Review: Beaches by Gray Malin

My love for everything and anything concerning summertime – the beaches, the weather, the freedom – is unlike anything other. I’ve had it instilled in me since childhood and it’s not going away anytime soon.BEACHES 8-- bookspoilsBut since I began browsing through this gorgeous book at the end of January, aka the coldest month where I live, it made me ache so dearly for all the aforementioned. In particular, that irreplaceable sensation of swimming in the ocean, even if I still make sure to walk down to the beach and breathe in that unique hit of saltwater every day. Beaches will make you reminisce about the summers filled with nostalgia, bliss, and laughter.

So I made sure to savor the collection until the weather would warm up, and lo and behold, flipping through this ethereal photography collection must’ve brought some good luck into my life because the weather is sure warming up a lot this week! We’re so close to summer where I live, and I’m bursting with anticipation.BEACHES 9-- bookspoilsI think it goes without saying that a book dedicated to capturing different beaches around the world was a shining, bright star for me. Gray Malin’s Beaches offers an extremely rare and unique experience by including aerial photographs of beaches around the world that are shot from doorless helicopters.

I also adored the fact that if you get the digital version of the book, you can zoom in on the picture and spot people looking up at you. It’s like the summer version of Where’s Waldo?.

Without further ado, here are some of my personal favorites shots taken from Beaches:BEACHES 1-- bookspoilsBEACHES 2-- bookspoilsBEACHES 3-- bookspoilsBEACHES 4-- bookspoilsSECRET BEACH
Saint-Tropez, France

BEACHES 5-- bookspoilsDUBAI BEACH UMBRELLAS
Dubai, UAEBEACHES 6-- bookspoilsBEACH WITH GRASS
Kaua’i, USA

BEACHES 7-- bookspoils

I will be sure to revisit this work of art many times in the future, especially come summertime!

ARC kindly provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Publication Date: May 10th 2016

4/5 stars

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

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Review: Rookie on​ Love by Tavi Gevinson

“My memory of men is never lit up and illuminated like my memory of women.”Marguerite Duras

A single-subject anthology about the heart’s most powerful emotion, edited by Tavi Gevinson. Touching upon love in all its different variations, from “a devotional to dogs” (Durga Chew-Bose) to unrequited love to accepting your self-worth to experiencing intimate friendships with women.

“Love is all around, but its holding place is not always another person. Sometimes you find the best companion in yourself, or the fun of worshipping a teen idol, or the challenge of trying to understand love in its various forms. ”

Before starting, I casually browsed through the table of contents and saw a stellar piece titled “Do Sisters Actually Love Each Other?” by Jazmine Hughes, which I hurried on to read because it was something I really needed. And it was just as spectacular as the title conveys, featuring a group text between a bunch of sisters.

JAVONNE I came back to, like, eighty messages to read and I will not.
Someone fill me in if you want an answer from me.”

When I then saw that Tavi Gevinson had shared a live reading of this hilarious and touching piece, I was over-the-moon:

All I need now is the return of the Rookie podcast, which I raved about back in April of 2017.

Rookie on Love, however, didn’t quite embody the expectations I had in mind before starting. More than once I experienced the feeling of really enjoying how a story builds up but then, almost without fail, it would veer off downhill, destroying what it had created in its small space, and end on a completely unsatisfying note. And because of the short length, there wasn’t even a redeeming moment that could’ve saved the narrative.

It also didn’t help the collection of hitting a rough patch in the middle, where none of the essays held my attention and consequently failed to raise any emotion out of me (I mean, other than bitter rage at a certain line in Collier Meyerson’s piece I landed upon while randomly flipping through the collection)… Thankfully though, when I finally reached Victoria Chiu’s written piece, which came in to save the day, as she touches upon her choice to abstain from “(penetrative) sex.” As well as other standout pieces in here that I’d like to feature, such as:

  • Fwd: Letter to Leyb by Tova Benjamin, talking about relationships in the digital age:

“Sometimes I think, I will never forget that I felt this way. And then I do. It seems horribly scary to invest so much time and energy and emotion into something that will eventually wind down to the end of its life, be it 44 days or two years and nine months. And then what?”

  • The Most Exciting Moment of Alma’s Life by Etgar Keret. A quick story on life after experiencing your highest high.

Though for Alma, it’s not really just a question. Sometimes she actually dreams about what happened at the Biblical Zoo. She with her braids and the lion standing so close to her that she could feel his warm breath on her face. In some of the dreams, the lion rubs up against her in a friendly way, in others, he opens his mouth and roars, and then she usually wakes up terrified. So one can say that as long as she keeps dreaming, that moment hasn’t completely passed. But dreaming, with all due respect, is not exactly living.”Rookie on Love 1-- bookspoils

  • Beyond Self-Respect by Jenny Zhang. One of the most important pieces, talking about how love and respect need to go hand in hand, which I also heard a lecture on a few months back and it completely changed my viewpoint.

“The way we talk about respect and teenage girls needs to change. I want girls to learn how to disrespect the men in their lives who cause them harm and violence, I want them to learn how to disrespect patriarchal values that bind and demean. Looking back on my past relationships, I can pinpoint the very moment when I lost respect for the person I was dating. Often, it happened early on—a casually offensive remark that betrayed deeper levels of racism, an unfunny joke that revealed how much he feared and hated women, or even just a delusional comment that showed zero self-awareness—but always, when I was younger, I would continue to date that person, doubling down on my commitment, all the while losing respect for him. That’s the most disturbing part, that I thought I could love someone I didn’t even respect.”

  • Super Into a Person’s Person-ness a conversation between Rainbow Rowell and John Green, “YA powerhouses on writing epic—yet real—teen love.” I can listen to Rainbow Rowell for eternity, as you can tell by my extensive review of my all-time favorite book of hers, Fangirl.

RAINBOW When I’m writing love stories (which I can’t help but do, it’s always a love story for me), I really don’t want to be writing a story that makes it worse for the people reading it. That perpetuates all the lies about love and attraction.
JOHN Right.
RAINBOW But also, if I’m writing about teenagers, I don’t want them to be somehow magically above this bullshit. They can’t be wizened 40-year-olds who know from experience that it’s garbage.
JOHN Well, but also, I don’t think you ever get magically above this bullshit. We’re talking like this is all in our past, but of course inherited ideas about beauty and attractiveness affect adult life, too.
RAINBOW Yes.
JOHN Hopefully over time you develop an awareness that, e.g., your obsession with the perfect nose is completely ludicrous, but it’s not like it all goes away.
RAINBOW You’re still a nose man?
JOHN God, no. I am a PERSON MAN. I am super into a person’s person-ness.”

  • Before I Started Writing These Things Directly to You by Tavi Gevinson, on trying to capture the feelings as they occur.

“I just don’t trust words a whole lot, and wonder if writing this, too, takes the air out of the whole thing, like in the Chekhov story “The Kiss,” where the sad loner shares the story of an improbable romantic encounter with his male colleagues and, upon hearing it out loud, experiences the whole thing as woefully insignificant.”

I wholeheartedly enjoyed this piece by Tavi, wherein she managed to create a solid grip on her relationship with this goofy grinning guy in just one page.Rookie on Love 2-- bookspoils


Overall, I’d say I came to appreciate most of all the pieces that exposed my innermost feelings so successfully that it made me reflect a lot. So even though the collection as a whole was mainly a hit or miss with its forty-something stories, I still came to cherish a handful of pieces.

3/5 stars

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

Review: The Secret Loves of Geeks by Hope Nicholson

Starting out the last month of the year on the right foot with this follow-up to 2016 best-seller The Secret Loves of Geek Girls. It’s no secret by now that I absolutely adored said anthology when I picked it up last year. I even went back to reread my review recently and got to experience all those feelings of fun rush back in, like when I had first read them.

So I was more than ready to dive into this new world, where cartoonists and professional geeks tell their intimate, heartbreaking, and inspiring stories about love, sex and, dating in this comics and prose anthology.

But the one thing I came to notice were how few illustrated stories there were compared to The Secret Loves of Geek Girls. This follow-up paves the way for more essays and short stories to be included. That’s not to say that I enjoyed the written tales less, as my favorites below will testify. Still, I wish we would’ve gotten a couple more comics thrown in the mix.

On a brighter note, The Secret Loves of Geeks had me wrapped in the storyline from page one. Starting with Cecil Castellucci’s piece about finding love while camped out for six weeks (!) in line for The Phantom Menace, reminiscent of Rainbow Rowell’s Kindred Spirits.

“We were creating our own microsociety and it was all centered around this thing that we loved.”The Secret Loves of Geeks 1-- bookspoilsAnd then moving on to the next story by Saadia Muzaffar on online (Tinder) dating and doing things different this time. It had me enthralled from start to finish. I was entirely invested to see if the whole “get to know me in a way only I knew me,” without disclosing any Google-identifiable details, would work.The Secret Loves of Geeks 3-- bookspoils

I also came to notice how “The [isolating] feeling of otherness… of never quite fitting in, and of not knowing how to act, or how to be interacted with…” was ever present in this anthology, and I felt the core of it.

The last written piece I want to highlight was Hope Larson’s story: “I wanted to be seen, and yet remain unknown.” She had me eating out of the palm of her hand while recalling her meeting someone “who lights up the night and slows down time.”

Finally, I’d like to highlight some of my favorite illustrated pieces:

The Secret Loves of Geeks 6-- bookspoilsThe art style and colors are dreamy in the above.

Also, this panel from Bear With by Terry Blas:The Secret Loves of Geeks 4-- bookspoilsI wasn’t expecting to find a piece bringing me back to my days of loving Miranda, but I’m so here for this. Also, I cherish the tiny detailed shout-out to the iconic “What have you done today to make you feel proud.”

And last but not least, to quote from the introduction, Cara Ellison and Maddie Chaffer rage against the hypocrisy of controlling women’s sexual fantasies in “Women Love Jerks.”

The Secret Loves of Geeks 5-- bookspoils


Overall, it was validating and so incredibly affirming to read through all the different stories presented in The Secret Loves of Geeks. I’m rooting for more anthologies like this to come out in the near future.

ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Publication Date: February 13th 2018

4/5 stars

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