Book Review: Forgive Me If I’ve Never Told You This Before by Karelia Stetz-Waters

Forgive Me If I’ve Never Told You This Before, Ooligan Press, October 31, 2014

If you’re like me and never get tired of the coming-of-age theme in books, then FORGIVE ME IF I’VE TOLD YOU THIS BEFORE, a YA novel from acclaimed romance writer, Karelia Stetz-Waters, will be right up your alley. But it’s so much more than just a coming-of-age novel too. It’s a book about overcoming prejudices and fighting for your identity against a bigoted world that is resistant to change. It’s about realizing that no matter how dark days get, there is always hope and goodness to be found in the world.

Triinu Hoffman just wants to be herself and love who she loves, which she discovers is other girls while attending high school in her small Oregon town in 1992. The state is in the midst of a midterm election, and on the ballot is a devastating bill that seeks to outlaw homosexuality. (Such a bill actually happened in Oregon, and again in 2000.) The state and the town are split down the middle in regards to the ballot. Among those who wish to see it pass are Triinu’s own principal, and a merciless bully named Pip, who both try to shame Triinu and make her life hell, sometimes even by working together. It’s heartbreaking to read, but Triinu is a strong woman who perseveres and overcomes adversity, discovering who she is and what she wants in life along the way. Forgive Me If I’ve Told You This Before is an inspiring, powerful story that proves love always trumps hate.

Book Review: Memories Flow In Our Veins—Forty Years of Women’s Writing from CALYX

Memories Flow In Our Veins by CALYX Editorial Collective, April 1 2016, Ooligan Press

MEMORIES FLOW IN OUR VEINS is a diverse collection of women’s writing from Calyx, a literary journal that’s been featuring women’s voices from all over the world for over forty years. The collection includes acclaimed authors Ursula K. Le Guin (RIP), Barbara Kingsolver, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of AMERICANA

One of the things I love most about this book, aside from the gorgeous cover and matte finish that feels amazing in your hands, is the balance between poetry and prose you experience throughout the book. It provides a seamless transition between short and long pieces that encourages you to keep reading. You’ll read a short story or two, and then come to some beautiful poetry to read slowly and digest before diving into the next story. Some of my favorites were “The Weight of Me,” where wrestling twin sisters discover their power when they realize they can control the outcome of their matches; “The Rash,” a daughter who sees another side of her father after her parents divorce; “Pighead,” a woman who taunts her family with a dead pig head she keeps in the fridge and refuses to throw out; and “Light Skin,” an essay by Adichie about her complicated relationship with her mother.

This is a collection of personal and real stories from Seattle to Nigeria that you’ll want to read again and again. They’re heartbreaking and compelling, and I felt like a woman reading them, like I was connected to the ultimate sisterhood of women everywhere.

Book Review: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

a book on a desk
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, March 6, 2018, HarperTeen

THE POET X is a beautiful and brilliant YA contemporary novel by Dominican-American author Elizabeth Acevedo that won the National Book Award for YA in 2018 (and her debut to boot!). This book was just so beautiful. Acevedo’s writing is exquisite and practically sings, however, in this book, the song is often sad and will bring tears to your eyes, especially the climax and ending. The book is about fifteen-year old Xiomara, who goes by X, and is a writer and poet living in Harlem, New York. Throughout the book, she writes poems in her notebook to express her thoughts about the conflict she faces at school and at home with her strict Catholic parents. She is a rich and compelling character and I felt for her deeply. I didn’t want this book to end, but at least I can read it again and again. 

This was the second novel-in-verse I’ve read (the first being BLOOD WATER PAINT by Joy McCullough, which I also highly recommend) and I definitely want to to start reading more books in this style. I recently bought WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH, Acevedo’s sophomore novel, and I cannot wait to read it. Like The Poet X, the book cover is one of the most gorgeous I’ve ever seen. And she just came out with a third book! Gee, I feel behind. But at least I have some incredible books to look forward to.

THE POET X is a must-read!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Welcome to Books and Daffodils!

Hi! Welcome to my blog, Books and Daffodils — named after two of my favorite things. I started this blog as a form of fun self-expression and to talk about all the books I love to read. I’d love to find new readers for my favorite books, especially the ones that not enough people have heard of, like This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada, for instance.

While books will be the focus of my blog, I do also plan on sharing thoughts on some of my other favorite things. This is where the “Daffodil” part of my blog name comes in. Daffodils are my favorite flowers, and for this site I’m using daffodils as a stand-in for all of my favorite things that I might choose to talk about. Odds are it will be some cute animal, new show or movie I enjoyed watching, or a cool place I’ve visited.

So welcome to my little corner of the internet. I hope you find your next great read, or favorite video of a cat on a treadmill in water. Thanks for coming by and happy reading.