Whiskey Words & a Shovel II

“You are rare.

I mean, there’s something inside you that can’t be found elsewhere.

Avoid anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary.

Avoid anyone incapable of seeing what you’ve always seen in yourself.”

– r.h. Sin

r. h. Sin’s Whiskey Words & a Shovel II is a pocket-sized instruction manual on self-love. Encouraging ideas connoting feminism, this second instalment of poetry of his does very well to remind one of the necessity of never settling, in life, love, work & when finding one’s passions.

What I love most about reading r. h. Sin’s poetry is the way in which he says what the reader finds difficult to think, let alone verbalise. Sin hints at the possibility to love profoundly once more, despite it looking as though once is enough, as many a lesson can be learned from first times that can be applied to second- or better yet, third- tries. Very uplifting indeed as he reminds the reader of the reality behind being able to overcome just.

About.

Anything.

In my twenty-something years of reading poetry, I’ve read associations between hurt people & not being ready to love again or having committed grave &/or irreversible errors. Sin, however, paints such individuals with an alternative brush, illustrating the fact that hurt people house the best kind of love & it is their bravery to love ardently that lands them into the hands of hardship sometimes.

Sin is that ideal companion who delivers the reminders that one requires regarding why one has to do what one has to do, whether that be

staying

walking away

vocalising

remaining silent

In short, Whiskey Words & a Shovel II did what its predecessor had so effortlessly achieved : move me in a most ‘never going back’ manner. It’s his ability to speak my very heart & soul’s language that drives myself to digest his words in a sitting & feel like several more volumes could be read in rapid succession.

Sincerely,

Sheeza

✍🏼

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Worlds of You: Poetry & Prose

“People are oceans. You cannot know them by their surface.”

– B. T.

Another blog post, another Beau Taplin shoutout, this time for Worlds of You.

I picked this book up knowing I’d need that pick-me-up that poetry offers. As I didn’t have my trusty journal to hand, I have with me now a quote- that I scribbled on an appointment letter of mine-, which I couldn’t not make a note of:

“Love is supposed to have sharp edges, it is supposed to be messy & unsensible, & if you go your whole life trying to keep your heart out of harm’s way, you miss out on all of love’s magic.”

I feel like, too often, one deems love a messiah, which it sort of is, but many forget that love has no universal manual; it is so dependent on the two persons involved (& whatever may be brought to the table with them) When two friends, partners, siblings- whosoever- interact, it would be near impossible (not to mention dull) for them not to bring with them their own special uniqueness, that which makes them them. A big thank you to Beau for reminding me of this one.

He writes about the kind of love that we all secretly or explicitly, low-key or high-key, are looking for. The reader may well find themselves coming face-to-face with lessons that are difficult to learn & accept. Taplin, though, writes about them in a way that consoles the reader, making them feel that little less alone in their hurt or worry.

Having said that, Taplin brings to light the necessity to find beauty in the little things, which love helps us to do, as we put on our rose-tinted glasses with our hearts urging us to never feel less than how we do: happy to be in the present.

Taplin teaches the importance of forgiveness towards moving on from a hardship, of looking pain in the eye with the resolve of one who will see it through.

He reminds the reader of the healing & restorative power that comes with the written word, as it can express feelings that are otherwise too difficult- or private- to say aloud to another.

Taplin provides a safe space with his poetry & prose for coming to terms with home truths, one of them being in relation to pain from a loved one being most felt. As I find myself doing with his poetry, Taplin allows for the reader to realise the inevitable hurt that can come with love … & jumping in anyway.

Taplin writes:

“Soon enough, we will all be bones in the ground, the oceans will dry up, the sun will burn out, & nobody will be around to remember we were here at all. So go, spend your time here with heart. Find what matters to you & manifest it while you can. Because while this universe we inhabit may be infinite & unfeeling, we are not, & that is our gift.”

Already anticipating the next arrival, with open arms x.

Sincerely,

Sheeza

✍🏼

The Little Prince

“Only the children know what they are looking for”

– A. S. E.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince (translated by Katherine Woods) tells the story of two men who meet after finding themselves both stranded in the Sahara.

One of them- known as the little prince– embarks on informing the other about all that he’s seen on his adventures around the universe, which in actual fact represents a microcosm of society, one that the little prince found he wanted very little to do with, since it revealed

gluttony

usurpation

insecurity

the fear to be oneself

& the thirst for power

Many are confused as to what type of story the book is (if it is an allegory or fairytale, a parable or folktale) I quite like how it is all of them, yet none: it needs no label to have done its job of reminding the reader to hold on to their inquisitive child self. I for one was certainly made to believe the notion that ‘grown-ups’ are overrated because they let go of whimsical dreaming & settle for reasoning. It is ‘being a child’ that allows for one to show genuine interest & actual presence in the today before them.

Finding beauty in all things, finding the treasure in the little things Saint-Exupéry lets it be known that things of beauty are destined for greatness, inspiring the reader to remain steadfast in maintaining a mind, body & soul that is rid of toxicity & rather coated with authenticity:

“& since it is beautiful, it is truly useful”

With imagination comes beauty, magic, power & ample miracles, of that I have been made more sure, having read about the little prince, who represents the miracle that comes with being a creative sort, as creativity paints the banality of life in a less harsh colour & helps individuals such as the little prince to look past realities of the world, like greed for power & authority, for instance.

Grown-ups are just as human as those a little less aged, who are simply trying their hand at life, who are neither as enlightened nor as learned as children tend to assume. The little prince affirms this & now I do, too.

A takeaway I can’t get out of my mind is the following fact: in everyone we meet, there lies a lesson, something to learn. This is particularly true of those we may encounter who we feel do not bring out the best in us. The least we can do is figure out what lesson they’ve taught us- how not to talk, act or carry ourselves, for example- so that we may become better selves anyway.

The little prince from Asteroid B-612 has my heart, as do the illustrations provided by Saint-Exupéry. As such, I would’ve preferred a different end to the tale (tempted yet?)

To my honest surprise, all in all: a short book full of complexity & meanders. Having said that, post-reading me was full of questions. Thus, the book is thought-provoking & compelling as it encourages the reader to think outside of the box, just like the narrator wanted when he first illustrated an elephant being swallowed whole by a boa constrictor …

… You’ll just have to read the book to find out what I mean. Very worth your while, I think you’ll find.

Sincerely,

Sheeza

✍🏼

Bloom

“Never be sorry for who you are. Your personality should never be shrouded in what society expects of you.

Be shamelessly, unapologetically you. You will find the world rallies behind those who carve roads of their own.”

– B. T.

Beau Taplin’s Bloom is a collection of words that aim to

liberate

heal

remind

& advise

I first came across Beau Taplin online, where he’s made quite the wonderful name for himself as an Instagram poet; to have received one of his books as a gift was a surprise that I am yet to really get over (& I hope I never do!)

Bloom is no ordinary book of poetry, for it combines stunning typography with words that provide a steady shoulder to its reader.

There was no way of predicting what the next page turn would entail, as one side writing about pain would be followed by another describing the process of coming out of the other side a stronger being.

A thing of magic I had come to realise upon finishing this read is how seamlessly Taplin was able to mingle strengthening statements with pained affirmations. Choosing to structure his poetry in this way illustrates the way in which life is made up of both good & ‘bad’, easy & tricky; how blessings & tribulations are symbiotic, not disparate.

Taplin does well to remind readers of hurt that is inevitable & unavoidable. He does even better to encourage the belief that one does not have to remain crippled as a result of such affliction, but can rather escape with the thought alone that experiencing & overcoming is part & parcel of one’s involvement with the universe we are a part of.

I could go on.

In short, poetry has a way of making me feel that little bit more empowered, tall & inspired. I find myself reaching for it particularly during times where I’m in need of a little pick-me-up. It’s my little saving grace, because it finds words that, at times, I’m unable to come up with myself. I’m sure other fellow avid readers of poetry would attest to it being their guardian angel in a very similar way, also. A special shoutout to Beau Taplin for being a poet who never fails to bring out a few smiles, tears & laughter out of this reader, time & time again.

Sincerely,

Sheeza

✍︎

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

“Never let anyone make you feel ordinary”

– T. J. R.

Taylor Jenkins Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo tells the story of a once constant in the spotlight actress who is finally ready to step out of her aloof lifestyle so that she may reveal an insight into her life that is sought by many, but granted only to Monique Grant, a journalist who has yet to turn any heads with her writing.

The novel is a combination of regular narrative writing & newspaper excerpts, which reminded me of a show close to my heart, Gossip Girl! Though I am not sure I liked the repetitive nature of it, I did appreciate how the articles represented the gossip-fuelled society of way-back-when (not that much has changed today)

The theme of love in this novel is touching & highly evocative; I recall getting rather emotional at Evelyn Hugo’s response to the question asked by Monique: “Who was your great love?” Ouf. I was reminded of what true love resembles, how it feels & its importance. I was taught the value of distinguishing between a toxic relationship & a healthy one.

Friendship was beautifully exemplified with the character of Harry Cameron, who stood out for his loyal & driven disposition, not to mention his unconditional love for Evelyn.

What is truly compelling about this read is the way in which Hugo’s marriages are discussed. Monique’s main focus regarding the superstar is the fact that she had been married a sheer seven times; the fact that every marriage made sense, in a way- particularly with regards to how it led to Hugo being how she was at the time of the interview, aged almost eighty- was a fascinating experience.

I especially enjoyed how much I learned about the significance behind the way in which well-known individuals are portrayed in the media; how one photo could entirely alter one’s identity. In a not at all sarcastic way, it does sound tough to be in the world of fame.

However, I must admit that the change in narration- from Monique to Evelyn- wasn’t the most clear. That didn’t discourage me from reading on, as, a few sentences into the new POV, I was back on track to being in either character’s shoes.

That said, this book is so easy to picture & very easy to read (the moreish & addictive writing did mean that, before I knew it, I was a hundred pages in); it’s a wonder that a movie adaptation has not yet been in the works (hint hint!)

Following Toni Morrison’s passing earlier this week, the following message couldn’t have been sent my way at a more apt time: age is but a number. Having read this book, I am feeling inspired to believe that it is never too late to go after what sets your soul on fire, to go after what feels right, Morrison being a most true example of that.

So, so, so, so worth the hype it was given on BookTube.

Sincerely,

Sheeza

✍︎

Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

“The present moment is filled with joy & happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it”

– T. N. H.

In a beautifully written collection of advice & life lessons learned, Thich Nhat Hanh’s Peace Is Every Step details the importance of being present in every moment, finding the silver lining & taking life one step at a time, one breath at a time.

Some say that self-help/personal development books tend to sound rather preachy & self-explanatory. I found this to be mildly true as I read Thich’s Peace Is Every Step (& I am an avid reader of books that focus on stating givens!) It is a small but highly mighty book; though it looks as though it can finished in one sitting, I found myself having to step back from it from time to time, in order to gather my bearings a little bit before continuing. Hence, just a little word of warning: the profound nature of Thich’s words lends itself to warranting some time away from it (which can be an advantage as retrospection comes to the fore!)

Having said that, I took so much away from this book & can see myself building a portfolio of his works within my personal collection; his take on life, though a bit overpowering, is refreshing.

One of my favourite takeaways from Thich’s Peace Is Every Step is how, in order to have positivity in one’s life, that positivity has to be created. He gives the example of switching off whatever degenerate show is being broadcasted on TV & could not have hit the nail on the head more. Too often, we are made to believe that if something is easily accessible- shows that make one unhappy, books that make one unhappy, people & relationships that make one unhappy- it must be given the time of day. Thich does well to affirm the ease & simplicity behind stepping away from all that brings one down so that one may walk towards all that brings one up.

The book to read if one wishes to learn more about being present everyday.

Rating: ✩✩✩✩

Sincerely,

Sheeza

Rainbow in the Cloud: The Wit & Wisdom of Maya Angelou

“If our children are to approve of themselves, they must see that we approve of ourselves”

– M. A.

Maya Angelou’s Rainbow in the Cloud is the most accurate representation of her voice that I have read to date. Accumulated in this too short a memoir are words from Maya Angelou herself that she has written and/or spoken.

Finishing this compilation of citations & quotations was bittersweet as I could not help but contemplate the questions I would have wanted to ask her. Having said that, her timeless footprint left on this planet is a most wonderful fact.

It is because of Rainbow in the Cloud that readers around the globe are left with this very evocative artefact, which echoes Maya Angelou’s life lessons, advice & mantras in a light-hearted yet rich fashion.

I am left truly inspired having witnessed her talent with word- spoken & written-: an authentic competence that succeeds in reaching so many hearts with very few words & humble anecdotes.

It is easy to see why Maya Angelou is so revered: though she speaks from personal experiences of the (slightly segregated) 1900s USA, I found myself to be learning a great deal that I may apply to my own life:

to respect one’s heritage & story with as few moments of inertia as possible

that it is okay to fall so long as one has a lesson to learn

how pertinent an attitude of gratitude is

not to be afraid to live

to live with love

Having Maya Angelou’s son- Guy Johnson- select each & every quote makes the collection precious. To have been gifted this book in the first place makes it that little bit more of a treasure to me. I would recommend this work of art to anyone in need of a nudge towards the truth that hardships are what make life a learning curve worth experiencing.

Sincerely,

Sheeza

✒︎

All the Bright Places

“I am rooted, but I flow”

– J. N.

Close friends know Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places to be my absolute favourite novel of all time. It is for that reason that I decided to dive into Finch & Violet’s world for a second time & (oh!) how it managed to move my heart & touch my soul (again)

The story follows Theodore Finch, a teenager – who could care less about sticking to the status quo – & Violet Markey, who wants nothing more than to escape the reality of her sister’s untimely demise. Meeting at the top of their school’s bell tower, both plan to take their own lives. Finch does well to talk Violet out of it … & it is then that their story commences. The reader follows Violet’s journey of falling back in love with life from a boy who wishes to forsake it.

I found myself to be empathising with Violet as she strives to strike a balance between mourning the loss of her sister & regaining control over her life again. She proves to be a worthy reminder that, whilst it is important to remember those who have gone, self love & care should not be neglected.

Finch is my favourite fictional male character in the most timeless way; his spunk earns him his rightful throne. Though he is someone battling mental illness, Finch is a sincere, genuine & happy-go-lucky individual who takes time & memories for what they are : a worthwhile reason to be in & enjoy the present moment.

For my birthday this year, I was gifted with the chance to recommend a book to a few of my friends & along came All the Bright Places (which, lo & behold, they loved, each & every one of them! A sight that is easy on the eyes & a sure-fire highlight of my 2019.)

Thanks to All the Bright Places :

I have discovered a love I never knew I had for classical writing, namely works belonging to Virginia Woolf

I am reminded to trust my heart that little bit more (scary thought, but here for it most ardently)

I am inspired to wander

All in all, for someone who doesn’t pick up the same book twice, Jennifer Niven did to me what she had done four years ago, when I first read the novel : destroyed my being. Haha! Could not recommend giving this a go more!

Sincerely,

Sheeza

Shatter Me

“Don’t fight what you’re born to be.” He grasps my shoulders. “Stop letting everyone else tell you what’s wrong & right. Stake a claim! You cower when you could conquer. You have so much more power than you’re aware of & quite frankly I’m” – he shakes his head – “fascinated.”

– T. M.

Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me follows the life of teenager Juliette who is held captive because of what most deem to be her destructive power: to kill from one touch of her skin. She is contained by the Reestablishment, a government in power during a turbulent time in current society, where animals & food are few & far between. Juliette grows up believing that she is a lethal weapon rather than the gift that she really is, as the reader comes to discover later on. Determined to regain her freedom, Juliette strives to escape in search of a life that she has been too afraid to envisage but has desired it regardless … & ardently so.

Mafi’s writing is addictive as anything, as I found myself blitzing through the pages in one evening; yawn after yawn came but I remained steadfast in reading as much as my eyes could stay awake for!

As for the writing itself, strikethroughs were a prominent feature, illustrating perfectly Juliette’s actual thoughts, like her believing that Adam (not the biggest fan of him, more on that later) is handsome she means dangerous

… Adam. Juliette’s confidant during her time in captivity. I feel like his & Juliette’s romance – when it does blossom -, though cute, was a bit rushed & not as authentic as I perhaps would have preferred. That may just be me rooting for the underdogs here. I’ll leave it at that because here’s the thing –

*spoilers upon spoilers*

As the story progresses, Juliette finds a stronger inner voice; there are fewer strikethroughs as she is more frequently thinking for herself (for the better), which was a notable demonstration of her character development & overall self-growth. Massive standing ovation worthy moment.

It’s safe to say that this book has left its mark on me, as I turned the final page feeling inspired by the reminder that being oneself in all of its entirety is best. A character like Juliette, who may well suffer as much as she does but then continues to encourage, advocate & motivate is one that will have my heart for a long while.

Sincerely,

Sheeza

Fahrenheit 451

“It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away”

– R. B.

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 tells the story of fireman Guy Montag, whose occupation is to burn books. In this rather dystopian novel, the written word is illegal; books are a sin, a crime & forbidden. It becomes the duty of individuals like Guy to rid society of the poison that spreads by one’s indulgence in literature. One sees the mundane in Guy’s life, from his lacklustre interest in being a fireman to his marriage with his wife, Mildred. That is until he is introduced to Clarisse, a symbol of hope for a world that is filled to the brim with story-telling & lesson learning. As the story goes on, Guy’s character transforms from a servant to the community to a freethinking being. Gaining strength is what pushes Guy to hide from his co-workers the very truth that he knows full well could destroy the life he has built for himself thus far.

The story reads like The Alchemist, a book that I have picked up on & off in the last couple of years. I feel that Ray succeeds in delivering a reminder of the power that comes with reading, so much so that characters in the book pledge that even:

"a little learning is a dangerous thing"

Presently, if I was ever asked the question, “Alive or perhaps not, who would you like to have met?”, it would be Ray Bradbury. I would have loved to have asked more about his personal life (being the eager weirdo that I love to be!) & would have enjoyed to learn more about his personal inspirations behind his esteemed literary vocation.

Voracious reader or not, I feel like Ray’s encouragement of thinking for oneself & doing that which makes one’s heart truly happy can speak to & impact anyone. The complex vocabulary interwoven into the elaborate plot may occasionally make you falter but very quickly catches you again & refuses to leave you be, this I swear.

Sincerely,

Sheeza