Mini ARC reviews: That Can Be Arranged + How We Fight white Supremacy

Today I offer you two mini reviews that I feel are too short to share on their own. Two different genres and formats but I think they have something in common — being written by POC and talking about experiences that aren’t usually talked about in media.

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I was sent this book as an advance copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.

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Summary: Chaperones, suitors, and arranged marriages aren’t only reserved for the heroines of a Jane Austen novel. They’re just another walk in the park for this leading lady, who is on a mission to find her leading lad. From the brilliant comics Yes, I’m Hot in This, Huda Fahmy tells the hilarious story of how she met and married her husband. Navigating mismatched suitors, gossiping aunties, and societal expectations for Muslim women, That Can Be Arranged deftly and hilariously reveals to readers what it can be like to find a husband as an observant Muslim woman in the twenty-first century.

So relevant in today’s evolving cultural climate, Fahmy’s story offers a perceptive and personal glimpse into the sometimes sticky but ultimately rewarding balance of independent choice and tradition.

Release date: March, 10th

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★★★★✩

I had such a fun time reading this! It’s a very quick read but it made me laugh out loud a few times (I was drinking tea at the moment and I narrowly avoided one or two cartoon-style spit-your-tea-laughing moments) and it was also a fun way to open my eyes to a world I didn’t know much about, the world of Muslim dating courtship and general pre-marriage shenanigans.

I didn’t know Huda before but I think she did a wonderful job at opening up about her life in a humorous and honest way, and regardless of whether you come from a similar background or from a completely different one, it’s very easy to relate to her. I was so happy for her when she understood her worth and didn’t settle for something that would’ve made her unhappy, and when she found her husband.

I really recommend this if you’re interested in the topic and I encourage you to go read reviews by Muslim reviewers rather than mine.

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I was sent this book as an advance listening copy via libro.fm for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.

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Summary: This celebration of Black resistance, from protests to art to sermons to joy, offers a blueprint for the fight for freedom and justice-and ideas for how each of us can contribute

Many of us are facing unprecedented attacks on our democracy, our privacy, and our hard-won civil rights. If you’re Black in the US, this is not new. As Colorlines editors Akiba Solomon and Kenrya Rankin show, Black Americans subvert and resist life-threatening forces as a matter of course. In these pages, leading organizers, artists, journalists, comedians, athletes, and filmmakers offer wisdom on how they fight White supremacy. It’s a must-read for anyone new to resistance work, and for the next generation of leaders building a better future.

Featuring contributions from:

Ta-Nehisi Coates
Tarana Burke
Harry Belafonte
adrienne maree brown
Alicia Garza
Patrisse Khan-Cullors
Reverend Dr. Valerie Bridgeman
Kiese Laymon
Jamilah Lemieux
Robin DG Kelley
Damon Young
Michael Arceneaux

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★★★★✩

I want to start this with the premise that I am white and I am an European who’s always lived in Europe. What I know about racial dynamics in the US comes from books like The Hate U Give, the news and social media. But I had never read a non-fiction book specifically about this specific topic so I was very interested when this book was in the January ALCs by libro.fm.

I found this book very well done. It’s a collection of not only essays but also interviews, poems, songs and reflections by Black people of different backgrounds, and they are collected into different sections. As a reviewer it would be impossible to rate each individual contribution, especially only owning an audiobook copy where I couldn’t take notes or bookmark things. And to be honest I feel like, with a book like this, to talk about each essay would be to miss the point entirely.

This is an important book because it makes it clear from the start that, while certainly being perfectly readable and enjoyable to someone who, like me, is white and doesn’t live in the US, is primarily targeted at Black people. There were some essays where I lacked some or all context to fully be able to understand, but that’s okay. If you’re white, no matter if you live in the US or not, do yourself a favor and don’t expect this to be written for you. Sit back, listen or read and learn, because there’s so, so much to learn from this book. And then give this book to your Black friends, to your white friends who are willing to listen to Black voices without “…but!” and without wanting to throw in their two cents. This is not about you.

ARC review: DROPKICKromance by Cyrus Parker

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I was sent this book as an advanced copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 

Summary: A collection of autobiographical poetry about healing and learning to love again from professional-wrestler-turned-poet, Cyrus Parker.

The first half of DROPKICKromance focuses on a toxic, long-distance relationship the author was involved in for several years, while the second half focuses on his current relationship with poet Amanda Lovelace. Ultimately, the collection tells about a profound journey of healing.

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Release date: March 6th 2018

TW: abuse by a partner

★★★★✩

This is a poetry debut I was highly anticipating and I wasn’t disappointed.

I don’t really know how to rate and especially how to review modern poetry other than by gut feeling, and this collection/memoir was so honest and raw that I couldn’t help but empathize with the author and what he went through. No matter who you are or what medium you use, it takes courage to open up as much as he did, especially when it comes to the first part of the collection.

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The story begins while the author is in an abusive relationship with a woman and through his poems he describes all the phases they went through and how he was constantly made to feel like he was not enough and he still hoped that everything would fix itself.

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He clang to the happy moments and the promises that this woman made, he kept forgiving her for the things she did and putting up a strong facade for the rest of the world while he worked as a pro wrestler.

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I also think at least part of the relationship (if not all) happened long-distance, and a few poems also touch on that aspect.

After many years he finally managed to leave her for good, and as with all relationships ending his world was completely changed, plus he came to fully realize how much this woman had abused him and his feelings. At some point during this fase, he met the now-poetess Amanda Lovelace and they fell in love, and the rest of the collection is about the initial part of their relationship.

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Reading this second part was cathartic because although it’s by no means says that “love fixes everything”, it does describe that, through a healthy relationship, they both managed to face their demons, together or on their own, but always supporting each other and being open about everything.

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I don’t really want to judge the style of this kinds of poems because I feel like it’s not my place, besides I think they manage to get to the point and they’re powerful that way and more accessible to anyone. I did find that a few were a little too simple, but overall it was a great and honest collection.

Review: How to Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Sex and Teenage Confusion by David Burton

I was sent this book as an ARC by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.

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★★★★★ 

(maybe more like 4,5 stars)

Goodreads synopsis:

A funny, sad and serious memoir, ‘How to Be Happy’ is David Burton’s story of his turbulent life at high school and beyond. Feeling out of place and convinced that he is not normal, David has a rocky start. He longs to have a girlfriend, but his first ‘date’ is a disaster. There’s the catastrophe of the school swimming carnival – David is not sporty – and friendships that take devastating turns. Then he finds some solace in drama classes with the creation of ‘Crazy Dave’, and he builds a life where everything is fine. But everything is not fine.

And, at the centre of it all, trying desperately to work it all out, is the real David.

‘How to Be Happy’ tackles depression, friendship, sexual identity, suicide, academic pressure, love and adolescent confusion. It’s a brave and honest account of one young man’s search for a happy, true and meaningful life that will resonate with readers young and old.

First off, let me start by saying that if this had been fiction instead of a memoir, probably my rating and my feelings towards this would be slightly different. But because the events in this are real, I don’t feel like it’s my place to judge or even comment on the author’s actions and thoughts, especially when he was a teen.

I really liked the way this was written. It was very straightforward and easy to read, even when the themes it featured were all but light and easy.
I’m not the best person to write a complete list of trigger warnings for this, but I feel like if one’s going to read this, it should be clear that self harm and suicidal thoughts/attempts are mentioned in this book.

The reason why this is not a full 5 stars for me is that the title might be a bit misleading. I never expected this to be a guide on how to be happy, but I feel like, given the title, the part that actually talked about happiness (or not) should have been slightly longer. Instead, it felt a little bit rushed, but it was certainly informative and it made for a good epilogue and offered valid pieces of advice.

Something that could bother someone is the lack of a definite label on the author’s sexuality. I don’t know if he now has found a label he can identify with, but all attempts of labelling himself in the book resulted in actually mislabelling. By the end of the book, he didn’t mention any sexuality-related terms anymore, and I feel like this could be confusing for someone reading this and expecting to find a set definition of the author/character’s sexuality. I understand if that’s how others feel, but as someone who believes that sexuality is (or can be, for some people) fluid, it actually felt refreshing to me to see how one can decide not to stick to any set rule or label if they feel like those don’t apply for them.

Keeping everything I said in mind, I’d certain recommend reading this book. It might surprise you just as much as it surprised me.