#ownvoices · Diverse Books · Review

Book Review: Secondhand Origin Stories by Lee Blauersouth (Blog Tour)

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Hi guys! I’m lucky enough to be part of the blog tour for this amazing book called Secondhand Origin Stories, which is a diverse book that involves sensitive issues, such as systemic racism and ableism.  I loved the book, here’s my review:

Secondhand Origin Stories cover.png

Title: Secondhand Origin Stories

Author: Lee Blauersouth

Publishing Date: 15 March 2018

Genres: Science Fiction, YA

Pages: 364

Opal has been planning to go to Chicago and join the Midwest’s superhero team, the Sentinels, since she was a little kid. That dream took on a more urgent tone when her superpowered dad was unjustly arrested for protecting a neighbor from an abusive situation. Now, she wants to be a superhero not only to protect people, but to get a platform to tell the world about the injustices of the Altered Persons Bureau, the government agency for everything relating to superpowers.

But just after Opal’s high school graduation, a supervillain with a jet and unclear motives attacks the downtown home of the Sentinels, and when Opal arrives, she finds a family on the brink of breaking apart. She meets a boy who’s been developing secret (and illegal) brain-altering nanites right under the Sentinel’s noses, another teenage superhero-hopeful who looks suspiciously like a long-dead supervillain, and the completely un-superpowered daughter of the Sentinels’ leader. Can four teens on the fringes of the superhero world handle the corruption, danger, and family secrets they’ve unearthed?

Goodreads | Amazon 

This book drops you right in the middle of a world where superheroes, villains and people with habilities exist, there’s especial goverment agencies and police units that regulate them and there’s corruption and injustice surrounding them. You have to learn about this world as you read, you see how everything works through the chracters’ perspectives and that’s how you learn about it. For me this worked really well, it didn’t take me too long to feel like I understood at least the basics of how the world worked and, after a little bit, I was able to keep up with the story without problem.

Something that I really enjoyed about this book was that it was intriguing from the start, there were secrets and mysteries around the four main characters and they didn’t know the answers either and they were trying to figure things out and that sucked me into the story inmediately, because I wanted to know what was going on.

As I said before, there’s four main characters, which were my favorite aspect of this book. I fell in love very quickly with three of those characters: Isaac, Yael and Jamie. They were the children of the superheroes and they were really complex characters,  a genius scientist, an non-binary aspiring superhero and a character that is both vulnerable and so strong. From the pov of these three characters, the reader gets to see the dynamics of the superhero team and how it is not only a team but a family. That element is crucial to the story, because the complicated family dynamics, which I found fascinating to read about, promt a lot of the events that move the plot along.

Then there’s the fourth main character, Opal, which took me a little longer to love. Opal is an outsider to the team, to the family and she very much felt like an outsider to the story for at least the first half of the book. During that first half, I prefered to read from the other 3 perspectives, because from them I could learn more about all the secrets that were being kept. Later on, when the circumstances made it so that all four characters have to be together in a more full time basis, that’s when I fell in love with Opal as well. She is a nice, smart, compasionate, down to earth character with a strong moral sense.

Secondhand Origin Stories is definitely a character driven book much more than a plot driven one. The main problems that the characters are trying to solve are corruption and injustice in such a large scale that one book is not enough to confront all the different characters that  play a part in that. This book, as the first in the series, manages to: make the characters aware of the problems, makes them decide to do something about it and makes sure that the team is as strong as it can be. It’s defintely a book that’s setting things up, but it’s not boring or slow, there’s so many things happening all the time. There’s one main storyline, that’s really interesting,  about technology and the ethical use of it, that’s one of the first issues that the characters have to confront and it has a direct relation to the corruption and injustice that they are trying to change.

I think it’s important to mention that this is a really diverse book. The main characters are all queer, including a non binary main character.  Also, one of the main characters is a black girl and there’s conversations throughout the book about systematic racism and especially about racial profiling and incarceration of black people. Additionally, there are deaf characters and there are characters that use ASL to communicate, and while there’s ableism portrait in this book, it’s called out and talked about on page.

Rating: 4,5 stars 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lee Blauersouth

After about a decade of drawing comics independently or with small presses, Lee started writing prose out of a combination of peer pressure and spite, then continued out of attachment to their favorite made-up people. They live in Minnesota even though it is clearly not a habitat humans were ever meant to endure, with their lovely wife/editor, the world’s most perfect baby, and books in every room of the house.

If you like categories, they’re an ENFJ Slytherin Leo. If you’re looking for demographics they’re an agender bisexual with a couple of disabilities. If you’re into lists of likes: Lee loves comics, classical art, round animals, tattoos, opera, ogling the shiner sciences, and queer stuff.

Author website | Goodreads | Pinterest  | Twitter

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

23 April (Monday)

24 April (Tuesday)

25 April (Wednesday)

26 April (Thursday)

27 April (Friday)

Review

Book Review: Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

Beneath the sugar sky

Title: Beneath the Sugar Sky

Author: Seanan McGuire

Published by:  tor.com

Publishing date: January 9th 2018

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Pages: 174

Beneath the Sugar Sky returns to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the “real” world. 

Sumi died years before her prophesied daughter Rini could be born. Rini was born anyway, and now she’s trying to bring her mother back from a world without magic.

Goodreads | Amazon 

The premise of this series is fascinating and, as someone that loves fantasy and that has wanted for a big part my life to get to have an adventure in a magical world, this series speaks to me in a very personal way. I’m always in awe of the amount of worldbuilding that Seanan McGuire manages to accomplish in these very short books.  There’s so much creativity and imagination put into creating the different worlds that these kids call home, they all sound unique and whimsical, but there’s so much logic put into the classification of the worlds and that makes it even more interesting.

This third book in the series has a more concrete plot than the second book, which to me made it more enjoyable. The second book was centered around exploring Jack and Jill’s world and getting their backstory, which we already knew how it ended because we had seen them in the first book. Something different happens in this third book, because there is a quest, a purpose, the characters are working toward something and that made me be more invested in the story. 

Nonetheless, the fact that these books are so short sometimes makes it hard for me to get to know the characters and care about them, and that was definitely the case with the characters in this book. I really enjoyed seeing what happened to the characters of the first book, like Nancy, Christopher, Nadya and Kade. Also, I loved the fat rep that the new character that’s introduced, Cora, brought to the story, I really liked her as a character and her responses to everything that was going on were very relatable. BUT I feel like if a new character was gonna be introduced she could have had a more important role in the story. She is there, she is one of the POV characters, but I didn’t see why she was necessary even when I really liked her as a character.

Overall, I really liked the premise, worldbuilding and plot of this book, but I had some trouble  feeling invested and caring about the characters. 

Overall rating: 3,8 stars
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Review

Book Review: Meet Cute by Various Authors

meet cute

Title: Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet

Author: Various Authors

Published by:  HMH Books for Young Readers

Publishing date: January 2nd 2018

Genre: Contemporary, YA, Anthology

Pages: 320

Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. MEET CUTE is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of “how they first met” from some of today’s most popular YA authors. 

Readers will experience Nina LaCour’s beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard’s glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon’s imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno’s story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick’s charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants. 

This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real.

Goodreads | Amazon 

I usually don’t read anthologies, short stories just aren’t my thing, because I almost always end up feeling like I wanted more from them. I only  read this one because I like the concept, I love reading about meet cutes,  and I had heard a lot of great things about it. At the end, I foudn that even if this had highs and lows, like every anthology, there was certain consistency in the stories and I enjoyed most of them.

Here are some thoughts about each individual story:

SIEGE ETIQUETTE by KATIE COTUGNO (2.5 stars) 

This story was told in second person and that didn’t work at all, it kept pulling me out of the story. The main character is unlikeable, which I feel is hard to handle in such a short story, and even when you get the impression that there’s more to her, it’s hard to empathize with her.  Also, the main characters have cero chemestry and I saw the ‘big reveal’ coming, it was pretty obvious.

PRINT SHOP by NINA LACOUR (4 stars) 

This was a very cute f/f couple. All the characters were compelling, even if they only appeared for a couple pages, the set up of the print shop was pretty interesting and it was what I was expecting from this anthology, which was a story that left me with the sense that it was a promising start to something more. I would like to read more this couple.

HOURGLASS by IBI ZOBOI (3 stars) 

This story had some very positive aspects, it addressed race, body image and poverty. Nonetheless, there were too many plot elements for such a short story and the meet cute happened in the last page, so there’s just a few sentences about the guy the main character meets. Honestly, it left me with more questions than answers not only about the romance element, but also about other elements of the plot.

CLICK by KATHERINE MCGEE (5 stars)

This was a really cute story, the concept was interesting and it’s the firt story where the characters get to spend more time together, it’s a longer meet cute. There was some deep to this story since it dealt with grief, shortly but in a very emotional way. Also, the ending was so heartwarming.

THE INTERN by SARA SHEPARD (3 stars) 

I feel like this tried to be a very emotional story from the first moment, but it doesn’t enought time to come to emphatize with the main character. Also, the characters involved in the meet cute didn’t have much chemestry.

SOMEWHERE THAT’S GREEN by MEREDITH RUSSO (5 stars) 

This one was cute and precious and I loved it. It had a f/f romance and one of the chracters was a trans girl and the other a lesbian. This story dealt a lot with transphobia and I do think the conflict was resolved a little too quickly and easily, especially because it was a complex issue, BUT I really liked both characters and in the end the two of them together kind of worked.

THE WAY WE LOVE HERE by DHONIELLE CLAYTON (5 stars) 

This had a really captivating and unique concept, it was the first one to be a bit magical but it worked really well with the other stories. Honestly, I don’t understand how she did so much worldbuilding in such a short stoy and still managed to have compelling charatcers as well. This story almost made me cry, I felt connected to the chracters and I was impacted by what they went throught.

OOMPH by EMERY LORD (5 stars) 

My favorite story! This one was the most adorable story about two girls that meet in an airport. There were amazing characters, good dialogue, so much chemistry and the sense that the meet cute is the beggining of something more. I would love to read more about the two of them.

THE DICTIONARY OF YOU AND ME by JENNIFER L. ARMENTROUT (4stars)

I liked the premise of this one and the funny phone conversations between the main characters. When they actually meet face to face things got awkward for a little while but the ending is really adorable.

THE UNLIKELY LIKELIHOOD OF FALLING IN LOVE by JOCELYN DAVIES (3,8 stars )

This premise of this story was a bit far fetch for multiple reasons but the ending was so cute! There was insta love, which I normally don’t like, but honestly I didn’t mind it that much in this. Also, I found the secondary characters really compelling, especially the family of the main character and that helped  to keep the story interesting.

259 MILLION MILES by KASS MORGAN (3,5 stars)

This had an interesting premise with the little scifi element but the ending was kind of sad even when I could tell it was trying to be hopeful. This story was the only one in this anthology that left me feeling disappointed and sad about the fact that the main characters met. Also, I think this story tried to cover too many topics that had emotional implications, but never got me to feel anything about any of them.

SOMETHING REAL by JULIE MURPHY (3,5 stars)

I didn’t enjoy this story that much, I think the plot didn’t work that well even if the concept had potential. But the characters were really good and helped to redeem this story a little. Also, the ending was adorable! Another f/f romance with really likeable main characters that get stuck in an uncomfortable situation.

SAY EVERYTHING by HUNTLEY FITZPATRICK (2,8 stars)

The characters in this story had cero chemestry and I didn’t like the plot, I felt like it was the kind of plot that was popular in YA contemporary novels a long time ago, this angsty star-cross lovers story that reminds me a little of late 2000’s books.  Also, it was a really forgattable story.

THE DEPARTMENT OF DEAD LOVE by NICOLA YOON  (4 stars)

This story is really good mainly becuase the concept is fascinating and there’s a lot of worldbuilding packed into a really short story. Also, I felt really sad about the break up portion of the story and I liked that this invoked an emotional response out of me, but the problem is that the new relationship that starts to develop fades to the background becuase the old relationship is such a big part of the story,  so I ended up not being as invested in the meet cute

Overall rating: 4 stars
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blog tour · giveway · Review

Blog Tour: Marriage of Inconvenience by Penny Reid (Review+Giveaway)

MOI BT  BANNER.jpg

I was highly anticipating this book, it is the end of a series that I really enjoyed, but also it revolves around a couple that has been teased for a while and which I had been intrigued by for a long time. So imagine my surpise and my absolute joy when I recieved an email saying that I was getting an arc of this book as part of the blog tour. I was so excited that I felt like I was gonna start crying at my desk while all my coworkers were around me.  I say this to establish that my expectation for this book were extremely high, I’m not sure it enterily met those expectations but I was not disappointed either.

marriage of inconvenience

Title: Marriage of Inconvenience

Author: Penny Reid

Publishing date:  March 6th 2018

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Pages: 510

There are three things you need to know about Kat Tanner (aka Kathleen Tyson. . . and yes, she is *that* Kathleen Tyson): 1) She’s determined to make good decisions, 2) She must get married ASAP, and 3) She knows how to knit. Being a billionaire heiress isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it sucks. Determined to live a quiet life, Kat Tanner changed her identity years ago and eschewed her family’s legacy. But now, Kat’s silver spoon past has finally caught up with her, and so have her youthful mistakes. To avoid imminent disaster, she must marry immediately; it is essential that the person she chooses have no romantic feelings for her whatsoever and be completely trustworthy.
Fortunately, she knows exactly who to ask. Dan O’Malley checks all the boxes: single, romantically indifferent to her, completely trustworthy. Sure, she might have a wee little crush on Dan the Security Man, but with clear rules, expectations, and a legally binding contract, Kat is certain she can make it through this debacle with her sanity—and heart—all in one piece. Except, what happens when Dan O’Malley isn’t as indifferent—or as trustworthy—as she thought?

Goodreads | Amazon 

My favorite thing about this book is the main characters, Dan and Kat, and the relationship between them. Dan and Kat are very engaging characters that made me want to keep reading their story. I think Kat is relatable character with her shyness, anxiety and all her little quirks, but also with her caring nature and her strenght. On the other hand, Dan is patient, respectful and caring but also mischivious and funny. They complemented each other quite well and had some really good scenes together.  It was fun to watch their relationship grow as they became closer and as their bond became stronger. Also, the whole marriage of convenience is a trope that I really enjoy.

My second favorite thing about this book is that we got to see the camaraderie and loyalty between the women of the knitting group and their support of Kat throughout this story. They were there to defend her (there’s a scene where the ladies and their boyfriends/husbands confront Kat’s cousin and it’s such a great scene!). Also, they were there to help Kat through a very sad situation that she has to deal with. I think that’s what makes this series so especial to me: it’s about this group of woman supporting, loving and respecting each other throught all the ups and downs of life.

One of my issue with this book was the fact that it had some similar plot elements to other books in the series and since I read those books not so long ago, it felt like it was more of the same and it was a bit repetitive. Don’t get me wrong, there were things I liked: the  pharmaceutical  industry storyline was interesting ( even if it was solved a little too easily) and I think Penny Reid always chooses really thought provoking background themes for her novels. Nonetheless, elements like the kidnapping felt unneccesary and repetitive since it happens in a lot of the books in the series. Other issue I had with this book is that the villain of the story was not that smart, was not that interesting  and was pretty much one-dimentional.

Overall, the characters and the relationship between them is what makes this series , but particulary this book, so magical. Thanks to that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, even if I did have some issues with the plot.  Before finishing this review, I just wanted to mention that I really, really, really want a longer version of the epilogue to be publish, please!!

Rating : 3,8 stars
If you want a signed set of the entire Knitting in the City Series by Penny Reid, you can participate in the giveaway here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Review

Book Review: Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

Let's talk about loveTitle: Let’s Talk About Love

Author: Claire Kann

Published by: Swoon Reads

Publishing date: January 23rd 2018

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Pages: 304

Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting–working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.

Goodreads | Amazon 

A while ago, I read the first chapter of a few books in an attempt to choose my next read, one of those books was Let’s Talk About Love. Within the first page, I knew I wanted to keep reading it because of the honest and captivating voice of Alice, the main character in this book, who is a biromantic asexual black woman.

From the very first chapter, this book addresses acephobia and confrots a lot of the misconceptions around asexuality. Then as the book progresses, the difference between arousal and attraction is discussed in a way that makes it easy to understand what asexuality means, especially if it’s something new to you. In that sense, this book also does a very good job of portraiting the asolation and loneliness that a lot of ace people go through; as well as the responsability that falls on ace people to educate others because asexuality is not really visible in media or anywhere really.

Other aspect that it’s important to point out, it’s that the representation in this book is #ownvoices in terms of race, the author is a black woman, and it shows in the way racial microaggressions are portraited and discussed in this book, mainly through Alice, but also a little bit through Takumi, the love interest in this book, who is Japanese.

Alice and  Takumi are so cute together and the way their relationship evolves feels so natural. I think this book is so valuable to ace readers, that not only get to see themselves represented, they also get to see an ace woman get a happy ending with a person that loves and respects her.

Also, something else I feel it’s so important about this book is that it puts therapy in a positive light. Lately, more and more books are normalizing therapy but it’s still amazing to see it in a book and I think it’s really valuable.

This book doesn’t have a strong plot, it’s the story of a girl that’s struggling with the opinions and perceptions that other people may have about parts of her identity, mainly her asexuality but also her race. It deals with themes of friendship, love and finding what you want to do in life and how you want to live. It’s told through an honest and captivating voice that will make readers want to invest in her story.

Rating : 4 stars
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Review

Book Review: Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

Illegal Contact

Title: Illegal Contact

Author: Santino Hassell

Published by: InterMix

Publishing date: August 15th 2017

Genre: Romance, M/M

Pages: 251

New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.

Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor. But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin’s timeout is over…

Goodreads | Amazon 

This book is full of banter and chemestry between the main characters, Gavin and Noah, which was my favorite part of the book. Their dynamic is entertaining to read about from the beginning. This is definitely a slow burn but there’s a instant attraction that’s very obvious even when the main character have a rocky start to their relationship. Once they’re together, they become so soft and precious and you can help but root for him.

Gavin is the type of character that doesn’t make a good first impression, he is hot tempered and can come off as rude, but you fall in love with him because of the loyalty he has to his friends and the passion he feels for the sport he has dedicated his life to. Also, the bisexual rep is fantastic and I love the fact that even when it was a secret Gavin was so unapologetic about it with the people that knew he was bisexual.

On the other hand, Noah is a good son, a good friend and he wants to help LGBT youth.  He’s nicer and polite, but my first impresion of him wasn’t the best either; he wasn’t taking his job seriously and I understand that sometimes doing your best in a job you don’t want is hard, but at the same time going to an interview unprepared,  being late to work and making excuses is unprofessional and I was a bit frustrated with him, but he gets over it quickly and starts to do a good job, so I got over it and at the end I really liked him as a character as well.

I think those are the most important things to know about this book: it has characters you’ll fall in love with and the banter and chemestry between them is incredible and makes their dynamic captivating. Other things that were really well  done: the discussion about homophobia in sports and the fact that the side characters are also compelling and their relationships with the protagonist are really interesting.

Rating : 4 stars
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Review

Mini Reviews: Poetry Collections

Mini Reviews

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

the sun and her flowers

From Rupi Kaur, the #1 New York Timesbestselling 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.

Goodreads | Amazon

The first few poems are about heartbreak and they were  beautiful and so infinetly sad, but so relatable as well. Having being through a break up recently, these poems made me cry my eyes out. I felt so incredibly heartbroken when I read them, but also I felt so relieved that someone else felt that way, that someone else understood. I also felt so very grateful that she shared those poems with the world.

There was a part of this book that was all about immigration and refugees, and it talked about those things in such a powerful, raw and heartbreaking ways. The poems where she talks about  immigration were intimetly woven with the story of her parents and that made it feel so much more authentic. Also, the poems she wrote specificly to her mother were beutiful, sad, heartwarming, devastating, everything at once.

There are in this collection a lot of  poems that are written in a style that’s not my favorite, these short poems that feel more like a sentence than like a poem. Also, the poems about love were my least favorite. I felt like in some of the poems, love became the thing that gave meaning to life and it’s strange because in so many of the other poems Rupi Kaur talks about life having meaning in itself, so it was like a step backwards when she talk about love in this all consuming and kind of dependant way. Maybe no one else felt this way, but it bother me.

Rating: 4 stars 

Separador 1

The Witch Doesn’t Burn in this One by Amanda Lovelace

the witch

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.

Goodreads | Amazon 

I definitely liked the first book in this series, The Princess Saves Herself in this One, more than this second installment. There are a few poems in this collection that I really liked, but most of them were  just ok for me.

I do think Amanda Lovelace writes about some important topics. I’m glad this type of poetry collection exists that deals with feminist issues, body positivity, sexual assault, self-love, etc. But I feel like the way these topics were explored in this collection became repetitive.  Also, the poems in this one didn’t evoke any emotion from me, which was weird because I feel like I usually relate to poetry that deals with these topics.

I feel like overall themes of the book, witches, witchcraft and witch hunts were interesting and they were present in all the poems. There was a lot of consistency in the collection, both in terms of the overall theme and the different topics it explored. But,  as I was saying before, my main problem with this book is that i didn’t feel touched or connected to a lot of the poems and most of them didn’t provoke any emotion in me.

Rating: 3 Stars
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