Review: Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo

I recently read Bad Girls Throughout History by Ann Shen and was naturally craving for more when I came across this equally fantastic collection of extraordinary women.

Illustrated by sixty female artists from every corner of the globe, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls introduces us to one hundred remarkable women and their extraordinary lives, from Ada Lovelace to Malala, Elizabeth I to Serena Williams. Empowering, moving and inspirational, these are true fairy tales for heroines who definitely don’t need rescuing.

Initially I went in a bit worried that this would have the same set of women as in the aforementioned collection, but I needn’t have worried because Good Night Stories features a brand new exciting and enlightening group of women to the table (save for a few classics, of course).

And I just have to say that my heart soars every time I learn of books similar to this one that shine light on groups of courageous and inventive women. Plus, the illustrations are hypnotic and ethereal. Speaking of which, here are some of my favorite ladies I loved to learn about:

Ameenah Gurib-Fakim (1959–): President and Scientist.Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 1-- bookspoilsAmna Al Haddad (1989–): Weightlifter.Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2-- bookspoilsAnn Makosinski (1997–): Inventor.Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 3-- bookspoilsAstrid Lindgren (1907–2002): Writer.Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 4-- bookspoilsLindgren has written some of my favorite childhood tales, so I was beyond ecstatic to read about her in here!!

Coy Mathis (2007–): Elementary School Student.
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 5-- bookspoilsIt warmed my heart to see a transgender girl represented in Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. It made the book that more accessible.

Eufrosina Cruz (1979–): Activist and Politician.Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 6-- bookspoilsThe above quote speaks volumes to me.

Frida Kahlo (1907–1954): Painter.Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 7-- bookspoils

Grace O’Malley (c. 1530–1603): Pirate.Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 8-- bookspoils

Hatshepsut (1507–1458 BC): Pharaoh.Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 9-- bookspoils

Jane Goodall (1934–): Primatologist.Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 10-- bookspoils
Maud Stevens Wagner (1877–1961): Tattoo Artist.Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 12-- bookspoilsI can’t stop staring at the detailed beauty of the above piece, especially once compared to the real picture:maud_stevens_wagner


This diverse collection of women — from different backgrounds, religions, disabilities, ethnicities, sexualities — was as inspiring as it gets. And not only was their courage and strength legendary, but I found their worldview on life and all its aspects to be very illuminating and comforting.

Bottom line: This is the quality content I’m here for in feminist collections.

5/5 stars

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

Review: The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen

“A short story, she thought, would be just long enough.”

After seeing the author’s name almost daily on my copy of The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui – which he blurbed  – I finally decided to give his writing a go with this collection of short stories.

From a young Vietnamese refugee who suffers profound culture shock when he comes to live with two gay men in San Francisco, to a woman whose husband is suffering from dementia and starts to confuse her for a former lover, to a girl living in Ho Chi Minh City whose older half-sister comes back from America having seemingly accomplished everything she never will, the stories are a captivating testament to the dreams and hardships of immigration.

I went into this not knowing what to expect, but the first tale hooked me from the start.  “Black-Eyed Women” is set around a ghostwriter telling ghost stories after seeing the ghost of her late brother. The otherworldliness of this short story was  exactly what I’d been looking for.

“Now you know,” my mother said. “Never turn your back on a ghost.”

It was such a phenomenal introduction with exceptional writing that really set the tone for the following tales to follow. And I especially loved it because I read “Black-Eyed Women” at nighttime, so I felt right there with the narrator’s dark and gloomy descriptions.

However, the tales, folklore, and rumors that followed afterwards didn’t really live up to that peculiar first one. The other character driven stories paled in comparison for me, particularly because a lot of them were set around cheaters and liars.

But I’m more than intrigued to give Viet Thanh Nguyen’s writing another shot in his novel, The Sympathizer.

3.5/5 stars 

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

Review: Note to Self by Connor Franta

I was quite excited going into this because the promise of short essays, original photography and poetry combined into one sounded right up my alley.

You might recognise Connor Franta from his popular YouTube channel, and in this diary-like look at his life since A Work In Progress, Connor talks about his battles with clinical depression, social anxiety, self-love, and acceptance; his desire to maintain an authentic self in a world that values shares and likes over true connections; his struggles with love and loss; and his renewed efforts to be in the moment—with others and himself.

“Our words, our firsthand experiences, our shared truths can form ladders. And bring hope to others.”

However good the above might sound, in the end it didn’t quite live up. And I was disappointed to find Franta’s writing style coming across as quite hollow and privileged. Also, his weird “I’m a special snow flake” complex rubbed me the wrong way multiple times:

“I’ve never been a big fan of attending awards shows. Most are pretentious, and few are truly entertaining. In theory, it sounds fun to witness the glamour and chaos of the red carpet firsthand. But the truth is that once you’re done up, looking fine, and immersed in such superficial gatherings . . . it’s not all that. The novelty soon wears thin.
I don’t know. Maybe that’s just me.”

I couldn’t help but think of this hilarious tweet about Artsy White Boys™:

Then the genericness of Franta’s thoughts and feelings didn’t help his case either. There wasn’t anything compelling enough for me to continue on where the writing’s considered, so I did skim-read a lot towards the end. And another thing I want to point out: the atmosphere. It just felt so cold and standoffish with a lot of telling with little to no showing. I mean: “This. Fucking. Sucks. I’ll repeat that until you believe it: This. Fucking. SUCKS.”
Here’s an idea: How about you show me why it fucking sucks instead of repeating it for emphasis…

To be frank, Note to Self felt a lot more fitting for the blog post format than something you’d expect to read in a book. Which leads me to the pretentious Tumblr-esque poems interspersed throughout:

Note to Self 10-- bookspoils

 

Note to Self 11-- bookspoils

There’s a lot more where that came from… I’m genuinely rattled that this made it into the final version of the book.

However, to end this review on a much brighter note, I have to mention the vibrant photographs. Not going to lie, they were the only reason I continued on with this book. But I quickly noticed that – save for a few – the pictures weren’t as eye-catching as I’d hoped. (You can just go on Connor Franta’s Instagram for the same effect.)

But still, here are a few of my favorite photos to brighten this ending a bit:

Note to Self 1-- bookspoilsNote to Self 9-- bookspoilsNote to Self 7-- bookspoils

Note to Self 8-- bookspoilsNote to Self 6-- bookspoils
2/5 stars

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