REVIEW: do you suffer?

Every second week of the month, we read a poetry collection. I have a lot of those and there’s definitely going to be more on my blog in the future.

I do fear that I fall into some sort of poetry niche, since I enjoy reading different genres and need to switch it up, else I become desensitized. There will be a lot more coming in November, and in January, but not too much that it will flood you.

Hopefully.


do you suffer?
by Guinevere Yoseyva,

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BOOK SUMMARY

“do you suffer?” is Guinevere Yoseyva’s first book of poetry spanning from late 2018 – 2019. This collection of their work exists as a documentation of their internal suffering from this period. It is a manifestation of their attempt to work through this mindset and lives as a release of these emotions.

BOOK REVIEW

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

*A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

“do you suffer?” is a collection of poems centered around the theme of suffering from sadness, anger, loss and betrayal. It is personal and reflective, and it feels like I’m reading a diary.

Yoseyva’s poetry is a joy to read. I enjoyed the personification and the way the poet chooses to describe things. Unlike many poems that focuses on imagery, the poet chooses words carefully that emphasises feelings. I have a few favourite lines but especially the opening line below, it still makes my jaw drop, even weeks after reading it.

the grinning moon
smiles down on everyone
but me

Guinevere Yoseyva

I love the titles. To me, that was the best part of this collection. I also enjoyed the way the writer uses the formatting of text to enhance emotions and context, it’s always a pleasure to read books like that.

However, I have some minor issues with this book. There were some poems I couldn’t understand because of the context (I don’t get the part about Paris Hilton’s jealousy..?) so I couldn’t enjoy it fully. There were also minor spelling errors which were overlooked, but it didn’t affect the reading too much.

Yoseyva is also an artist, which you can view and purchase here.

REVIEW: The Humiliations of Pipi McGee

I realised as a book reviewer, I’m filled with nothing but regrets. Today, we review a book I regret not reading earlier.

This was a book I downloaded from NetGalley back in 2019, when I first started reviewing. Suddenly I was overwhelmed, fell into a slump, multiple slumps, and now in 2021, I am kicking myself for not reading this earlier.

It was great. My heart is warm, so are my tears. I had a great time going through rollercoasters of emotions with this one.


The Humiliations of Pipi McGee
by Beth Vrabel

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BOOK SUMMARY

Award-winning author Beth Vrabel writes with humor and empathy about a girl who wants to shed her embarrassing moments before she leaves middle school behind her. The first eight years of Penelope McGee’s education have been a curriculum in humiliation. Now she is on a quest for redemption, and a little bit of revenge.

From her kindergarten self-portrait as a bacon with boobs, to fourth grade when she peed her pants in the library thanks to a stuck zipper to seventh grade where…well, she doesn’t talk about seventh grade. Ever.

After hearing the guidance counselor lecturing them on how high school will be a clean slate for everyone, Pipi–fearing that her eight humiliations will follow her into the halls of Northbrook High School–decides to use her last year in middle school to right the wrongs of her early education and save other innocents from the same picked-on, laughed-at fate. Pipi McGee is seeking redemption, but she’ll take revenge, too.

BOOK REVIEW

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Hurt people hurt people

Beth Vrabel, The Humiliations of Pipi McGee

A copy of this book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

With a combination of lovable characters, fast-paced storyline and enjoyable writing, I couldn’t put this down.

8th Grade: a new school year, a chance for new beginnings. For Pipi McGee, it’s a chance for new beginnings but first, she needs to check things off her list, ‘The List’, that is, of her 8 biggest humiliations and taking revenge on everyone who has humiliated her. From Regina George in middle-school form vile Kara Samson, her long-term unreciprocated crush who had rejected her in a horrific way Jackson Thorpe, and the ever-unbearable Frau Jacobs… and almost everyone who has ran away, shunned and snickered from the Pipi Touch.

Despite all that she has been through, she had her best friend Tasha by her side. Bold, fearless, captain of the track team and a book nerd with dyslexia, who no matter how busy her schedule was, had always made time and stood up for her best friend Pipi. She also had Ricky, who had always been there for her from the beginning, but she was too blind to realise and only believed they were friends because of his crush on Tasha.

I loved all the characters. From Pipi, her family, her schoolmates, the popular group in school, but maybe not the boring as stale bread Jackson Thorpe. He is still young, sure, figuring himself out, sure, but man I wished there was more to him. That aside, I loved the relationships and complex personalities of the characters in this book. Especially Pipi, who at times made me want to yell and hide in fear of consequences for her actions, yet hug and comfort her at the same time.

Aside from school, it focuses on Pipi’s family life, with her bad relationship with her sister Eliza, her adorable but insanely intelligent and wise for a 4-year-old niece, Annie, and her divorced parents and her mother’s new boyfriend Alec. It was refreshing and a lovely balance to the chaos in school, and it gave more depth into Pipi’s life outside of working on The List.

I especially liked how this book deals with issues like bullying, and generations of hurt and power complexes. The storyline is rather predictable, but I believe it falls under the good side of predictable, where it is set-up well and made sense. It was a very enjoyable read.

REVIEW: The Soulless Shoe

Today’s poetry collection reminded me of a struggle I have with book reviewing – ratings.

Rating books that are quite personal to the author: where do you stand? On one hand, you can have your own thoughts and feelings about a book. On the other, it is someone else’s life that we are rating, or maybe the portrayal of it. It feels strange to give it a number, as if we are right to decide.

Where do you stand on this topic? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


The Soulless Shoe
by Mehak Goyal

BOOK SUMMARY

It is a chapbook on poetry divided into 3 parts: tattered, stitched and adorned.

The first section deals with the agony of heartbreak.
The second section focuses on healing and recovering.
The third section captures the desire to fall in love clouded by the doubts of being broken again.

BOOK REVIEW

Rating: 3 out of 5.

*An e-copy was given by the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Soulless Shoe is a short poetry chapbook, good for a quick read that you’re able to finish in one sitting. It is divided into 3 parts covering despair, hope, and finally being mended back together, and it begins with a poem that illustrates the scene, and the following poems after that enhances it.

It seems like a whole story told through 21 poems, however, because of how there wasn’t any clear indication that there were separate poems, it could be just 3 very long poems and that is very impressive.

In terms of the design and layout, a line art accompanies every poem, and the layout was unlike any other that I’ve read. Traditionally, poems would either be centered in the middle, or aligned left, but there’s variation throughout the pages which I really liked. It’s extremely rare to see a poem aligned to the right, but for all 3 layouts in one book? That’s new.

It feels strange to write a review of this collection. On one hand, it is only 36 pages from cover to cover, on the other hand, it is so personal to the author. For someone to write poems as perhaps a form of catharsis, it is difficult to give it a number rating (but in the end I did).

For the sake of a review, from a reader’s perspective, I appreciate the hope, joy and strength towards the end of the book. Other than that, it is quick and sweet, but left more to be desired.

REVIEW: Halcyon (The Perfect Circle Trilogy, #2)

I reviewed the first book (Nimbus) in the Perfect Circle Trilogy a few years ago. I really enjoyed it then and it was personally one of the better reviews I’ve written. It was an instant five stars.

The second book came at a different time in my life. It took me 2 years, 2 months and 5 days to read.

*I suggest reading my review of Nimbus before diving in, or at least reading the summary of the two books. There will be references, but no spoilers of course.


Halcyon
by A.C. Miller

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BOOK SUMMARY

It’s been three months since the events that transpired in Nimbus. Three months in which Sam, Sean, and Elise have tried to get over the nightmare that wanted to kill them; the same nightmare that ended the lives of those they loved. Now, time is up—somewhere else is calling them; somewhere else desires to test their strength.

A new place beckons for Elise to learn its ways.

It pleads for Sam not to shy away from the horrors he may experience.

It begs Sean to show his strength when he least believes he can. And the longer they wait, the stronger the call becomes; the more it dares to make them suffer until they find and answer it.

In Halcyon, Sam, Elise, and Sean search for a new world, a new home by leaving everything they’ve ever known behind. With no clue what lies ahead, will they discover a new society and a new way of living, or will their haunted pasts catch up with them?

BOOK REVIEW

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

*A physical review copy was given by the author in exchange for an honest review.

“You have to acknowledge the pain and use it as fuel to keep you moving forward, to keep you from ending up in the same spot.”

– A.C. Miller, Halcyon

When reading Halcyon, half the time you’re confused, the other half you’re terrified. You’re transported into the story, and just like the characters, no one knows what is going on or what is ahead. However, just like them, you need to continue forward.

Following the events of Nimbus, Sam, Elise, Sean and the other survivors that they’ve found have nowhere to go. Until Sam and Elise begin to experience strange nightmares that tell them of a new place. They’re compelled to follow the strange voice that is guiding them, and that’s how they reach Halcyon – the next circle.

If I were to describe this book, it’d be a dark, dystopian thriller. It is not an easy read, its filled with anxiety and it’s kinda creepy. Yet there were moments I felt extremely relieved and relaxed, thinking Halcyon seems nice, only to be proven wrong, multiple times. There were so many twists and turns in the story. One moment they are drinking a chocolate soda (is that a real thing?), the next moment they are threatened to have their pinky cut off. You know a story is good when the villain is disturbingly evil, yet at some point, you feel compassion for them.

The story switches between the 3 POVs of Sean, Elise and Sam. It is written in short chapters, which makes reading a 317 page book rather easy. I know I took 2 years to read this, but once you get into the groove, you’re able to go through 30 or 40 pages very quickly. I really enjoyed how there was a lot of wisdom spilled on these pages. I often find myself wanting to take pictures of it whenever I came across them, but sometimes, it’s better for people to read it for themselves.

Towards the end, it felt a little rushed, yet if I were in that position, I would’ve done the same thing. I guess, as a reader, after seeing the amount of torment they’ve gone through, I became a little sceptical of anything positive going their way. I guess that’s what Halcyon does to you.

REVIEW: September 11, 2001: The Day the World Changed Forever

It happened a little over a year after I was born. I don’t know much about that day, or how it affected my family, I didn’t ask. What little I knew came from the media, so this is the first book I’m reading about it.

I wouldn’t be able to bring anything to the table, but I’m sharing this easy to understand graphic novel that shows the aftermath, the physical and non-physical effects of 9/11. There were mentions of this being somewhat of a propaganda from a 1 star Goodreads review that I’ve read, but whether that is true, I’m unsure. Though, take it with a grain of salt.

What I will be sharing is based of my own personal opinion, and it will only be a review of this book.


September 11, 2001: The Day the World Changed Forever
by Baptiste Bouthier and Héloïse Chochois (illustrator)

get it here

BOOK SUMMARY

What do younger generations know about the terrible tragedy that shook America and the world on September 11, 2001? In this gripping documentary work by journalist Baptiste Bouthier and illustrator Heloïse Chochois, we first learn about the historic day from several inside perspectives. In the second half, the authors take stock of 9/11 in the days, weeks, and years that followed, from tramautized America to George W. Bush’s crusade against the “axis of evil.” A not-be-missed piece of graphic non-fiction, published 20 years after the events in question.

BOOK REVIEW

Rating: 5 out of 5.

*A copy of this book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

What I know about the September 11 incident is limited. I’ve heard of it, know a little of what happened, but this is the first book that I’ve read about this day. It definitely helped me understand the severity of it, as it is more than about the thousands of people who lost their lives that day. There were also plenty of events that happened shortly after.

From the September 11 incident, it branched out into the Patriot Act, the NSA, terrorism and war. It showed me something new that I never knew about, which I’m very thankful for. Unfortunately, there was only a short part on Islamophobia and racism, which I wished they could’ve highlighted more of. Although, they covered a bit on the Guantanamo detention camp.

My favourite part was when Juliette’s mother asked “from what angle?”, in regard to Juliette telling her mother about the discussion her history class had regarding the incident. It was a brief moment, but that question was impactful.

It seems strange to comment about the illustrations when such a heavy and important matter is at hand, but it is great. I particularly liked the airport scenes, the one with the firefighters going up the stairs, and the one on the many U.S. intelligence. I liked how they fit multiple ideas into just one frame of a page.

It is sad to say not much has changed, but I’m still glad to have been able to learn about world history through this book.

REVIEW: A Lens Without a Face

I’ve been reading a lot of poems since May last year, when I realised my inbox was flooded with poems. It still is, but I’m reading one every month to get it to a manageable amount. So far I’m trying to diversify the genres I read so there’s a little bit of variety, but I’ll be doing Poetry Jan, where I read poetry throughout January and hopefully find a few favourites.

Feel free to join me!


A Lens Without a Face
by Maddisen Alexandra

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BOOK SUMMARY

Reflection is the best medicine for soothing the pain life deals. To dance with the forgotten ideals society so selfishly disposed of means to be free. I have a colorless lens waiting for someone to see through…101 lenses to be exact. Each one craves exploration. Each one requires a personal narrative to breathe.

BOOK REVIEW

5 STARS

*An e-copy was given by the author in exchange for an honest review.

I can’t compliment this book enough.

A Lens Without a Face is a poetry collection with 101 poems, and all the poems are numbered instead of given a title. The author stressed time and time again to reflect, and even left a page blank after every poem for reflection, notes, or drawings to challenge the reader to be creative.

The titles for each poem was revealed at the end which was something new to me. It creates a sense of mystery, and lets the reader read and consider the poem instead of judging it because of its title. I really appreciate how it makes you try to understand where the author is coming from by reflecting on your own experience. Just as how the author intended.

I really can’t write a review that does this collection justice. Almost every poem makes my jaw drop in awe. All I can is that Maddisen Alexandra is a very skilled poet and a writer.

The poems had a very artistic way of showing our society. It is very visual and heavy on imagery, yet somewhat delicate in its way of choosing words. There were so many brilliant lines and great technique. For most poems I’ve read, I admire it for their flowery words and fun rhymes, but this, each line was crafted carefully. I don’t think I’ve read any as good as this.

One thing is certain, is that the poems feels very personal as if I’m reading a diary, and sometimes I don’t even know if I should be reading it. It deals with mental illness, observations of the world, pain, divorce and hope. Towards the end, there were the list of titles, and some of these titles are the best titles I’ve heard. It really shows the poet’s fun personality with titles such as ‘Peace Out My Homeskillet Biscuits’ and ‘*Cue Epic Mic Drop*’. It was a great way to end the collection.

REVIEW: In

Graphic novels should be for everyone, regardless of age. It’s a great palate cleanser after a heavy book, great introduction to reading after a slump and it’s a great thing to read if you want to reach your reading goals.

I was in one of my rare moods of wanting to read a graphic novel. Whilst browsing NetGalley, I found this gem, and it’s by a New Yorker cartoonist. I’ve never clicked on it faster. I’ve always admired the artwork on the New Yorker magazine. Sometimes I wish I could purchase the magazine, cut out the cover and frame it.

I could go on and on about my love for the magazine covers, but that’s a topic for another day.


REVIEW: In
by Will McPhail

BOOK SUMMARY

A poignant and witty graphic novel by a leading New Yorker cartoonist, following a millennial’s journey from performing his life to truly connecting with people

Nick, a young illustrator, can’t shake the feeling that there is some hidden realm of human interaction beyond his reach. He haunts lookalike fussy, silly, coffee shops, listens to old Joni Mitchell albums too loudly, and stares at his navel in the hope that he will find it in there. But it isn’t until he learns to speak from the heart that he begins to find authentic human connections and is let in—to the worlds of the people he meets. Nick’s journey occurs alongside the beginnings of a relationship with Wren, a wry, spirited oncologist at a nearby hospital, whose work and life becomes painfully tangled with Nick’s.

Illustrated in both color and black-and-white in McPhail’s instantly recognizable style, In elevates the graphic novel genre; it captures his trademark humor and compassion with a semi-autobiographical tale that is equal parts hilarious and heart-wrenching—uncannily appropriate for our isolated times.

BOOK REVIEW

5 STARS

*A review copy was given by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
t/w: sex, nudity

The perfect balance of an interesting storyline, gorgeous illustrations and a brilliant use of colour. This book is a work of art.

‘It’ is a funny graphic novel by New Yorker magazine illustrator Will McPhail, and it is snarky, creative and reflective. The dialogues were hilarious and comedic without trying too hard, and the characters were likeable. It has been a long time since I’ve read something as good and memorable as this.

The story follows Nick, a 21st century ‘woke boy’ who spends his days in and out of cafes, working a job he hates and often times could be heard exciting himself through the walls and listening to Joni Mitchell right after. He struggles with emotional intimacy, and often has internal monologues about keeping a façade in a world where people commonly engage in small talk.

Then enters Wren, a wry and outgoing oncologist that he met at a bar while he was reenacting the common ‘sad guy at a bar’ scene from a ton of movies (he reference movies quite a bit throughout the story, most of the references fly past my head but I can still appreciate it). They hit off almost immediately and form an interesting relationship with plenty of sarcasm, teasing and emotional moments. She’s my favourite part of this book.

A big chunk of the book was on Nick trying to have conversations that matter with the people around him, and trying to know the person before it becomes too late. I also loved how McPhail left hidden messages in the scenes, especially the names of bars and hipster cafes. A reflection of society and businesses. It’s clever and always a joy to read. He writes in a way that is holding a mirror towards the audience and reminding them to reflect and form better relationships, encased in satire.

Colour is use very wisely in this graphic novel. Most of the pages are in black and white, heavy on the shading, but there are instances where colour is used, commonly to portray the explosion of emotions and happiness when there’s a connection or vulnerability. It is literally a burst of colour, and it is beautiful. Some scenes even looked like photographs.

It’s amazing.

REVIEW: Melting

Today we read poems again.

I’ve been getting more poems in my inbox and I’m slowly going through it so there will be a poetry collection review every month. It’s a change of pace from other books and it’s always great to tap into the emotions and reflect once and a while.

Do you have any favourite poems?


Melting
by George Stumpf

get it here

BOOK SUMMARY

Melting – the ache of the heart, the breath of the soul is a poetry book exposing humanity’s insecurities, regrets, desires and the hope that never fades. The author, George Stumpf has written this over two decades of happiness and despair and, like Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey, even uses prose writing to touch the core of the agony and ecstasy many people feel. Each poem will take you on a journey and inspire you to explore your emotional intelligence!

The MELTING poem book is ultimately about hope and is divided into three chapters, each serving a different purpose.

BOOK REVIEW

4 STARS

*A review copy was given in exchange for an honest review.

If you want to be blown away. This is the book for you.

These poems are intense in feeling. Each line was sculptured carefully. It left me speechless, yet also feeling at peace knowing that someone feels this way too. I read it, and admired it, the thoughts, the imagery, the way it slightly rhymes (those are very fun), and I loved it.

It is separated into three sections: Splintered, Struggle, and Rise. ‘Splintered’ featured poems that were about heartbreak, sadness and regret. ‘Struggle’ were poems centered around life and its questions and struggles. ‘Rise’ were poems about feeling at ease and hope.

Most of the poems were easy to understand, but some had to be read a few more times. Reading some of Stumpf’s poems took a lot of thought and focus, and until now, I don’t understand all of it. However, I can’t deny that what I do understand, was written beautifully. So if you’re looking for something to read before bed, maybe try another book and save this one for when you are in the mood for something more mentally challenging.

I noted my favourites in this book, and there were quite a few. I really enjoyed Lonely in New York, Wrenching in my gut, Too Exact, The Elusive, Fulfilled, Hopeless Heap, To Live, Father, I think of you… most of these are from the third part of the book, which is definitely my favourite part. It was definitely a great ending to this emotionally charged book.

REVIEW: Fights

Today’s book is a graphic novel, maybe an emphasis on ‘graphic’ since there’s a ton of trigger warnings and it is far from a lighthearted read. Regardless, I do hope you will pick it up because it is an important read.


Fights
by Joel Christian Gill

BOOK SUMMARY

Fights is the visceral and deeply affecting memoir of artist/author Joel Christian Gill, chronicling his youth and coming of age as a Black child in a chaotic landscape of rough city streets and foreboding backwoods. 

Propelled into a world filled with uncertainty and desperation, young Joel is pushed toward using violence to solve his problems by everything and everyone around him. But fighting doesn’t always yield the best results for a confused and sensitive kid who yearns for a better, more fulfilling life than the one he was born into, as Joel learns in a series of brutal conflicts that eventually lead him to question everything he has learned about what it truly means to fight for one’s life.

BOOK REVIEW

4 STARS
A review copy was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

t/w: dead animal, death, blood, physical violence, profanity, abuse, sexual assault, racism

This is a memoir written in the form of a graphic novel about a light-skinned black man from a poor family, raised with violence all around him.

Nothing about this book is light. If you’re looking for a light, fun and easy read, this is not a book you should pick up now, but I do recommend that you save it to read in the future.

This book sheds light on how trauma affects everyone and how children, especially, absorb the behaviour of their surroundings. It is definitely a wake up call, especially when violence, bullying and abuse cases are going up everywhere in the world.

In this book, the author uses a kindling fire above the characters as a visual representation of anger, of course, but I also understood it as events that eventually add together to cause someone to burst.

From a stylistic point of view, it does a great job in censorship, especially the scenes of sexual assault since it is a graphic novel. It is handled carefully, with a pitch black scene and speech bubbles.

Although this book is a memoir, some characters were not exactly real but a combination of different people in the author’s life. Though the ending was heartbreaking for me, since I really, really appreciated the character. But it also emphasised on the importance of checking up on our friends, especially those who were always the calm, levelheaded one in most situations.

It isn’t a preachy book, but it does make you reflect, especially when you see children bullying one another and picking up abusive and harmful behaviours from their parents. It’s definitely our duty to heal from our traumas so we won’t pass it on to anyone else.

REVIEW: SOLO

When I was younger, I considered becoming a freelancer. It made sense to me, since I was studying graphic design but I knew it was going to be tough, maybe even too tough for me to handle, so I dropped the idea of it. Few years down the road, I’m now a freelance copywriter (since it comes to me more intuitively than design) and this book couldn’t have come at a better time.

The pandemic has made us realise that we are easily dispensable. I’ve heard many stories about people being fired from their jobs without any notice, many companies going bankrupt and severe pay cuts. If you’re considering freelancing, this book will help you out.


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SOLO
by Palle Schmidt

get it here

BOOK SUMMARY

If you’re planning to build a freelance career in an artistic industry, SOLO is the perfect field guide for creative entrepreneurs at every level. Whether you’re starting out, or a seasoned professional, this book will give you the tools you need to push forward on your journey to building your brand and becoming a sought-after commodity.

Drawing from his own experiences as a twenty-year professional in the comic book and commercial art industries, author Palle Schmidt guides you through the process of transitioning from amateur to creative professional with an emphasis on longevity, sustainability and happiness in whichever field you’ve chosen. Complete with real-life examples, pre-written forms and psychological business strategy, SOLO will be the book you reference throughout your career for advice and inspiration as you turn your brand into an empire.

SOLO is written for people who believe in creative living on their own terms, who want a sustainable career, mixing freelance work with creating and selling their own art. Diving into the tactics and strategies of this book will help you find a clearer vision to strike out your own path.

BOOK REVIEW

*A review copy was given in exchange for an honest review.

5 STARS

“We are our own worst enemy that way, always looking for stuff to beat ourselves up with.”

– Palle Schmidt, SOLO

As I read this book, all I could think about was how much I didn’t know about the freelancing industry. Yes sure, I know embarrassingly little, and I wouldn’t have thought about it until I read this book.

As a person working in the creatives, SOLO carries a lot of invaluable advice. Schmidt has spent more than 20 years as a freelancer, and he explains the ins and outs of the freelancing industry. I’ve heard again and again about the importance of self-discipline (although I am still lacking), budgeting and time management (once again, I am still lacking) as a freelancer. However, this book made me realize that I had no clue about the entrepreneurial side of it.

Believe me, it was eye-opening to hear that as a freelancer, you have to have a registered company (I feel so ashamed to admit that I didn’t know it), apply for tax-deductible business expenses (which is great because Adobe software isn’t cheap) and the many opportunities for networking and help within the freelancing community. I’ve never heard any of these things when others discuss freelancing!

In SOLO, he not only gives advices, but also shares his experience as a case study, provide many email templates for different situations such as for when you need to pitch your ideas or when you’re looking for a mentor. It’s a gem.

I had to read this book twice. The first time, I’ve yet to begin my freelancing career, but I did wish I took down notes. The second time around, I am taking down notes and trying to apply it wherever I can.

If you’re interested in freelancing, I highly recommend this book. I’ve also found an unabridged version of SOLO on Spotify, read by the author himself, that you can check out! It’s an overall enjoyable read that motivated me to get my life together, and I hope you will enjoy it too.