Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Review: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

*Trigger Warning: This book explores themes of rape, violence and abuse*

'Milk and Honey' by Rupi Kaur was the poetry collection everyone on the internet was talking about towards the end of last year but, as is usually the case, I was pretty late to this party.

This collection was so popular online it brought poetry to the attention of so many people who might normally shy away from the genre and as a poetry fan, I have to recognise the significance of that. However, on the whole, I thought the praise 'Milk and Honey received was exaggerated to an extent. 

It's important to note, at this point that poetry, like all art forms, is completely subjective. What one person sees as mediocre at best another may consider to be life changing. With that in mind, I have to say Rupi Kaur's collection was just not my cup of tea. Don't get me wrong, her way with words is undeniable and several of her poems left me lost for words, such as:

“you tell me to quiet down cause
my opinions make me less beautiful
but i was not made with a fire in my belly
so i could be put out
i was not made with a lightness on my tongue
so i could be easy to swallow
i was made heavy
half blade and half silk
difficult to forget and not easy
for the mind to follow”

Many of her poems, to me, did not feel like poems at all. Rather they were merely simple sentences that had been separated by line breaks. Of course, poetry is subjective but that to me did not feel like poetry. Many poems have line breaks in the middle of a sentence or phrase but they are often used to bring deeper meaning to the poem whereas Rupi Kaur seemed to be using them at random points in her poems. Or maybe she did and I'm just not very good at poetry! One review I read described it as "Tumblr poetry" which I feel is very fitting, especially as Rupi Kaur garnered a lot of online attention for her poetry before the collection was published.

Despite being somewhat disappointed by this collection I have to commend Rupi Kaur. She self-published 'Milk and Honey' in 2014 and has since sold half a million copies worldwide. This collection brought poetry to the forefront of people's minds, people who may never have wanted to read poetry before now. She also explores themes which are often absent from poetry such as violence, abuse and the less glamorous side of femininity. These topics are very hard to find in poetry and people are often discouraged from talking about them so if this collection helps somebody who is struggling with these issues, that can only be a good thing.

Have you read 'Milk and Honey'? Let me know what you thought of it!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

My Favourite Fictional Females

Happy International Women's day! To celebrate this day, I wanted to share with you some of my literary heroines. The world is always in need of some strong leading ladies, here are just a few of mine.

1. Hermione Granger, 'Harry Potter' series by J. K. Rowling

We can't talk about female characters without mentioning, the modern-day feminist icon that is Hermione Granger. She is smart, loyal, passionate and - most importantly, completely unapologetic in herself. There's so much I could say about why Hermione is a brilliant character, and I'm particularly interested in the popular reading of Hermione as a woman of colour. I'm actually going to write a separate post about why I love Hermione, I can't sum it all up in a couple of sentences. After all, she is the brightest witch of her age.

Lucy was one of the first female characters that I felt a real connection to. She has a quiet strength and self-confidence about her. The youngest and smallest of her family she could have been easily overlooked but she was the heroine of these books. Time and time again, Lucy's family doubted her, about the existence of Narnia in 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' and about her sighting of Aslan in 'Prince Caspian'. Lucy held her own throughout the books. Her faith in Aslan, Narnia and most importantly, herself never wavered. She may not be physically strong but she is a heroine none the less. Strength comes in many forms.

I've mentioned 'Sofia Khan is Not Obliged' on this blog before. Muslim women are incredibly under-represented in literature so it was refreshing to read a realistic depiction of Muslim life in the 21st century. Sofia is hilarious, brutally honest and not afraid to stand up for herself (see: London Underground scene). It was also nice to read a book with a female character who did not have to change a single aspect of herself in order to find love. In fact, that was a very important element of the story, throughout the novel, Sofia remained fiercely determined to find a relationship on her own terms.

Hear me out! Believe me, I KNOW Shakespeare's reputation falters when it comes to his writing of female characters but personally, I think Hermia is his best-written woman please correct me if you think I'm wrong). She openly defies her parents, yes, she runs away with a man but in those times, that would have been scandalous. She is summed up perfectly with the quote, "Though she be but little, she is fierce." Ever since I first saw the play performed live (at The Globe Theatre no less), I've made that line my life's mantra. 

Who else would I wrap up this list with other than the Girl on Fire herself? She is fierce and strong yet kind and gentle in her own way. Katniss Everdeen is an all round badass. She risks her life to protect her younger sister and makes it her duty to protect Rue during the games. Not to mention the fact that she leads the resistance against a dystopian government, what else could you want in a woman?

Who are your favourite fictional women? Let me know in the comments!
I hope you all had a good International Women's Day 2017 and remember... Who run the world? Girls!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

February Wrap - Up

Despite being the shortest month, February always seems to drag on. I've only read a total of three and a half books this over the past twenty-eight days. I wish I could tell you it's because February is such a short month and I've been really busy but, truth be told, I've just not been reading all that much. Hopefully, March will be different!

1. The Manifesto on How to be Interesting by Holly Bourne

I've already written a review for this book so if you want to know what I thought, you can read that here.
Rating: 3/5

2. Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers

(This is the 'and a half' I mentioned earlier - I didn't finish this book) This was given to me a long time ago and I've only just got around to reading it. It was a very stereotypical self help book and didn't really give any practical advice for overcoming fear and anxiety.
Rating: 1.5/5

3. Selected Poems by e. e. cummings

I love poetry but never seem to read much of it. E. E. Cummings is fast becoming one of my favourite poets so I was really excited when I saw thise little collection whilst browsing through Waterstones. It's a lovely little collection, I reach for it if I'm ever feeling stressed and need to unwind.
Rating: 5/5 

4. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

 - 4/5 I must be one of the last people to hop on board this bandwagon but I really enjoyed this book. It was quietly gripping, in such a way that you don't realise you've been reading for almost an hour and have barely moved. There's nothing like a thriller to bring you out of a reading slump!

What was your favourite book that you read in February? Do you have any books you're excited to read in March? Let me know in the comments!