Review: Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré

Carré’s elegant short stories read like the gothic, family narratives of Flannery O’Connor or Carson McCullers, but told visually. Poetic rhythms — a coin flip, a circling ferris wheel — are punctuated by elements of melancholy fantasy pushed forward by character-driven, naturalistic dialogue.

I’ve been eyeing this illustrated collection full of short stories ever since I read a similar book titled: How To Be Happy by Eleanor Davis. But unlike the aforementioned, Carré’s visually stunning art never falters. The color pallets in particular stand out the most here when you turn from page to page. The sole act of flipping through this was a joy to experience.

Heads or Tails tells of strange tales and ideas about the world and humans. From a competition judge that is involved in a car accident and loses his taste for opinionated pieces to a woman encountering versions of herself through her routine-like day. “The lifestyle of shadowing herself was exhausting.” To a short story of rain dropping from the ceiling and flooding the apartment.

These nuanced and melancholy pieces are guaranteed to leave you thinking on life and all its aspects while leaving no emotion unexpressed.

Here are some of my favorite illustrations:

Heads or Tails 1-- bookspoils


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Heads or Tails 6-- bookspoilsHeads or Tails 7-- bookspoils

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Heads or Tails 16-- bookspoils

Ultimately, Heads or Tails is a beautifully written, heartfelt, and deeply illuminating collection.

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Heads or Tails, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Telgemeier’s books just keep getting better and better in my eyes. My third read, Sisters, in particular resonated with me because of the main notion of sisterhood and its complications/ joys. Also, shoutout to my local library for holding a copy of this graphic novel. I initially picked it up for my little sister, but ended up enjoying it myself in one sitting just before she came home from school.

Raina uses her signature humor and charm in both present-day narrative and perfectly placed flashbacks to tell the story of her relationship with her sister, which unfolds during the course of a road trip from their home in San Francisco to a family reunion in Colorado.

I was incredibly pumped to see what my little sister would think about this read, since it’s the perfect visual example of what I felt like during those years before her birth. The whole notion of nagging and begging your mom for a little sister really resonated with me. And then, funnily enough, when the baby finally (and thankfully) arrives, you’re hit with the realization that newborns can’t play with you just yet.

Another note I loved was the combination of road trips with family and summer vibes thrown in here. Oh, and the art!! We have tons of stunning visuals on a wide range of colors. And I still don’t have the vocabulary to explain how great it is, so here are some examples:

Sisters 1-- bookspoils

Sisters 2-- bookspoils

Sisters 3-- bookspoils

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Sisters 9-- bookspoilsUpdate: My sister ended up reading Sisters twice back-to-back because of how enjoyable it was.

All in all, I’m so glad that I got to share this book with the two most important people in my life. I definitely recommend this as a compelling, joyful, and quick summer read. I want more like it in my company.

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Sisters, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: The Power of Vulnerability by Brené Brown

I decided to give this audiobook – narrated by the author – a chance right after having watched Alain de Botton’s talk, Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person. I don’t really recall how my mind then led me to associate the aforementioned with Brené Brown’s work, but here we are…

On The Power of Vulnerability, Dr. Brown offers an invitation and a promise – that when we dare to drop the armor that protects us from feeling vulnerable, we open ourselves to the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives. Here she dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and reveals that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage.

I still remember the first time I listened to the author’s Ted talk (back in 2014) on the subject of vulnerability because it changed and transformed a lot in me. Brown’s use of humor and wit to educate the listener delivered everything I wanted. And I was ecstatic to then start the audiobook (albeit, three years later) and discover that her comical anecdotes were still on point with plenty of wit and snark to spare. I laughed heartily and merrily throughout the six sessions, which was so wonderful and centering to experience. Pure comedic gems that lead to fascinating discoveries concerning our lives. I went through a roller coaster of emotions that force me to reexamine myself.

So I thought I’d share next a few points from the audiobook that really resonated with me:

  • Self-acceptance and self-love: “We can only love others as much as we love ourselves.”
  • The difference between shame and guilt: the former being a focus on self (I am bad) while the later is focused on behaviour (I did bad). And how crucial it is to pay attention to their differences.
  • Shame resilience and moving through it. Owning your story.
  • The difference between empathy (being the antidote to shame) and sympathy:“Empathy is feeling with, sympathy is feeling for.”
  • Debunking the myths about vulnerability.
  •  Practicing gratitude in the midsts of foreboding joy.
  •  Setting boundaries and learning to say no: “Choose discomfort over resentment.”
  •  Overfunctioning & underfunctioning anxiety.
  • To be vulnerable and let ourselves be seen: “No one reaches out to you for compassion or empathy so you can teach them how to behave better. They reach out to us because they believe in our capacity to know our darkness well enough to sit in the dark with them.”

To put it simply, The Power of Vulnerability is all about becoming aware of your emotions and “bring to light processes people aren’t even aware they’re engaged in.” I wish I could make everyone in my close proximity listen to this audiobook as soon as possible. Already I’ve had so many discussions over the past few days about certain notions shared by Dr. Brown that are well worth the spotlight.

And not only did she make this reading experience feel fun and interactive while following her mindfulness, the personal anecdotes about her husband, kids, and friends made me laugh out loud without fail. That’s just a guaranteed way to make me remember a crucial point a long way down the road. Plus, the book never suffered from giving off vague advice, thanks to Brown having the experiences of those she researched and of her own to back-up the statements.

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying The Power of Vulnerability, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!