Book Review: We Were Young by Fortesa Latifi

26866079Title: We Were Young

Author: Fortesa Latifi

Genre: Poetry, Nonfiction

Date Published: September of 2015

Publisher: Where Are You Press

Synopsis (through Goodreads):

This is the second book by Fortesa Latifi.

In her sophomore collection of poetry, Fortesa revisits themes from past writings with a new maturity. We Were Young explores the heartbreaks, hangovers, and hang ups associated with growing up.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2 of 5)

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I enjoy poetry books in most cases. I love the rawness, the simplicity of how a writer can just pour out his/her heart out on it. It seems like a simple channel of creativity but at the same time a complex one, as well. I feel like poems is such a very close thing to the heart. That’s why I felt a little down upon reading We Were Young. I wanted to like it but half the time I was just reading it–not feeling the words. I couldn’t find any connection with what is in the written word…and I felt like I was doing something wrong or perhaps I might have been distracted? I don’t understand how half the time I was just there, not really understanding what’s happening. I’m not sure if this was a fault of mine upon reading, I mean, I might not have been the general demographic that this work has been going for?

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I Feel Bad: All Day. Every Day. About Everything. by Orli Auslander

31247646Title: I Feel Bad: All Day. Every Day. About Everything.

Author: Orli Auslander

Series: None

Genre: Humor, Nonfiction

Number of Pages (Hardcover): 160

(Expected) Date of Publishing: April 4th of 2017

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Roz Chast meets Allie Brosh in this hilarious, unfiltered, and beautifully illustrated look at the infinite number of reasons the author experiences guilt, shame, regret and self-reproach in her daily life, and that maybe—just maybe—some of us can relate to as well.

In a series of 100 illustrations with accompanying text, Orli Auslander has captured a mood and emotional ambivalence that will be all too familiar for readers: trying to be the best wife, mother, and friend she can be, while simultaneously feeling shitty about virtually everything she does. Confronting her daily experience with dark humor and brilliant and brutal honesty, she shows us how being an overindulgent mother makes her feel as terrible as the times when she can’t stand the sight of her kids; how saying yes to the wrong experiences and no to the right requests is equally bad; how her Jewish heritage complicates her relationships with her overly religious family and irreligious children; and how having a vagina is the ultimate inescapable struggle. With a distinctive, textured ink drawing style which brings to mind a female Robert Crumb and a neurotic Edward Gorey, I Feel Bad is a book that readers will buy for themselves and for a best friend, and where every reader will find the precise moment that Auslander voiced their own deepest anxiety in her poignant and hilarious illustrations.

Rate: 2 of 5

I want to say thank you to the publisher, Blue Rider Press, for giving me the chance to read an advanced reader copy through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I Feel Bad: All Day. Every Day. About Everything. has a brilliant premise. It’s some part book and some part journal. Well, I suppose it was a journal before since the author takes all the ideas for this book from all the things that make her feel bad. We all have things that make us feel bad and the idea of this book is really interesting with it housing things that most people feel, or in other words, something that is relatable. 

This book caught my attention, undeniably, because of the cover. The cover sparked my interest in it because a.) it’s titled I Feel Bad, b.) a woman standing in front of a mirror, c.) in her underwear, d.) with frizzy hair and e.) there’s a weighing scale somewhere in there. Oh oh! PLUS, it’s illustrated. So, I thought this was a body image type of book but when I read the synopsis online, it made me feel more excited about it because knowing the things that make people feel secretly bad is something I imagine I would enjoy. It’s sorta like Deep Dark Fears (and really I just love that webcomics). Imagine my glee when I got approved for my request of the book. But alas, my joy is short-lived.

I think the title of the book aptly summarizes my thoughts on it. I wanted to like it. It’s a confession-type of thing. It’s an illustrated one. I love those kinds of things. But after reading this, I just can’t shake the feeling that this is too pessimistic for my taste. I don’t mind a dose of reality and rawness in a book, and, yes, I know this is nonfiction and, sure, this might actually be something of a personal preference of the author since this is her personal accounts of events that make her feel bad, but I just can’t let go of the impression that this was just a little all too bleak. That’s really the reason why I gave this a 2-star rating.

Now, I do acknowledge the fact that this is not a bad book, per se. I mean, in the general sense of books, this is not that bad. But, personally, the ring of the entries in the book just made me feel a little uncomfortable that when I reached the first half I felt like it was already dragging–as if there isn’t a gleam of gratefulness in the tone of writing. And I don’t know how to feel about that since I don’t really want to judge a person’s outlook in life since we all have our situations, etc. I reiterate that this book is a series of things that make the author feel bad. And seriously, who am I to say that LOL that shouldn’t make you feel bad! or Seriously, you think of these things?!. Nope, I don’t think I’ll do that anytime soon.

While the theory of this book was something that I would’ve enjoyed if it was attacked through something that I would call a much milder form. I liked the illustrations and the sense of personal sharing that the air of this book has but I guess, again, it just was too pessimistic for my taste.

Do I recommend it? To people who likes a dose of raw sentiments of life (and also cute illustrations!), yes. But for people whose cup of tea is not really that sort, well yeah, no
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*Cover image and Synopsis via Goodreads

And I Darken (The Conqueror’s Saga #1) by Kiersten White

General Info

27190613Title: And I Darken

Author: Kiersten White

Series: The Conqueror’s Saga, #1

Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult

Number of Pages (Hardcover): 475

Date Published: June 28th of 2016

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Synopsis (via Goodreads):

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

Rate: 2 of 5

Before I start talking–er, writing?–I just want to let you know that I wanted to love this book. It has been one of those books in my Goodreads TBR that I keep eyeing for so long. It has all the elements that characterize the books I love reading. So, it has been quite a blow to me that I didn’t like this book. I mean, so many people loved it and honestly, I might have set the bar too high since almost all of my friends on Goodreads said that it is very good, there might have been a sprinkling of bad reviews but overall it promised me a nice time reading. And so, I dived into the book with very high hopes.

I had been quite disappointed (as can be reflected with my rating) which is really sad since I was so prepared to get into a new series. Right off the bat, the writing is gorgeous. It is fairly obvious that White is a talented writer however, the story didn’t engage me so much that after reading quite a third of the book, I just knew this reading experience will not go well. Now, you are perhaps wondering why I’m whining about this and just didn’t put the book down if I thought it was particularly bad. And my answer would be this: I don’t give up on books. Give me a particularly bad book and I will give it a shot until the very end. I’ve had multiple books that I was prepared to not finish but sticking to them to the end had been their redeeming mercy, e.g. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. As for this book, the story itself felt lulling. I had difficulty immersing myself within the confinements of And I Darken. The reading of the latter half of the book just made me want it to be over so I can move on to my next read. I so desperately wanted to make it work–but to no avail. There were some instances wherein I was picking up situations that excited me but then it would trail off to another direction all to be forgotten for yet another circumstance. There were so many loose ends–for lack of a better term–flying around that I felt if the author picked a couple of ideas in could have spun into another direction. There were so many things to tackle in the story, all of which are quite intriguing, i.e. sexism, religion, etc. It doesn’t really help that I thought this was totally another genre. I thought it is fantasy. Well, truth be told, it is fantasy since apparently alternative history can be flagged down as fantasy (I’m sorry, I didn’t know!) but I guess you understand the point I’m trying to make. I thought it is fantasy fantasy, as in high fantasy. Apparently not and boy did that give me a kick in the ass. Halfway through reading this, I had A Game of Thrones kinda vibes. Apparently, I was correct since I was informed that this has been marketed as a teen GoT type of thing. I see it, I just don’t like it. 


Also, I didn’t feel enamored with the characters, truth be told. They seem to be a walking mass of their weaknesses. They are characterized by what they are lacking and what their fears are. I did appreciate, however, a kick-ass female lead–Lada. But, even she had been particularly irritating for me.

The writing talent is excellent but that hadn’t been enough to get me to love this book. And I see it, I see the glimpses of what could’ve been an excellent read for me but there’s just this something missing. Perhaps the characters or the storyflow irritated me the most but there’s just this certain kind of engagement in the book that failed to beguile. Now, I understand that this book can prove to be a very nice read for other people. But this just wasn’t for me, I’m sorry. I wanted to love it but I guess that’s not happening anytime soon.


Do I recommend it? No.
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*Cover image and Synopsis via Goodreads; Gifs via Giphy

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

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Title:  Sweetbitter

Author: Stephanie Danler

Date Published:  May 24th, 2016

Publisher: Knopf

About: The tale of a young woman from a small town transitioning to the appeal of the big city that is New York. She finds herself landing a job in one of the exclusive restaurants in the posh Manhattan. What follows is the year in her life in the restaurant scene.

Rate: 2 of 5

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I’m not one to be in the look-out for popular and new books, especially those that are “hyped-up” because I read all kinds of books—from old books to new books to children’s book, etc. So, I fairly read everything. (I don’t know if that is counted as a well-rounded reader, but oh well.) My only waterloo is the genre non-fiction especially biography-type books. I rarely find books, let alone pick one up, of the said genre that I like.

So, reflecting first on the cover—a broken glass of wine. I must admit that the cover is gorgeous. Simple, but gorgeous.

This book takes a small peek, a year, in the life of a young woman. I don’t know much about New York City but what I do know is that the career-ladder in NYC is a very cutthroat industry to be and to compete. The first time I read the book I wasn’t exactly thrilled. The first two or three chapters were just lulling for me, it lacked the catch that I was waiting for in the story. Because of this, my motivation to read it further was kind of lowered. I even contemplated on just putting it down and not finishing it. But then what stopped me was the very good reviews that I read in GoodReads. It is really hyped up over there so I thought, Eh, what’s the harm? I got a copy might as well read it. Maybe further along the line I’d find something to interest me and catch my attention. And admittedly, the story became better at the middle of the book. I was glad I didn’t put it down. But it wasn’t enough to get me hooked up on it…

I read the bio of the book (an act I’m trying to discipline myself on doing these days because I often just pick up a book randomly) and of course it told of the tale of a young woman going to NYC to find herself in the big city. Incidentally she got a job in the restaurant scene. Although I found, much to my disappointment, the restaurant scene just a backdrop. A tale supposedly about a year in the life of a restaurant employee. I lost the sense that it was about the restaurant scene because it didn’t really touch the culinary scene. I do get that the book is not about the culinary thing or cooking, but still I anticipated it nonetheless. What was focused on was the wine. The restaurant bit just became a vague outline and an environment in which the main character walked around within a year. It just became a channel of the story not delving into the technicality of the world within. Which was what I was really waiting for. The sheer lack of backstory and details on the characters are also disturbing.

I wasn’t particularly thrilled. The story was focused more to Tess’ (the main character of the book) life AROUND and not WITHIN the restaurant scene.

There’s this particular qualm in me that says, Should I like it? Many people liked the book and the story. Personally, I think it was just all over the place. (I’m sorry for sounding very harsh, I’m aware that I’m never the writer but then again I am a reader.) I don’t get why some people would say that this is their favorite book of the year. I don’t get how this became the literary darling this year….I guess it all still comes down to reading tastes. One reader indeed is different from the other.

I didn’t quite grasp what the story was about. Was it about her life? Her story of growing in the city? Her going away and finding herself? Finding love? Heartbreak? Of being forced to grow up alone? The reality of life? It just seemed like a little of everything. It was just the victim of poor cohesiveness. I didn’t know up until the end what the story was building into. I didn’t know the central goal or the central point which it was aiming for.

And all of these factors just poured one on top of another that the story failed to beguile me and to just lose myself within it. It failed to catch me by the neck and say Please read it, read it, you have to know what happens in the end.  I’m kind of sad that I read it half-heartedly. Instead, I just read it “just to know what the hype about this thing is.” But apparently, I still don’t understand all the rave about it still.

But this is what I have observed all throughout the book, it dropped truth-bombs everywhere. Like bam there’s a truth of life right there. And bam okay here’s another one. And in that sense, it was quite good. I’ll say it again: this book is a gold mine of good thoughts that applies to you (more or less, haha).

So, yeah. Mixed feelings, I guess. With all my heart, I wanted to like this book. But I just really cannot. Everything just converges to me just not liking it.

P.S. I didn’t mean to be harsh. I just wanted to voice out what I thought of the book. And frankly, I don’t see the sense of me trying to say something when I’m thinking of another. Faking my thoughts on it won’t do this little space of mine any good. I hope I didn’t sound so harsh and mean. I was just trying to tell my opinions on it and my take on the book. Here’s to reality.

Do I recommend it? No. Sorry.


Gif via Giphy