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sakeriver

sakeriver

Joined May 2016

Writer, photographer, and host of the arts & lit podcast Keep the Channel Open.
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Black Under by Ashanti Anderson
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Black Under | Ashanti Anderson
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The Light Brigade | Kameron Hurley
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Through most of the book, I was thinking I‘d describe it like so: “The Light Brigade is to Starship Troopers as The Black Company is to The Lord of the Rings.” And that‘s true. It‘s also true that this story contains all of the brutality that I have come to associate with Hurley‘s work. But in the end I think this might also be the most hopeful book of Hurley‘s I‘ve read. I liked it quite a bit.

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The Light Brigade | Kameron Hurley
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I was only familiar with a small handful of Mary Oliver‘s poems before reading this collection, and it was a real pleasure getting to know more of her work. Oliver gets pigeonholed, I think, as a poet whose work doesn‘t have edge or depth, but I think that is profoundly wrong. There are contemplative nature poems here, but also angry poems and sexy poems, and throughout the collection, the presence of death can be felt. Definitely worth the read.

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There‘s a way in which the end of a serious relationship can shake your entire concept of yourself, and through your grief you have to find yourself again. I feel both the loss and the search here. I think I needed these poems right now.

The way that Yanyi braids poems about heartbreak and implied emotional violence with poems about transition and immigration is fascinating, too, each exploring different facets of a search for self.

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A Dark and Starless Forest | Sarah Hollowell
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This book has a lot of the same elements that I‘ve loved in Sarah‘s short stories—sisterhood, fat girl magic, eerie forests—but expanded into a perfectly paced and wonderfully satisfying fantasy novel.

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A Dark and Starless Forest | Sarah Hollowell
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Professional_Book_Dragon This cover is so interesting! I kept scrolling back to it. I can‘t wait to read your review! 1mo
sakeriver @Professional_Book_Dragon I‘ve read several of Sarah‘s short stories and I love them, so I‘m very excited for this one 🙂 1mo
Professional_Book_Dragon @sakeriver awesome! I‘ll check them out! 1mo
sakeriver 🙂👍 1mo
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I found myself thinking as I read about what this book is about, what its central idea or theme is. But I don‘t think there‘s a simple or tidy answer. It is more than one thing. And maybe that is the point, or at least part of it.

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The Witch Owl Parliament | David Bowles, Ral the Third
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This was a lot of fun, with a richly imagined world and wonderful art. Very cinematic in execution, with little narration or inner monologue—I think this would also make a great animated series. And I always love a book with a map in the front.

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The Witch Owl Parliament | David Bowles, Ral the Third
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It‘s been a long time since I‘ve read a CYOA book but this was fun. One thing I found interesting was that there doesn‘t seem to be one “correct” storyline/ending. Rather, there are many paths that lead to different satisfactory endings. I think this would be great for middle-grade or young YA readers who enjoy a sense of adventure and agency.

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Sugar Work | Katie Marya
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Something about these poems reminds me of the Jackson Browne album “Running On Empty,” not in the details but in the sense of an artist older and younger than their years running both toward and away from themself. Here, what I feel most is the speaker of the poems locating herself as an adult in relation to parents who couldn‘t be what she needed, and in relation to the child she no longer is. The line “I forgive me” rings through for me.

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Sugar Work | Katie Marya
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Beautiful & Full of Monsters | Courtney LeBlanc
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The title, “Beautiful and Full of Monsters,” describes the book itself, the poems, the men in the poems, the speaker, and the mess and violence and tenderness of love and desire, too. What I find most interesting here is the reckoning with that which is monstrous both in a lover and in oneself. And the collection as a whole adds up to more than the sum of its parts.

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Filthy Animals | Brandon Taylor
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I feel like if there‘s a through-line to Brandon‘s work, it‘s the silences that exist between people, what isn‘t said but is still loudly present. Small viciousnesses and small graces alike. What is desired but unasked for, and what is asked for but dismissed. And always this question of what we are really asking of each other, and what we owe each other. What an extraordinary writer.

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Beautiful & Full of Monsters | Courtney LeBlanc
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Filthy Animals | Brandon Taylor
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Brocken Spectre | Jacques J. Rancourt
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These poems feel so haunted to me, by the specter of the AIDS crisis, by God, by something like survivor‘s guilt. The speaker seems to struggle with what it means to be after, what it means to go on. Towards the end, in the last few poems, there is a turn toward the future and a feeling, to me, of the speaker reconciling himself with movement into that unknown. It feels like less a destination and more a bridge.

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Brocken Spectre | Jacques J. Rancourt
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I feel a lot of rage in these poems. And guilt at times, too. And a reaching, toward times, places, people, memories. And how the words are so often interrupted by punctuation—dash, colon, period—or caesura or stanza or line, but also how often the interruption is simultaneously a bridge. And how much in the body these poems are. It‘s really quite something.

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TiredLibrarian Great cover! 4mo
sakeriver @TiredLibrarian Isn‘t it gorgeous? 🙂 4mo
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The Wedding Date | Jasmine Guillory
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So, look, the blurb on the cover says this is a “warm, charming, sexy gem of a novel,” but for whatever reason I wasn‘t expecting it to be quite so sexy. But, whew! It was! And, you know what, reading this book made me happy. I think I‘m going to start reading more romance novels from here on out.

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The Wedding Date | Jasmine Guillory
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No Ruined Stone | Shara McCallum
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The poems in this collection, told mainly in the voices of the poet Robert Burns and a fictional granddaughter, imagine what might have been if Burns had emigrated to Jamaica. A potent narrative about erasure, inheritance, race, and slavery. A number of the poems take the form of interleaving columns, which to me spoke to sometimes confusing, interrupted experience of being mixed race.

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No Ruined Stone | Shara McCallum
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If the House | Molly Spencer
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My first read of these poems is that they describe the unsettling feeling that just precedes a moment of great transition. There is a feeling of incipience, of winter cold, where spring may, yes, bring new life but also reveals what was hidden under the snow. “Snow” is a word often repeated, as well as: storm, winter, blade, bird, crow, water, lake, river, boat, bridge, gray, stone, scrape, love. These poems are breathtaking.

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If the House | Molly Spencer
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The Bohemians: A Novel | Jasmin Darznik
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Perhaps this is not unusual but I am a bit of a sucker for historical fiction set in places I know well, especially when it features real-life figures I am familiar with. Lindsay Hatton‘s Monterey Bay springs to mind, for example. Here, Dorothea Lange is one of my favorite photographers of her era, and the Bildungsroman aspect of the novel is interesting. More interesting to me, though, are the parallels to contemporary racism and xenophobia.

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The Bohemians: A Novel | Jasmin Darznik
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The Vault | Andrs Cerpa
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Page by page, line by line, and sometimes even word by word, these poems feel fragmented to me, searching, the way grief—which is what I think this book is about—can make you feel splintered and wandering.

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The Vault | Andrs Cerpa
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Mona At Sea | Elizabeth Gonzalez James
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There is a thing about growing up as a high-achiever that makes young adulthood kind of unbearable in how it really shows you your limitations and the lack of control you have over your life, and I think this book captures it well. It‘s hard to see it as an opportunity when you‘re in the middle of it, of course, sometimes even well after you‘re young anymore. But it is, and i appreciated that here, too. I enjoyed this book. (CW: self-harm)

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Goldenrod: Poems | Maggie Smith
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Something Maggie and I once talked about was how her poems try to turn their faces toward the light. Do I detect more of a struggle to that turn in these poems? Or is it me that‘s struggling? It‘s hard to say. Many of these poems are about personal struggle—divorce and it‘s aftermath, in particular—or about an anxiety or sadness about the world. I feel in them a reflection of my own struggles, anxiety, and sadness, for which I‘m grateful.

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Goldenrod: Poems | Maggie Smith
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Hanif Abdurraqib is a writer who, fairly or not, has a reputation for melancholy. And there is melancholy in this book, but there is also so much joy and tenderness and the giving of deep, deep attention, which I‘ve always felt was the truest form of love.

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The Water Dancer: A Novel | Ta-Nehisi Coates
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This wasn‘t entirely what I was in the mood for but it was nevertheless quite moving. A story about slavery and freedom, it incorporates elements of fantasy in a way that, rather than departing from history into the speculative, actually heightens the feeling of truth.

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The Water Dancer: A Novel | Ta-Nehisi Coates
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On Haiku | Hiroaki Sato
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Coming away from this book, I‘m left with two realizations: how little I understood haiku beforehand, and how little I still understand haiku. I think I‘m a little closer, though.

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On Haiku | Hiroaki Sato
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So, this book was all the things I‘d heard it was. It was fire, yes. It was incisive, yes. And there is an element of speaking truth to power that feels important, but I think what feels most radical about it to me are the times when it feels like it‘s completely ignoring the white gaze. I‘m glad that this book exists.

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July | Kathleen Ossip
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In thinking about this collection, I find my mind keeps returning to the title poem, which makes up the middle third of the book. There‘s something so American about a road trip, and using a road trip as a way of reckoning with America itself, it feels apt. And not just with a place or a home or a country, but also reckoning with oneself, both one‘s complicity and one‘s power. I‘m going to have to think more but there‘s interesting stuff here.

Nute Excellent review! Some of my best thinking is done as I‘m behind the wheel driving on a long road trip. 🚙🛣 8mo
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I don‘t often read multiple books at once but I‘m making an exception here.

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July | Kathleen Ossip
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Squad | Maggie Tokuda-Hall
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So, this is a queer werewolf coming-of-age story, and if that sounds awesome to you then:
1. I agree
2. I think you‘ll really enjoy this book
3. I encourage you to preorder it