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The Moon Resides in Her Heart by Isabel Scheck

Amazon|Barnes&Noble

Arc was given by BookBuzz & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

This review is being published after the release date (November 28th 2021)

This was probably the hardest poetry collection I’ve had to rate. Honestly, my feelings with this collection was very torn. Not just with the contents of the book, but how I wanted to rate this and whether or not I actually enjoyed my time reading this poetry collection. Ultimately, I decided that this collection wasn’t for me. I really wanted to love this and maybe the reason why I didn’t connect with this was due to setting my expectations too high. But I digress.

The Moon Resides in Her Heart is a sapphic poetry collection about crushes and unrequited love. What it means to love someone so much, but to become heart broken because they don’t see you that way. These haikus are very short, three lines per page. With that being said, this makes for a very fast read. Also, there’s matching imagery to represent the haikus.

I will say, some of these haikus are very relatable. Whether you’ve dealt with an unrequited love or perhaps you loved someone so much that you thought entire universes lived within them. It’s very easy to feel connected to them and enjoy the underlying message of these haikus.

“Stars in her ribcage. Moon residing in her heart. Galaxies love her.”

However, despite the haikus being relatable and descriptive enough to enjoy them, there were two major flaws that prevented me from truly being able to enjoy this book the way I hoped. My biggest issue was repetitiveness. This is something that I can usually overlook at times, but the theme was very repetitive on multiple pages which made it incredibly hard to overlook. It didn’t help that this book is so short. Which leads me into the second issue with this book, the length. Fifty-six pages long with repetitive haikus, and themes. It was really difficult to enjoy this book with these two elements. I think if this book had been longer, add another fifty or so pages and I think the repetitiveness would have been easier to overlook or even be more forgivable.

Overall, this just wasn’t the kind of poetry collection I was looking for. It’s definitely relatable and I truly believe there will be others who may find joy in this collection. Sadly, the repetitiveness and the short length of this book made it very hard to enjoy. However, I still recommend this book. Even though it wasn’t for me, I truly believe someone else may enjoy it more than I did.

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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Starry Night, Blurry Dreams by Henn Kim

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Arc was given by Andrews McMeel Publishing & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

This review is being published before the release date (March 15th 2022)

“Who are you when you’re alone.”

Friends, I’m not going to lie to you… This cover and title got to me. Don’t ask me how, don’t ask me why, but yeah, I got really emotional when I stumbled across this arc on NetGalley. I’ve said it a few times before, but I’ll say it again, I truly believe, with my whole dang chest, that pieces of literature come into our lives when we need it the most. And for whatever reason, somewhere in the catacombs of my mind, a piece of me was screaming that I needed to read this book. As fate would have it, the NetGalley gods smiled down upon me and blessed me with this arc. And wouldn’t you know, I consumed the contents of this book immediately.

Starry Night, Blurry Dreams is a collection of poems playing with words and their representation with imagery. The poems are short, incredibly short. Sometimes the lines are about one to two lines and may only have a couples words to them. Which is why it was so easy to read through it. This book truly is a quick read and perfect for light reading during your morning routine or when you’re trying to unwind at night.

If I had to describe this collection with one word, that word would be ‘human.’ Henn Kim’s writing pulls from dreams, love, heartbreak and sadness, and just life in general, as a whole. Despite the simplicity of this collection, it was very easy to feel a connection or have certain poems or imagery resonate with with oneself. And I think that’s what I love most about this book. Even though it’s a fast read, it was so easy to feel seen or feel the tickling of something familiar about it all. Whether it was through the poems itself or the illustrations throughout this book.

And speaking on the illustrations, they’re stunning. There’s so much details and sometimes I found myself staring at them, wondering if they’d reveal any hidden easter eggs within them. Each images could be seen as individual pieces of art, hanging in a museum on display for the world to see, with their own story to tell. Yes, I think that’s probably the best way I can describe it. Like an art gallery and you can’t help being overcome with ‘awe.’ And I think any first time readers of this collection will fall in love with the artwork throughout this book. Truly, they fit so beautifully and honestly, I don’t think I can picture this book without these illustration in it.

“A heavy heart is hard to carry.”

If I had to point out one thing that impacted me and my reading of this book, I’d have to say repetition. There’s a definite cycle within the pages of this collection and at times poems seem to repeat or feel very similar to one another. It may be the repetition of themes or maybe an emotion, but I think for many readers, myself included, that feeling of repetition is going to be a struggle.

Overall, I enjoyed this poetry collection very much. As I mentioned before, I truly believe pieces of literature come into our life when we need it the most and I definitely needed this book. And I think there will be many readers who will fall in love with this collection, whether it be for the poetry or the illustrations. Truly, it flows so nicely, like a calm river. And if you’re in search of a quick read then I definitely think this is one book to put on your to be read pile.

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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While the Earth Sleeps We Travel: Stories, Poetry, and Art from Refugee Youth Around the World by Ahmed M. Badr

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ARC was provided by NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (October 13th, 2020)

Content/Trigger Warnings: War themes, bombings, refugee crisis, poverty, homelessness, mentions of gang violence, talk of racism, Islamophobia, mentions of terminal illness (cancer), death, murder, mentions of homophobia, mentions of drug abuse and drug addiction, grief, loss of a loved one, trauma, mentions of terrorism

“Together, we are speaking up and proclaiming to the world that our existence is worthy of its attention.”

Friends, I truly cannot express how important this collection is. I truly believe with my whole heart that this collection is a gift that should be talked about so much more. It’s rare when we hear the voices of people who have been severely impacted because of war, violence, and other hardships, but even rarer when they’re children. I think I spent my entire reading experience crying. This book truly is a gift and I hope many readers decide to pick this book up.

While the Earth Sleeps We Travel is a collection of poetry, stories, and art by refugees who have been displaced for various reasons, but the most common is war and violence. In this book these people come together to share their hardships, their experiences, hopes, and dreams. From those who are just children to an elderly artist determined to teach their artwork to those who’ll listen, we’ll hear the voices of refugees from a plethora of places. All beautifully expressed on page to be shared with the world.

“We have to find out what people like and need and use that to help them towards a better future.”

Truly, this book is a gift. It’s heartbreaking, humbling, and encouraging. As I mentioned, I spent the entirety of this book crying because it was so moving. I’ve listed some of the pieces that really stood out and touched the softest part of my heart.

⛰️ Erwin’s Story
⛰️ Lina Habazi’s Story
⛰️ Karem Potela’s Story
⛰️ O’s Story
⛰️ Meteorite Yasan’s Story

I truly hope everyone picks this book up and take the time to listen to the voices on the pages in this book. I think this book is going to unravel many people, cause the readers to pause and really take a look at their privilege. I don’t think everyone will appreciate this book, but I think everyone needs to read this book at least once in their life.

Overall, this was just a really touching book. I can’t encourage you enough to take the time to pick this book up and hear the voices of these people. Their experiences, their souls have been laid bare for all to read and experience in this book. This is such an important collection and I hope it gets the spotlight that it truly deserves.

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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Pillow Thoughts (Pillow Thoughts #1) by Courtney Peppernell

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of self-harm and suicide

“Life is unpredictable, and I’d rather play every card as honestly as I can than have a deck full of regrets and what-ifs.”

Friends, I say this all the time especially when it comes to poetry (and even more so when it comes to pets). I truly believe all of these things come into our lives when we need them the most or in certain times of our life where we didn’t know we needed them. Would I read this poetry collection a year ago? Three years? Five? Probably not. However, this poetry coming into my life right now while the world is on fire and I’m home, missing my family more than ever… Yes, this poetry collection hit home with really hard blows.

“May your weapon be kindness. Your shield compassion. May flowers grow again , to sprout love from all this sadness.”

I’ll be honest, I don’t think many readers will enjoy this poetry collection. It’s classified as modern day poetry, but I think many readers (myself included) will feel at times, this book feels more like a motivational book or book of inspiration. I also want to say that this book is divided into sections and I love when a poetry collection divides itself into sections.

And can I take a moment to talk about the illustrations? Not going to lie, those jellyfish illustrations were not only beautiful, but also really calming and soothing. I read this poetry collection after some really terrible things happened and the amount of stress, anxiety, and panic I had eased a bit while reading this book and a lot of that is contributed to the fact of the illustrations. Jellyfish exhibits are some of my favorite sections go to at an aquarium and just some of my favorite videos to watch. So I really loved how the jellyfish were included.

“You stole so much of me, more than I had ever planned. But it is a new day and I feel like coming home. Back to all the parts of me I’d forgotten, the part that I don’t feel so alone.”

Overall, I really connected with a lot of this poetry collection and it came into my life at a moment where I was feeling very broken, very twisted up inside, and shrinking into myself. Since reading this poetry collection, things don’t feel as terrible and I’m slowly finding my way back to myself. As I have said, I never would have read this a few years ago, but it came into my life when I needed a little beacon of light to help guide me back to feeling semi-okay and that makes all the difference.

“You’re still here, you know; under all the messy things, under the stress, the anxiety, the sadness, you’re still you.”

Special thank you to the anonymous gifter who sent me this book!

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An American Sunrise: Poems by Joy Harjo

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, loss of a loved one, grief, colonization and oppression, transgenerational and intergenerational trauma

Friends and fellow readers, what an incredible read. This was such an impactful reading experience. How often do you hear someone talk about the various Trail of Tears and the way Native Americans have been impacted throughout history? Not very often. While this book is ownvoices for the Mvskoke representation (the author is Mvskoke), I can’t speak for this experience. I’m not Mvskoke, I’m Apache and so please take my opinions with a grain of salt. But I truly loved this book and I think many readers who want to diversify their reading and hear one voice about one of the many Trail of Tears, this is a great book to start with.

“The heart is a fist. It pockets prayer or holds rage.”

This book is a collection of poems and history woven together about the early 1800s when the Mvskoke people were forcibly removed from their homes, their original land, just east of the Mississippi, to the Indian Territory which is now part of Oklahoma. Harjo ends up returning to her homelands and discusses an abundance of emotions, about her family, and history.

When I say this book took a piece of me, I mean it truly chipped a piece of my soul and kept it for itself. The swirl of emotions and feelings I felt while reading this were enough to sink a whole ship. There is so much hardship, grief, a large sense of loss and heartbreak, but there’s also love and hope laced throughout this book. This was the first work by Harjo that I have read and after reading this, I just want to pick up even more of her work.

Some of my favorite pieces from this book are the following:

🌄 Once I looked at the moon

🌄 Rising and Falling

🌄 Falling from the Night Sky

🌄 Rabbit Invents the Saxophone

🌄 Let There Be No Regrets

🌄 Tobacco Origin Story

🌄 Beyond

“I was taught to give honor to the house of warriors. Which cannot exist without the house of the peacemakers.”

Overall, I enjoyed this and as I mentioned, if you’re looking for books by Native American authors talking about The Trail of Tears, this is a great book to start with. The author weaves such an important picture for those who have never done any independent research of The Trail of Tears or looked for those talking about their family’s history with The Trail of Tears. The Trail of Tears is one of the most important pieces of colonization of the United States and I can’t express enough how important it is to listen to First Nation voices of their experiences.

Special thank you to Donna from Momsbookcollection for gifting this book!

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ARC Reviews

Break Your Glass Slippers (You Are Your Own Fairy Tale #1) by Amanda Lovelace

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ARC was given by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published on the release date (March 17th, 2020)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Child abuse, toxic relationships, toxic friendships, sexual harassment, eating disorders, body shaming, fat phobia, suicide, trauma, and more.

“You are limitless. You can have the lipstick. You can have the sword.”

It wasn’t that long ago that I finished To Drink Coffee with A Ghost and when I heard Amanda Lovelace had a new poetry book coming out, it felt like my heart almost stopped. I love Lovelace’s work with my whole heart and soul. Her poetry has a way to see into the deepest layers of my heart and say, “You’re not alone. I see you.” Needless to say, I all but fell in love with this book like I have past works by her’s.

In this poetry collection, the main focus in body positivity and addressing the way we can see ourselves when we don’t fit the mold society or relationships want for us. There’s also a lot of reaffirmation of loving oneself regardless of what others think. Each negative moment highlighted in this book, was countered acted with poems of love, kindness, and caring. This collection is truly a love letter to all those who feel like they are unworthy because of the way they have been treated by toxic influences in their life.

“You don’t need to look a certain way to deserve someone’s heart.

No matter your shape-

No matter your size-

Be proud of all the space your body dares to take up.”

On top of the way the author counteracts the negative poems with love poems, she also structured this poem collection in a clever and that will allow the reader to really appreciate it. Each poem of positive advice or love is from the fairy godmother perspective. She has the fairy godmother set up as an inner voice as a way to remind the reader to love oneself, to cherish the people who love and appreciate you, and really added that element of a loving parent who is trying to guide their child. It was really creative and it was one of the most captivating pieces of this collection.

I also have to say how beautiful the art was in this book, as well! There are these breaks in the book of a night sky with a moon and they are absolutely stunning. Every drawing in this book is beautiful, but I truly loved that the author included these night sky pieces. They are very dreamy and really set the mood for the book. Plus, it’s something to help ease the emotions you may feel while reading this book.

My only issue from this collection was wanting just a little more pull on the emotional side. In past works, the author has a way of really pulling the emotions out of the reader. However, this collection didn’t pull as much of an emotional reaction as I thought it would have. It still stirred a lot of feelings, a lot of memories, and a lot of thoughts with my reading experience, but when it comes to this author, I always anticipate tears and sniffles. Regardless, I still enjoyed my time reading each poem even if there weren’t any tears this time around.

Overall, I love Lovelace’s work. I say it all the time, but she is one of the the few authors who can tear down all my walls and show my scars for the world to see. I think I will always have a soft spot for Lovelace’s work and if someone were to ask me why I enjoy her work so much, I think I would say, “Her work means everything to me.” I can’t wait to pick up a physical copy of this book and add it to my personal poetry collection. And if you’re someone who needs a love letter of body positivity and self-love, then you definitely need to pick up a copy of this book yourself! I truly do recommend this book with my heart, my soul, and my everything because you can really tell that Lovelace understands the reader and what they have endured.

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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To Drink Coffee with a Ghost (Things that Haunt, #2) by Amanda Lovelace

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Child abuse, eating disorders, sexual assault, self-harm, violence, cheating, death, trauma, grief, child neglect, emotional/verbal abuse, body shaming, talk of depression, manipulation, forced hospitalization, and much more!

“one minute you were here; the next, you had already gone. now i’m terrified to leave a room without saying goodbye to everyone inside of it first. – what if they disappear like you did?”

To Drink Coffee with a Ghost is the second and final book in the Things that H(a)unt duology. To Make Monsters Out of Girls explored the memory of toxic relationships, eating disorders, and wanting nothing more than to disappear into the thin cracks of the floor. Now in the second book we explore the memory of a toxic relationship between mother and daughter, body shaming, and the haunting shadows of the dead walking behind us.

Friends, I’m all soft, sappy, and emotional… I say it all the time, but let me say again how much Lovelace’s works are true master pieces. How much I love them and adore these pieces of works. Her writing has a navigation system to the soft parts of my heart and soul , she knows how to shatter me into a million pieces, but pulls me back together again. Her work makes me feel seen and she will forever be an author that has a place in my heart.

To say I have been anticipating To Drink Coffee with a Ghost would be an understatement. I knew the minute I heard she was coming out with the final book in this duology that I had to have it and words can’t express how grateful I was and still am that my past self pre-ordered this book.

I love this book with my whole heart. Amanda has an amazing talent for making readers feel like they’re not alone with their thoughts and they’re feelings when bad things happen to them in life. Even though this book will cause your heart to ache and feel like pieces of you are shattering, there’s comfort in the underlining of her words. That she understands, saying ‘you’re not alone, I’ve been there too.’

This collection is broken down into three parts; ghost-mother, ghost-daughter, and sun-showers. This will be the part where I do a bit of a breakdown. Don’t worry, I try to keep this a spoiler free zone. Besides, emotional reads a better when you go in blind anyway!

🌻 Ghost-MotherAbout the toxic relationship one can have with their parent, the lack of acceptance or not being good enough, and the emotional and mental abuse a child can endure.

🌻 Ghost-DaughterAbout the death of a parent and living life without them, the heaviness of grief, and slowly becoming your own person without them.

🌻 Sun-ShowersAbout letting go, finding your family and home, sisterhood, loving yourself and choosing to be free.

Now the way this book addresses grief and what is truly means to lose someone, someone close to you, someone who molded you into the person you are now… Lovelace hits the nail right on the head. While my mother is still very much alive, I have lost many, many people in my years of life to all sorts of causes. And the way Amanda brings to life just how heavy grief and losing someone is so painfully accurate and she talks about the heaviness of it all. She even writes how it feels like she’s walking with the ghost of her loved one weighing her down, impacting her life, and how it all feels like quick sand. Words can’t express how much my heart ached, but how much I loved every second.

“for the first time, i will allow myself to believe that the best can & will happen to me, instead of the worst. – life doesn’t have to be a horror show”

If there’s one thing I love the most about Amanda’s writing is that it never fails to bring some form of hope or sense of peace. Both books in this duology start out heavy, laced with hard, raw emotions and feelings, but slowly they move towards brighter things. Like how we can create and choose our own family, that grief doesn’t have to keep us chained to the darkness, and most importantly, love will always find you in the end. I think that’s why I love the third portion of this book so much. It reminds me so much of finding my own happy place among someone who means the world to me. Plus, the mention of finding a sisterhood was such a breath of fresh air. It’s not often that sisterhood gets put in a positive light especially in the process of healing. Plus, there was a gorgeous illustration to match that sisterhood. This section was truly beautiful, sorrowful, but nonetheless beautiful in every way.

Overall, I truly love Amanda Lovelace and her work. I don’t often mention it, but Amanda has a way of bringing pieces of my life to reality and it touches some of the softest parts of my soul. For me, Lovelace in a favorite author and I can’t recommend picking up her poetry collections enough. Even more so if you find that you’re in need of a mirror, if you feel you’re alone in your thoughts and feelings then her books are the ones to pick up. But please remember to be in the right head space when you read this book. Even the soundest of minds can take some big mental and emotional hits. So please remember self-care and to make sure you’re in the right head space for reading this book. And of course, I think the best way to go into this book is to go in blind (which is why I barely went into detail). Emotional books are best read when one knows barely about it. It’s just the best way, in my opinion, a better reading experience.

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Dragonhearts by Nikita Gill, Amanda Lovelace, and Trista Mateer

OUT OF PRINT
Amazon

Content/Trigger Warnings: Partner violence, domestic abuse, child abuse, emotional abuse, stalking, queerphobia, sexism, mental health issues, body image issues, bullying, trauma/PTSD, death, violence, gore, self-harm

“There is a spell for almost anything and if there’s not a spell, there is at least a poem.”

The top three best selling poets; Trista Mateer, Nikita Gill, and Amanda Lovelace come together in this empowering poetry collection, Dragonhearts. The authors use fairy tales & myths to create something that is both timeless & extremely relevant to present-day issues, such as the #MeToo movement, reclaiming your voice, & the shared power of self-love & solidarity. This book is a reminder that romantic love does not need to be the main plot of your story, sometimes friendship is.

This has Amanda Lovelace so of course I was going to pick this up! However, trying to find a copy was incredibly difficult and I definitely think they need to do a reprint just for the fact that it is a very sought after poetry collection. If, you manage to snag one of these, never let it go because the words written within these pages…they will do something to you.

I say this all the time, but I love when a poetry collection shatters me in the best possible way or makes me feel things that I thought have been asleep for years. There are incredible pieces from this poetry collection that have broken me, pieced me back together, and broke me all over again. It’s the best kind of heartbreak to feel because it means you feel what the author or in this case, authors are sharing on a deep and emotional level. It made giant waves in my heart and I think the best way for any reader to take this book on is to go in blind and know that there are heavy topics that will make you emotional or be triggers.

I’ll be honest, I never read anything by Trista Mateer and the only work I’ve read of Nikita Gill’s was Fierce Fairytales: Poems and Stories to Stir Your Soul, and that wasn’t the best of experiences. However, I am very familiar with Amanda Lovelace’s work. Her poetry collection To Make Monsters Out of Girls completely wrecked me and since then I have loved her work. Seeing the three of these authors come together in this poetry collection, they really balance each other out, personality wise. This has made me reconsider Gill’s work and has encouraged me to pick up more of her work (to test the waters, if you will) and it put Trista Mateer on my radar for more poetry collections to read, experience, and enjoy. We really get to see the uniqueness and individuality of each author and how well they bounce off of one another, and I kind of loved that!

My only issue with this poetry collection was the lack of organization, themes, and direction. We don’t get a sense of what’s happening and poems that are themed and bounce well with one another aren’t always paired together. To give a better understanding, think of a giant maze and you’re running around with no map or any idea of where you’re supposed to go, that basically sums up how this poetry collection is organized. There are quoted images in the book, but if the purpose of them were to be “chapters” or “separators” then they should have come at the beginning o each section and not the end.

“I will not give up the flowers in my heart for stones just because the world is a hard place. The world is only hard because it needs more flower-hearted people.”

Overall, I don’t want to say too much about this poetry collection because a lot of poetry collections are best left with the reader going in blind. As always though, please pay attention to the content/trigger warnings and make sure you are practicing self-care. I personally seek out books that make me emotional and push that border of triggering, but that doesn’t mean that it’s for everyone. And I highly recommend being in the right head space when reading this collection. On another note, I was very pleasantly surprised by this collection and how it left me feeling. Also, the guest poets were absolutely precious and wish we had a little more from both of those guest poets! Just a wonderful experience all around!

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Fierce Fairytales: Poems and Stories to Stir Your Soul by Nikita Gill

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Abuse, toxic obsession, trauma, alcoholism, talk of emotional and mental abuse, PTSD, war/war violence, talk of murder, death, loss of a loved one, depression, abandonment, implied cheating, and many more.

“Take this as your reminder. Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear darkness, some wear wounds.” 

Rousing new prose and poetry collection, Nikita Gill gives Once Upon a Time a much-needed modern makeover. Through her gorgeous reimagining of fairytale classics and spellbinding original tales, she dismantles the old-fashioned tropes that have been ingrained in our minds. In this book, gone are the docile women and male saviors. Instead, lines blur between heroes and villains. You will meet fearless princesses, a new kind of wolf lurking in the concrete jungle, and an independent Gretel who can bring down monsters on her own. Complete with beautifully hand-drawn illustrations by Gill herself.

My Thoughts

I say this all the time, but I’m going to say it again…I absolutely LOVE a poetry collection that shatters my soul and causes my eyes to turn into waterfalls. Always remember that an author pours a bit of themselves into their poetry collections so going in with an open mind is the best that you can do. However, as much as I wanted to love this poetry collection, there were parts that started to wear a little thin with my enjoyment of this book.

So starting with the good, I loved that Gill had so many retellings in this poetry collection. I love a good retelling and the fact that we get heroes and villains was a huge bonus. I really enjoyed the villains the most, of the two. We don’t often get to see the villain side of things, having so many villain retellings was enjoyable for me. I wish more authors did more retellings of villains and I think Gill did a wonderful job of breaking down some of the well recognized villains.

I also really enjoyed the fact that there is a wide variety of serious topics addressed in this poetry collection. Gill writes so intensely and allows the reader to visually picture topics and stir emotions within us. I may have shed a couple of tears myself. A lot of these topics were fairly accurate in representation (I’m just going off my own experience so hold those pitch forks) and for myself it caused me to do a lot of reflecting on my past and journey, on others I have talked with, and even reflect on those who have come and gone. All these topics were nicely represented and I almost wished we got just a little to provoke deep conversation among ourselves. And of course, I always stress this when there’s heavy topics being addressed, but please remember to practice self-care. These aren’t easy topics to talk about, read about, or even try to push yourself through. So make sure you do take care of yourself, practice self-care before and during reading this, I love you! ❤️

“I hope you summon your courage and you invite your demons to tea, and you learn to listen to all their stories.” 

Even though there were plenty of parts that I liked, things did get a little problematic for me. As I mentioned, there’s a lot of hard topics represented, but there comes a point in this book where that stops and things become repetitive. Now, repetitiveness isn’t always a bad thing, but for me personally it wasn’t just the repetitiveness that started to bother me, but there were large bits of hatred of men scattered throughout. For me as a reader, I’m not here to read a book that tries to push the concept of hatred towards others and I’m also not here for content that constantly wants to push the concept of men always being the villain, the bad guy, or painting this picture of them being monsters. As a reader, I’m not here for that type of content. I don’t want to read any book that feels like it’s trying to be subtle about hatred and beat in hatred towards others, no matter the gender. I’m not here for it, I don’t want to read it, and once that point got reached in this book, I was cringing the entire time and wanted to throw this book out the nearest window.

I want to state this… There’s never a truly supreme gender that is better than the other. Each gender has it’s flaws and if you exclude gender, everyone is morally grey. There is no truly/purely good person in this world, but we all do good things and bad things, no matter what. With this poetry collection, there are times where it comes off as painting women as angels or as the better gender and men as these terrible monsters or as the “bad gender”, and that the only good kind of man is in touch with his feelings or “sensitive” side. Let me be the first to call out this crap and say women are not better than men and men are not better than women. We all balance each other out. We are all good and bad and it’s high time we start realizing that there’s bad and good in people, no matter the gender, the race, sexual orientation, etc…

If you couldn’t tell, I reached multiple points where I was asking myself if I wanted to continue reading this collection (to answer that, yes, I did finish this poetry collection) and I had to really analyze how I was feeling about the book. To elaborate, there were times where it almost felt like I was reading a self-help book or Gill’s personal diary. There are parts where you can feel her emotions so strongly that it feels like a ton of bricks just landed on you. There were times where the anger and hate were so strong that I was cringing and asking the book “who in the world hurt you so badly that you have all this pent up anger?!” I’m all about pouring a little emotions into your work, but coming off too strong or putting too much of those emotions in can be overwhelming, suffocating, and at times, it can turn a reader off, but for me this wasn’t my cup of tea.

“Trauma when left untreated has the capacity to make a villain out of you.” 

Overall, there were some wonderful parts of this poetry collection that I absolutely loved and of course, I’m always here for villain retellings. The hard topics are a bonus too! However, the repetitiveness was okay, but it was the constant hatred of men that truly turned me off. Even more so with the repetitiveness tying in with the man hate. Since reading this and taking the time to really think on my thoughts and whether I truly enjoyed this collection, my rating has since changed. I was originally going to rate this poetry collection a three stars, but the amount of hatred and distaste for men is so strong that it left a bad impression with me and actually triggered some of my anxiety. Since all this has happened, I have decided on a solid two stars. And normally, I recommend the dickens out of poetry collections even if I didn’t personally like them, but I can’t recommend this poetry collection on a good conscious knowing how much hatred is woven throughout this book. I never want to be a person who becomes a beacon for spreading hate and anger. So if you’re not someone who likes large quantities of hatred and misandry or even someone who doesn’t want to read about those two things, then I don’t recommend this poetry collection.

“We have all taken turns being Red Riding Hood and we have all been the wolf.”

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I Love My Love: A Journey Toward Self by Reyna Biddy

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Abandonment, domestic violence, toxic relationships, body image issues, cheating, depression, abuse, emotional/mental abuse, talk of suicide, emotional/mental abuse, and many more hard topics.

“I’m ready to be more like me. I’m ready to be more alive.”

Whenever I read poetry, I always go in with an open mind and I’m always conscious that a part of the author goes into ever corner of their poetry collection. A part of me always feels guilty for putting a review on anything like a poetry collection, a memoir, etc… because who am I to judge someone else’s life, experiences, or their journey. However, I am very appreciative that the author has the courage to put their journey and work out there and I’m grateful I could read this poetry collection.

Reyna Biddy is a 22-year-old spoken word artist known for her positive affirmations and self-love guides she hides within her poetry. Reyna is also well known on Tumblr and Twitter, where she also shares some of her healing words. This LA native has given credit in the past to her childhood as her source of inspiration, and this inspiration has spread like wildfire. “I’m sorry you missed the God in me”, this one quote of Reyna’s can be seen in bios all across Twitter.

Not only does Reyna have her spoken word available on to stream on Soundcloud, but she also has books available to purchase. Her first project  “I Love My Love”, features a collection of her poetry that tells the story of how she learned to love. This collection is extremely personal and inspirational, she gained thousands of fans after it’s release in early 2017. Her second collection is titled “A Psalm for Us”, since then has been released as of February 2018. Her highly anticipated collection will explore and question faith and self-affirmation.

“before we fall in love—let’s heal each other.”

Reading poetry collection after poetry collection, it’s easy to find likes and dislikes. One thing that I’ve noticed with I Love My Love is it talks about deeper issues, with a seductive but powerful anger that all but sparks from the pages. It’s not coming from a passive voice who is just telling a story, this comes from a voice that demands to be heard with such intensity that you have to listen to it.

My Thoughts

I love poetry and I always love poetry that can spark some form emotion from me. The type of poetry I come to love is the type that can rattle the bones in my body and make waterfalls out of my eyes. While there were a few pieces that shook me, I struggled with this poetry collection so much. For me, the biggest thing I noticed was the voice that would radiate from various pages. There would be parts where you could feel Biddy’s Latina side come out, there would also be bits of freestyle slam poetry thrown in randomly throughout this collection. While I love both of these styles of poetry, when there’s already a set tone of voice and then you throw other random tones of voice into the mix, it can be very jarring and my interest would slip in and out because things would start to become muddled.

While I dislike comparing authors to one another, for this bit of an example I’m going to make some references to the work of Lovelace. Mays does what Lovelace does in her book, which basically means no traditional capitalization and lots of line breaks to separate what would otherwise be ordinary sentences. Some of Mays’s poems do rhyme, and they rhyme in a way that made me wonder if they might actually sound better being read aloud, like how I mentioned above with the freestyle poetry, instead of being read on the page. Because the way I was reading them in my head, the meter was not consistent and many of the rhymes felt forced. A lot of her “poems” are also paragraphs, and it’s hard to read them because of the lack of capitalization. While some have criticized Lovelace for the amount of white space in her poems, but it does make them easier to read her books. With the way Biddy has styled each page, this was more of a strain, and not really worth reading. I also took issue with the fact that her ellipses only had two periods instead of three. This stylistic choice looks like a typo, and I kept stumbling over it because it looked like an error, even though it wasn’t. It was very hard to read and I think there will be a few readers who will struggle with the way this is all typed out.

One thing I really want to point out (and I’ve only mentioned this once in one other review) is a lot of swearing and use of curse words. If you’re not a fan of swear words or curse words used often, then this might not be the poetry collection. For myself, it didn’t bother me too much, but I know that there will be some readers who will have issues with that being woven into this collection.

I really loved that this book addressed a lot of important topics. And the parts that really hit me, they really reminded me of my childhood and growing up. They were like claws pulling on my heart strings. A lot of these issues aren’t always talked about that often and I really appreciate that Biddy addressed them.

“trying to love someone into loving you- is destroying you”

Overall, I feel really bad about giving this poetry collection such a low review, especially with all the important topics that get mentioned, and a lot of the lines have a lot of potential. As I said before, I always try to go in with an opened mind and not be to harsh on judging poetry collections. This was someone trying to share their story, trying to resonate with their supporters and readers. I’m sure this poetry collection will -with others- not with me. I just wasn’t very connected to this poetry collection and it didn’t connect with me. However, don’t let my reading experience discourage you from giving this poetry collection a try. There are many moving parts of this collection with very important topics. And I truly believe that this collection will touch many poetry lovers.

“make homes out of something you can keep close forever – not some “one” who’s temporary”

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