Review: Worlds from the Word’s End by Joanna Walsh

“You will agree: had you always the right book to hand, oh what reading you would have done!”

It’s only fitting that right after I post my take on The Beautiful Book Covers Tag, I stumble across the striking cover for Worlds from the Word’s End, designed and illustrated by Roman Muradov:Worlds from the Word's End-- bookspoilsThe detailed art structure sets the tone for what to expect in Worlds from the Word’s End. A swift collection of short stories that (for the most) get straight to the point was exactly the kind of read I was seeking.

From a freewheeling story on cycling (and Freud), to a country in which words themselves fall out of fashion, to a bookshelf (‘Bookselves’) full of unread books coming to life to judge you.

“Something you never thought might happen: after a certain number of years the being who has read all these neglected books will step from your bookshelves, will sit down at your table (conveniently adjacent), will make a cup of coffee at the machine, having seen you use it so many times, especially when about to tackle a book, and will light a cigarette, insubstantial as steam, the odour of which will affect neither your carpets nor curtains. It will be the opposite of you, your inverse.”

Love of books is quietly present throughout the collection.

Another noteworthy story takes on the saying “Actions speak louder than words,” as language crumbles around them.

“You like women who are quiet? In the end it was not so difficult to let you go: you were only interested in the sound of your own voice. ”

The most memorable piece for me.

Also, this:

“I prefer Departures to Arrivals, by which time everything has already happened. Even as dawn approaches in long lozenges of broken light, Arrivals do not notice the beautiful station. They look down, headed for something known, for home, for bed. Of course some are met, but fewer than you would think, and they don’t stick around. Heroics are reserved for Departures: brave looks, last embraces, minutes slowed by kisses.”

But save for the two stories above that I enjoyed most, the nineteen tales in here are all over the place. The incoherent narrative (or lack thereof) became bothersome overtime, especially for the shorter pieces. They didn’t pack a punch and were remarkably mediocre, so much so that you’d forget what it was about the minute you moved on to the next piece.

Though I was looking for short stories that were quick and precise, Worlds from the Word’s End seemed to only deliver on the quick part.

Bottom line: I was drawn to the cover and that’s the best to have come out of this collection for me.

2.5/5 stars

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

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Review: Skim by Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki

When I started down the wonderful path that is reading graphic novels last year, This One Summer by Mariko & Jillian Tamaki was one of the first works I checked out. So to have now finally read through Skim from cover to cover is beyond gratifying for me.

“Skim” is Kimberly Keiko Cameron, a not-slim, would-be Wiccan goth who goes to a private girls’ school. When Skim’s classmate Katie Matthews is dumped by her boyfriend, who then kills himself, the entire school goes into mourning overdrive. As concerned guidance counselors provide lectures on the “cycle of grief,” and the popular clique starts a new club (Girls Celebrate Life!) to bolster school spirit, Skim sinks into an ever-deepening depression.

And falling in love only makes things worse…

Suicide, depression, love, being gay or not, crushes, cliques, and finding a way to be your own fully human self–are all explored in this brilliant collaboration by cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. An edgy, keenly observed and poignant glimpse into the heartache of being young.Skim 1-- bookspoilsSide note: I love it when the blurb really gets the core of the book right.

Skim‘s quick glimpse into an angst-ridden, strong-willed and intense young adult made me reminisce and feel grateful for making it through those years unscathed. But I also feel like the main themes that are prevalent in Skim, like the ever-present arc of mortality that’s circling the girls at school, were (somewhat fittingly) skimmed over. I didn’t feel like I had a solid grip on what the creators were trying to convey.

So I was disappointed that this graphic novel didn’t manage to leave a lasting impression, or hit any particular right notes for me, save for a page here and there. I didn’t feel invested because, as I mentioned, the topics that intrigued me the most, such as girlhood, coming-of-age, and depression weren’t explored to the fullest; we remained on the surface of things without budging.

Though I was left me unmoved for the most, I’ll end my review on a brighter note by sharing some of the pages that managed to spark something inside me:
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3/5 stars

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

Review: Making It Complicated by Clarisse David

I’ve been patiently biding my time for this companion to Keeping the Distance to release out into the world ever since I finished the first book that fateful night in February. After nine faithful months, it finally came to my notice today that the sequel was already out, so I hurried on to catch up with these beloved characters.

Nineteen-year-old Cam has a metric ton of emotional baggage and is in no mood to unload them on anyone. After her parents’ marriage imploded, stress-free is the only way she wants her life to be. And what could be more freeing than spending the summer on Boracay? Absolutely nothing…until she bumps heads with Hunter, the hot drummer who screams incoming heartbreak from a mile away.

Though I’m a bit mad at myself for reading this book a whole month after its publication, Making It Complicated still presented itself at exactly the right time in my life. It’s interesting how just the day before I’d been in the mood for a quick and fun-filled romance to sweep me off my feet, and the universe delivered just right with this book.

The events of this book are set a year after Keeping the Distance: Camille Velasco, Melissa Ortiz’s best friend, is set for her summer before college, full of bright and hopeful opportunities.

“It was a great night to be nineteen.”

Side note: I’m thankful I got my wish fulfilled of having Cam as the main in the sequel, as I mentioned in my review for #1. Her carefree youth encompassed me at the start of the book. Speaking of which, here are some of the main points from the book I’d like to highlight (mild spoilers ahead):

  • The main issue occurring between Cam and Mel, “the best friend I didn’t quite know how to deal with anymore,” of how they’d outgrown each other.

“I wanted to be happy for her.
Truly, I did.
But a huge part of me didn’t believe in the same things she did anymore, in finding such utter bliss with another person and trusting they weren’t going to rip you apart. I didn’t have the energy for that.”

We follow Cam’s journey of going out into the world on her own to try to find who she is a person, especially after the whole ordeal that happened in her family. I’m a sucker for a classic coming-of-age tale.

  • There’s a lot more angst and resentment than I anticipated going into this, but nonetheless grew to appreciate as an important trait of Cam’s strong-willed character growth.

“I was broken, and I had to stop hoping other people would fix things. Not Mel. Not Hunter. I had to put the pieces back together myself.”

Her anger was palpable, understandable, and not just swept away over the course of the book, which I appreciated a tenfold.

  • But circling back to Mel and Cam, the continuous miscommunication happening between them brought to mind my favorite quote from my favorite duo in Broad City:tumblr_o3g7ywkmoy1qiaxzfo2_250
  • I was relieved to see less of her best friend because truth to be told, Mel and Lance were so uncomfortable to watch from an outsider’s perspective. In their POV in Keeping the Distance, I could put aside my discomfort and chalk it up to nothing serious… But seeing them acting all lovey-dovey in front of Cam, I couldn’t help but think of this eerily fitting vine:

So I was low-key relieved to see less and less of them over the span of the book.

  • Instead, I welcomed the new group dynamics with Hunter Alvarez and his bandmates Cal, Eddie, and Keith. The teasing was merciless. And the laughs endless.
  • Plus, I have to pay attention to a tiny detail from one of the members that had me enraptured for the rest of the book:

“Do you want to listen to this podcast with me?” Keith offered one of his earphones to me.”

This offer is the one true key to my heart.

  • But out of all the members, I’d love to know more about my silent mystery man, Cal. “It was obvious Hunter made most of the major decisions, but Cal could control the rest of them with a single sentence. All that quiet power was amazing to watch in action.”
  • Finally, moving on to the main couple of the book… The rising sexual tension between Cam and Hunter was deliciously satisfying.

“Did I dare step inside his house when I knew very well we were going to be alone? A thousand thoughts—about the feel of his lips on mine, how hard his abs were underneath my fingertips—demanded entry into my brain. I refused to let them in.
“Is there anyone else inside?” I trusted Hunter, just not my hormones.
I watched as a light bulb seemed to go off in his head. His eyes moved from my black camisole down to my distressed denim shorts. The look he gave me made me want to pull my shirt collar away from my neck and fan myself with one hand. Voice low, he said, “No, it’s just us.”

This infinitely patient boy had me sitting at the edge of my seat with the drop of his voice.

And one more for the road:

“Every inch of my side connected with his, our shoulders and knees sliding against each other every time the jeepney stopped. When the wind burst inside and whipped my hair around my shoulders, Hunter reached out and gathered the strands in his fist, pulling them over my shoulder for me.
When his fingers brushed against my neck, I forgot how to breathe.
“You look a little…weird,” Hunter sounded a little too happy. He knew very well what he was doing to me. The bastard.”tumblr_osw20dinl11td9fl4o7_r1_400

Overall, this sequel full of antics from youthful summers exceeded all my expectations. I’m giddy for what’s next in store.

4/5 stars

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