Review: So Much Synth by Brenda Shaughnessy

So Much Synth first caught my eye back in April with its dynamic last line of the introducing poem titled, I Have a Time Machine“the past is so horribly fast.” I hurried on to request it from the publisher (Copper Canyon Press); and was beyond ecstatic and grateful when my copy finally arrived in my hands at the start of this month.So Much Synth- bookspoilsSubversions of idiom and cliché punctuate Shaughnessy’s fourth collection as she approaches middle age and revisits the memories, romances, and music of adolescence. So Much Synth is a brave and ferocious collection composed of equal parts femininity, pain, pleasure, and synthesizer. While Shaughnessy tenderly winces at her youthful excesses, we humbly catch glimpses of our own.

Though I caught myself feeling a bit over-my-head with some poems at the start, the pace and momentum returned with the piece “Is There Something I Should Know?,” which at a whopping 30 pages never lost me for even one sentence. It succeeds immensely in capturing numerous themes of adolescence over the course of time, including periods (“blood and mess and cramps and hormones”), Judy Blume, books, angst, anxiety, catcalling, body-image and more.

On that note, I think it’s best now if I let the words and pieces speak for themselves with these quote excerpts:

“Adolescence is all absolutes: if bad, one must be the very worst
to avoid being mistaken for average.”

“I’d hide and lose and seek and find myself in every page:
laughing, rereading and then re-rereading out loud, disbelieving the details till my system could absorb them like the nutrients they were.”

“I’m not even sure anything happened to me.
Or to whom everything happened.”

And the fact that I read “Oh god, is there any music as good as what you heard
at fourteen?” the day I rediscovered this emo band I used to listen to at exactly that age was astronomical for me. [gets war flashbacks from the emo days]

I think it goes without saying that So Much Synth was not only beautiful and raw but real and aware of pain.” And I’m eager to continue on with Shaughnessy’s past and future works.

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

Expected publication: October 10th, 2017

4/5 stars

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

Review: Bunk 9’s Guide to Growing Up by Adah Nuchi

“The Sisterhood needs to know!”

Exclaimer: As a big sister, but foremost as a female, I’m over the moon excited that guides like Adah Nuchi’s, full of girl power, exist in the world for all to read from young to old.

Based on the lively conceit that it’s written by nine older girls at a fictional summer camp who share their collective been-there, done-that experiences, Bunk 9’s Guide to Growing Up is a puberty book with a twist, an entertaining, up-to-date, supportive guide that covers the head-to-toe changes that young girls go through as they grow up.

Bunk 9's Guide to Growing Up 1-- bookspoils

I don’t know how, but before starting Bunk 9’s Guide I’d somehow forgotten for a minute there that my little sister is set to go through puberty pretty soon, just like all the youngins, which to be frank still blows my mind. So knowing that I now have the opportunity to share this noteworthy, feminist guide to help even a little in the near future is something that definitely takes the weight off my shoulders.

“One of the best things about womanhood is sharing your experiences with other women…”

This realistic and all-inclusive read feels like a mix for fans and young readers of Judy Blume and Rookie Mag. That is to say: it’s a great way to start the conversation between parents/ guardians and their kids going through puberty. I truly wish I had something similar to rely on in my times of heavy confusion in everything relating my life during puberty. This felt like some much-needed closure. So I’m thankful for the umpteenth time for the existence of Bunk 9’s Guide to Growing Up with its pun-worthy title chapters and it being out there for readers in need.

Conversations circling the topics of puberty, hygiene, breasts, menstruation and the reproductive system, boys, health, and feelings… We also have mentions of period parties, treating pimples/zits/acne, social media, crushes and hormones, and how to “get through friendships, parents that drive you crazy, and new crushes…” Bunk 9's Guide to Growing Up 2-- bookspoilsI’m beyond excited and grateful with every fiber of my being that this fun, comforting, and enlightening read is out there ready to give you the support you need.

And to end this review, I’d like to share this fitting and hilarious Christine Sydelko vine on puberty:

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

Expected publication: December 19th, 2017

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Bunk 9’s Guide to Growing Up, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud by Anne Helen Petersen

From celebrity gossip expert and BuzzFeed culture writer Anne Helen Petersen comes an accessible, analytical look at how female celebrities are pushing boundaries of what it means to be an acceptable woman.

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud is divided into ten chapters, each examining unruly female celebrities “who occupy all different corners of the mainstream, from the literary world to Hollywood, from HBO to the tennis court. It includes several women of color, but the prevalence of straight white women serves to highlight an ugly truth: that the difference between cute, acceptable unruliness and unruliness that results in ire is often as simple as the color of a woman’s skin, whom she prefers to sleep with, and her proximity to traditional femininity.”

As you can read in the above quote, The author’s self-awareness was the first thing I noticed and immediately cherished in her writing. There’s no topic Petersen shied away from and this passion of radical honesty and transparency settled into my core. I took a lot away from it.

Though it took me a minute to settle into the frame of Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud, the essay that secured my interest most was on Broad City’s Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. It won me over in a beat with this single line: “In their world, men are as secondary as female friends are in the traditional rom-com. ”

This is what happy feels like. Oh, and this:

“Both Abbi and Ilana are deeply weird, but within the vividly rendered world of Broad City, their actions make some sort of sense, always in relation to each other. Of course Abbi would pose as Ilana for a six-hour shift at the co-op, or Ilana would devote an entire day to caring for Abbi after oral surgery—they’re each other’s first and foremost. Which is why there are no “bottle episodes” that focus uniquely on one character or the other: not because they’re not individuals, but because they’re always in each other’s orbit.”

Unlike my first impression regarding this book, it came to provide varying perspectives and radically de-center the story from the celebrity; rather focus on the messages and ideas they represent: Serena Williams (too strong), Kim Kardashian West (too pregnant), Hillary Clinton (too shrill), Jennifer Weiner (Too loud), Melissa McCarthy (too fat), and more.

“My hope is that this book unites the enthralling, infuriating, and exhilarating conversations that swirl around these women, but also incites new and more expansive ones. ”

I most certainly enjoyed reading and learning more about these unruly women and the notions they stood for. Feminist works like Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud are something I’ll never tire of seeing either on screen or on paper.

Plus, I’d definitely recommend giving this book a go if you enjoy looking up reviews of celebrities, TV shows, and books… Because this is a comprehensive, yet in-depth pool of knowledge of history, celebrity culture, double standards, LGBTQIA+ representation, feminism and challenging the norms of femininity. And there are of course a myriad other small things scattered throughout to keep you entertained from start to finish. I would say that the only thing I wasn’t too happy about was the fact that Lena Dunham was included in this mix. Thankfully, she was the last essay in here, so I just went ahead and skipped that altogether because I simply cannot support her character.

3.5/5 stars

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