences all seemed incredibly long, words were flip-flopped within known phrases, and paragraphs seemed to jump around quite a bit between thoughts. 

In The Series of Unfortunate Events, these long paragraphs that spanned an entire two pages happened quite frequently, which was fine. The twisting words and jumping thoughts matched the heightened reality of the world those books were set in. But because this was such a realistic story, it sort of seemed out of place for such word tricks. I just wanted a story told directly to me with no word jumps. The super crazy language didn't seem to match a story that is so real and so relatable. 

Along with that, Min is a huge film junkie, which is great! The issue I had was that she would reference all of these films from their world and actors in those films and how those stories related to her life. I loved it the first time it happened. I loved the dedication Handler had to their world and by being so dedicated he made it feel real to me. The issue I had was that these analogies between the story and movies happened so frequently and seemed to just appear in the middle of paragraphs. They were a bit hard to follow because of the sentence length. They seemed to ramble on and on and on and the references were all above my head. Pretty brilliant actually, since the letter is written to Ed, who would have the same reaction as I did. Well played, Daniel Handler, well played.

This review all seems rather harsh. I did enjoy the book once I finally sat down and read for an extended period of time. Behind the twisted words was a story I loved and a character I really cared about. The parts that were written realistically really bit at my soul and reminded me of a few very hard breakups. It was amazing how much I related to Min and this tory. I've read break up stories before. What was great about this was that Min was allowed to stay angry at Ed for hurting her. So many break up books are about a character healing and realizing that that person, although not right for them, is still a good person even though they broke their heart. I LOVED that Min recognized that Ed was a jerk and let herself feel that. 

She sees that he's a jerk, but she also knows that she really did love him. That's where her confusion is and really, where my confusion from a few relationships has been since we broke up. It was beautiful to read about how Min loved Ed, as jerky as he was.

"I'm telling you why we broke up, Ed. I'm writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened. And the truth is that I goddamn loved you so much."

Did you hear that? That was my heart ripping into 800 pieces. I know that feeling. That damn love that won't die just because the boy is a jerk. Just because you know you deserve better doesn't mean you can stop loving him. This book showed that a lot, something I think is valuable for people to know. People aren't told a lot that it's ok to love someone after something has ended. It's ok to be melancholy and sad before you move on. It's ok to grieve. 

It was also really fun to have a book written toward the person who caused the pain, and not written as the character getting over the pain. It was a great release as a reader. In a lot of ways this book helped me get over a few break ups by letting Min say some things to Ed I've wanted to say before. 

All in all, I'd give this book 3.5 stars out of 5. I would really recommend this book to anyone who has felt the pain of a break up or just wants to meet a few characters who are fun to get to know. This was a fun book to read, and it's a story and a character I won't forget soon. 

Until next time, happy reading! I'd love to hear any recommendations you have for me, or your thoughts about anything I'v read. Leave your comments below; I'd love to hear from you!