Review: “Milk and Honey” by Rupi Kaur

A review by Amanda

Milk and Honey uses free form poetry to tell the author’s experiences of survival. The book delves into childhood trauma, abuse, heartache, and healing. Divided into four parts, each focusing on a different part of her life, the poems and prose are emotionally raw and brutally open, often uncomfortably so. Rupi Kaur balances her unique perspective of life with the relatability of shared experiences of destructive relationships, misplaced trust, and finding oneself in the aftermath of disaster.

Readers will be drawn in by the author’s vulnerability and honesty. Emotional discomfort with the descriptions of trauma is likely at various points, but readers will be rewarded for following through. The prose is accompanied by simplistic illustrations that perfectly capture the feelings being conveyed. The author does not hold back. Readers will experience her emotions, ranging from fear, rage, shame, and sorrow to her passion, joy, relief, and love.

These are not epic poems that will take up too much of a reader’s time. Some pages have only a few lines, while others may have a paragraph or two. Each should be read with care, however, as every word contributes equally to the story. The lack of capitalization and haphazard grammar may seem careless but actually sets the tone for the author’s frame of mind, and does not in any way detract from the stories being told.

This book does contain descriptions of violence and sexual abuse and may not be suitable for everyone. I would recommend Milk and Honey to readers sixteen and older. Although it tackles heavy topics, it also offers hope for those who are trying to heal and it is absolutely worth reading and discussing.

My rating: 5/5 stars

We may receive a commission if you purchase through links in this post. Read our full disclosure here.

Review: “Chain Saw Confidential” by Gunnar Hansen

A review by Brit.

In the eyes of many horror fans, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is one of the greatest movies within the genre. It was released in 1974 and was quickly renowned for its craftsmanship and surprisingly bloodless violence. It was hated as much as it was loved. And in the form of Chain Saw Confidential, the one taking on the telling of the film’s origin story (and the reckoning of its legacy) is Gunnar Hansen. Who better than Leatherface himself to take on this muddy tale of dead chickens, melted film prints and runaway eight hour makeup chair sessions?

This book is largely an oral history of the making of Massacre, from the origins in the head of cigar-chomping director Tobe Hooper to the placement of the film in the Museum of Modern Art (and the scathing reviews that choice inspired). Helpfully, the story is also organized in the order of the actual movie’s plot. Hansen’s perspective is somewhat limited due to his starring role in the film. But he interviews cast and crew members extensively, openly admitting when details are inconsistent or if something has been completely forgotten. Add in thoughts about the movie from figures like John Landis (director of An American Werewolf in London) and it’s a very fun ride.

There are two reasons why I did not give this book five stars. The first is that readers who are inherently interested in horror and/or the filmmaking process itself will have a much better experience reading this book than those who are not. It’s undeniable. I’m a huge fan of Massacre, so naturally I enjoyed hearing about the nitty-gritty details about chicken bones and poor set insulation.The average reader may not care to hear about the post-production money distribution web of confusion that happened after the movie took off.

The second reason is that some readers may find Hansen’s treatise on horror at the end of the book tiring. It’s understandable that he has strong feelings on horror being connected to violence in American culture. But it’s 2017, and this debate now largely takes place only in academic and highly political circles. Even if you have no plans to watch Massacre for yourself, this book is still a good testament to the power of research and desire to tell the “real story” of how a legendary phenomenon came to be. Hansen writes in a wry voice that often reminded me of my grandfather. He’s exactly the kind of storyteller to take on this twisted, fun story.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

We may receive a commission if you purchase through links in this post. Read our full disclosure here.

Review: “You’re Never Weird On The Internet (Almost)” by Felicia Day

You're Never Weird on the Internet by Felicia DayA review by Amanda.

You might recognize Felicia Day from such shows as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse, Eureka, and Supernatural. Perhaps you’ve seen her web series The Guild on Youtube, or as a frequent guest on Wil Wheaton’s series TableTop. She also sang and danced alongside Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion in Joss Whedon’s internet musical Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. If none of these are ringing any bells, then chances are you wouldn’t recognize her if you saw her out and about – something she is used to. This book is the story of a precocious, talented, lonely child learning to embrace what makes her different and make those differences work for her.

Ms. Day tells an eloquent tale of a young girl, homeschooled by her somewhat “hippie” mother, who grew up to be an innovator of internet entertainment, and an inspiration to nerdy girls (and guys) across the world. The book is full of anecdotes and photos; some embarrassing, most hilarious, and occasionally heartbreaking. Anyone familiar with Felicia’s other works will immediately recognize her voice in this book. She comes across as genuine, down-to-earth, and raw.

I found this book to be an enticing read. Felicia’s frankness and humor drew me in and wrung me out, emotionally. I found myself relating to her struggles, particularly those concerning anxiety and depression, more than I had expected. It’s amazing for someone who deals with severe social anxiety to accomplish so much; founding Geek and Sundry, an online digital channel; writing, producing, and performing in various projects; starting a popular book club with thousands of members; and maintaining an active presence in social media.   All of this gives me hope that I can achieve my goals despite my own anxiety issues. I encourage anyone who feels trapped or limited by their fears to read this book, regardless of your familiarity with the author.


My rating: 5/5 stars.

We may receive a commission if you purchase through links in this post. Read our full disclosure here.

Review: “Of Foreign Build: From Corporate Girl To Sea-Gypsy Woman” by Jackie Perry

Of Foreign Build by Jackie PerryA review by Julie.

I would like to thank the author for allowing Fangirls Read It First to review Of Foreign Build: From Corporate Girl To Sea Gypsy Woman.

This novel is a memoir written by author Jackie Perry as a part of the healing process for losing someone close to her. Jackie loses the person she loves and is understandably devastated. She meets her now husband, Noel, and they decide to travel the world on a boat. When they begin their journey, Jackie is full of self-doubt and realizes life will never be the same. The boat crashes within 24 hours which makes her doubt their ability to survive in this new world. Despite her doubts, Jackie and Noel continue to travel around the world and soon she starts losing the fear of a new life and begins recovering from her loss. The author encounters and overcomes several challenges in this nautical, testosterone filled world to become a captain and maritime teacher, ultimately finding herself.

I chose to read this book because the summary sounded great. Jackie’s way of dealing with grief in a unique way, finding and marrying a new love, and traveling around the world in a boat had me intrigued. In reality, it is filled with stories from port after port. The author did not include much in the way of descriptions and glossed over parts of the story that could have made it interesting. If you enjoy boating and understand or appreciate all of the nautical talk that took place, this book could definitely be for you. Unfortunately I found it boring, making it very difficult to even complete.

My rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars.

We may receive a commission if you purchase through links in this post. Read our full disclosure here.


Fangirl Book Club Pick of the Month: “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed

Wild by Cheryl StrayedEvery month, our club votes on the book that we will read for that month. This month, the Fangirls Read It First book club voted to read Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed.

Spoiler-­free Synopsis:

Twenty-two year old Cheryl Strayed is struggling. Her overwhelming grief over her mother’s death, her family’s emotional distance, and her failing marriage have sent her to the brink of personal destruction. Four years later, she makes the impulsive, life-changing decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. More than a thousand miles of trail, crossing through California, Oregon, and Washington, the PCT is not for the inexperienced or the faint of heart. It is, however, just what Cheryl needs to get back to herself.

Fangirls’ Analysis:

March’s hostess chose this book for the club to vote on because it is an inspirational and true story about a woman confronting her demons and challenging herself both physically and emotionally. Club members voted for it because they had seen so much about the movie, because it had been on their TBR (To Be Read) list, and because they are fans of journey and travel stories.

What We Liked:

Club members enjoyed Cheryl’s no-nonsense approach to the gritty details of the hike – descriptions of her toenails falling off, for example. The author did not appear to sugarcoat anything about her experiences on the Pacific Crest Trail, or in her personal life that lead to her impulsive decision. The landscapes were brought to life vividly, and the story flowed well between past and present. We also appreciated that Cheryl didn’t live a “cookie cutter” life. She made a series of poor choices that led to her downfall. We find it admirable that Cheryl was able to recognize and acknowledge her mistakes and take drastic measures to correct her life. Her openness was refreshing and lacking the wallowing, pity-seeking tone that can be found in similar stories. There were several aspects of Cheryl’s life that members found themselves relating to, like the distance in her family after the loss of her mother, wanting to be alone with her grief, and the problems in her marriage.

What We Didn’t Like:

Some members felt that the story weighed too heavily on the physical journey. We would have liked to know more about Cheryl’s life leading up to her mother’s death and before her decision to leave on the hike. One member felt that Cheryl might have been more likable if they had gotten to know more about her.

Fangirl Rating: 4/5 stars

This page contains affiliate links. Read our full disclosure here.


Review: “Once Upon a Road Trip” by Angela Blount

Once Upon a Road Trip by Angela N. BlountA review by Danielle.

Fresh out of high school, Angie, a headstrong, fiercely independent teen from Minnesota, struggles with self-discovery.  Not sure who she is, what she wants to do with her life, or what kind of person she wants to become, she decides to take a cross-country road trip in hopes of finding some clues that will point her in the direction of adulthood.

This story is set fourteen years ago, nine months after the twin towers fell, and before GPS, iPhones, Facebook and mass media communication, when the internet was just beginning to gather steam; back when being on the open road by yourself truly meant you were utterly alone, unless you happened upon a pay phone. Angie travels the country, staying with acquaintances she meets on a virtual writing forum. Dead set on finding some sort of understanding of the woman she wants to grow into one day and armed with nothing but road supplies, one can of mace, a knife and her unshaking faith and trust in God, Angie sets out on the journey of a lifetime. She is not even close to being ready for the struggles, lessons and unexpected joys she finds along the way.

Once Upon a Road Trip by Angela Blout starts out very slowly, taking it’s time to reveal the main theme and Angie’s character. Between Angie’s religious judgment and the tired description of a female protagonist who’s gorgeous but doesn’t know it, I struggled at first to really get into the book. None of her peers saw her beauty, but magically, when you introduce a slew of new male characters, they all fall deeply in love with her. I get it, women relate to those insecurities and general feelings of being overlooked for a lifetime, and thoroughly enjoy being able to project themselves into the main character for all those warm fuzzy feelings when that special guy finally does notice, but it’s overused and tiresome. That being said, there are a few dark and twisted moments I was not expecting that really add depth to the story and some important life lessons I think all women should be aware of.

The author does an excellent job of vividly describing both destinations and the overall collective atmosphere of this particular time in history. I recognized it easily having been a teenager myself when the terrorist attacks on 9/11 rocked our nation, but it was truly eye-opening to view it through an adult point of view. The ending, however, I felt was a bit lackluster. After such a strong opening about this story being about self-discovery, I don’t feel that Angie gained any real insight of herself. While she did learn an important lesson in accepting disappointment, the reader is still left feeling a bit let down. There is a second installment though and I will keep my fingers crossed for Angie as she learns to navigate the real world and her first love at the same time.

Rating: 3/5 stars.

We may receive a commission if you purchase through links in this post. Read our full disclosure here.