Tag Archives: poetry collection

Wounded Hearts Take A Chance by Debbie Quigley Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

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A woman must open her broken heart up to the possibility of love once more in author Debbie Quigley’s “Wounded Hearts Take a Chance”. 


The Synopsis

“It all started one fine summer’s day when a first-glance attraction walked into her yard . . .”

This little book takes you along the poetic, romantic path of a woman opening her broken heart to the possibility of loving again.

To do so, she must tear down the protective walls of aloneness she has built around herself, walls of safety thrown up in the wake of infidelity and betrayal.

Letting a man into her heart again, daring to trust and to feel love and passion once more, opening herself to the risk of suffering more pain, is a big leap . . . but it’s one worth taking, and one she’ll never regret.

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The Review

This was a quick yet profound collection of poetry. The author and poet do a spectacular job of crafting a collection that speaks volumes emotionally and lovingly in just a short compact read. The imagery and sparks that each poem brings to life echo the heartfelt emotions that the author hoped to relay to readers and inspire them. 

To me, what made this book really just sing was the balance of emotional depth and storytelling that each poem seemed to deliver. The author wrote this book to feel very much like a short film, capturing the fear, thrill, and hope that new love often stirs up inside us all. Yet on the other hand, the powerful message of overcoming heartbreak to accept love into one’s heart again came through as well and allowed the reader to truly connect to the author’s emotional journey which was both relatable and engaging.

The Verdict

Memorable, honest, and heartfelt, author Debbie Quigley’s “Wounded Hearts Take a Chance” is a must-read short collection of poetry. The depth and quality of each poem were equally balanced with the story and emotional journey that the poems collectively formed to keep the reader invested in this quick yet powerful read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Debbie Quigley, born in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, is also the author of the poetry collection Wind Whispers. A retired healthcare worker, she lives in a small hamlet surrounded by nature and wildlife. She loves to garden. Debbie’s “whisper-art” poetry is simple and real, telling a story. She has contributed to Spiritual Writers Network publications, and her poetry can also be found on Author’s Den.


Our Wolves by Luanne Castle Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

The classic tale of Little Red Riding Hood gets a new take when poetry and perspective shine a light on Red and those she interacted with on that fateful night in author and poet Luanne Castle’s “Our Wolves”.


The Synopsis

In Our Wolves, poet Luanne Castle navigates the timeless story of “Little Red Riding Hood” in a compelling collection of sharp, memorable poetry. Familiar tales are ageless for a reason. Their magic is that they can easily be transformed to explore subjects of abuse, danger, sexuality, self-sufficiency, and interpersonal relationships in a way that makes these challenging topics palatable to readers. Trying to find the reasoning behind Red’s traumatic adventure, as well as using it to comment on contemporary events, Castle creates taut narratives and sympathetic monologues to show how the story shapeshifts with the teller. Here, we hear from the wolf, the huntsman/woodcutter, Grandmother, townspeople, and Red herself. Not just a victimized or innocent child, Castle’s Red also appears in wiser (and sometimes older) incarnations that are knowing, rebellious, resilient, and clever. This technique subverts stereotypical conventions and shows that Red’s story “is not so very different from yours / and yours and yours and yours and yours.” Filled with atmospheric power, dynamic portrayals, and bright imagery, Our Wolves will haunt you long after you’ve returned from its woods.

Christine Butterworth-McDermott, author of The Spellbook of Fruit & Flowers

In this recasting of the Little Red Riding Hood tale, Luanne Castle’s wolves are not the wolves skulking in our imaginations. Her poems challenge our senses, bounce from view to view, shifting their focal points. Grandmothers and red-coat-wearing girls may or may not bear guilt. Indeed, Granny may be the Wolf. Or the Wolf may be a father, pulling down panties to slap bare skin. The story is told “to search / for who, not why. It’s all about blame.” Which is, of course, only one truth lurking within this fable. The poems in Our Wolves burrow under your skin and into your flesh. They don’t let go, no matter how you scratch; they’re unsettling, magical. Relentless. Unforgettable.

Robert Okaji, author of Buddha’s Not Talking

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“Perhaps you were wrong.” In these imaginative and evocative poems, expectations are subverted, and flat, centuries-old characters are brought to life in both amusing and startling ways. Castle tells the old story of Red Riding Hood from new angles and perspectives, creating a multitude of responses from the reader, eliciting from us everything from moments of cringing to laughter. Most interestingly, Castle subverts the predictable and achieves complexity by using an unlikely combination of forms and mixed modes–from the more traditional lineated lyric and narrative poems to the unexpected Haibun and Abecedarian, using every technique available to create this lively and memorable book. These poems invite us to confront what we take for granted and then let loose our own inner wolf to bite in and savor them all–one well-crafted word at a time.

Kimberly K. Williams, author of Sometimes a Woman and Still Lives

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The Review

This was a memorable and heartfelt collection of poems. The author does an incredible job of finding the right balance of storytelling through the poems themselves to tell this reimagining of such an iconic fairytale and highlighted the rich themes found within the poems with powerful imagery and insightful tones that kept the reader grounded in the magical reality they were weaving together. 

The heart of the author’s work rested in the moving themes the poems played with and the folklore that the author drew upon to weave this tale. The poems hit upon things like identity, staying true to oneself, honesty, and overcoming our fears in life, and the way the author was able to write these poems in a way in which the audience was able to see themselves in one form or another through these varied perspectives was memorable, to say the least. The way in which the reader is treated to the perspective of the Wolf, Grandma, and of course Red herself allowed for readers to connect more with the major players of this tale and the struggles each and every one of them held onto until the bitter end. 

The Verdict

Heartfelt, memorable, and captivating, author Luanne Castle’s “Our Wolves” is a masterful and engaging poem collection. The imagery and atmosphere that each pome conjures up and the rich dynamics each perspective brings to the narrative of Red Riding Hood made this a truly thoughtful and relatable collection that readers won’t soon forget. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Luanne Castle lives in Arizona, next to a wash that wildlife use as a thoroughfare. She has published two full-length poetry collections, Rooted and Winged (Finishing Line Press 2022) and Doll God (Aldrich/Kelsay 2015), which won the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award for Poetry. Kin Types (Finishing Line Press 2017), a chapbook of poetry and flash nonfiction, was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award. Our Wolves (Alien Buddha Press 2023) is her second chapbook. Luanne’s Pushcart and Best of the Net-nominated poetry and prose have appeared in Copper Nickel, American Journal of Poetry, Pleiades, River Teeth, TAB, Verse Daily, Saranac Review, and other journals.

Luanne blogs at Writer Site and The Family Kalamazoo.


“I’m a poet and don’t even know it!” At some point, you’ve probably said something in an unintentional rhyme. Poetry? Sure, maybe those two seemingly silly sentences you shared with your spouse or with a parent were a little poetic:

Every year an ornament cracks

And there’s the cat – his smile is back!

The main obstacle with those considering writing poetry or getting into reading it, is that they assume it has to be serious, Shakespearean, and therefore, a little irrelevant and bland. But poetry can be found everywhere and in everything. 

During one school visit, I asked the students to consider an ordinary object right there in the classroom to write their poem about. After several minutes passed, a flummoxed child asked, “Miss Raven, all the ‘good’ regular items are already being written about. How can I write a verse about a staple remover?”


I asked her what those metal clamps reminded her of. Oh! Metal teeth! Suddenly she saw the staple remover as a metal-mouthed gnasher with only one goal: gnawing and twisting those tin soldier staples from a paper battlefield. How’s that for finding a little poetry in something ordinary?

Tell me, what happened today? Were you frustrated that the wind blew away your scarf or hat? Think there’s no poetry in that? Try a haiku to get yourself going. The pattern is simple (traditional haiku: 3 lines, 5/7/5 syllables per line).

Wind stole my red scarf

Old man winter craves color

Scarlet for snow’s white.

This is just a quick idea off the top of my head, but the point is, attempt to add a little wonder and mindfulness somewhere in your words. Here, the ivory white canvas of winter is unintentionally decorated with the red scarf you lost.

You can look up the various formats of poems and their history online or research in the library, but my goal is to stir up some inspiration because that spark will begin your poetry journey. And – it’s not as hard as you may think.

I’ve found even those who don’t think they’d have any interest in poetry, find themselves with a smile or a tear in their eyes when they hear or read a good poem. 

My new children’s poetry book, The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes explores the world around us from the whimsical child’s perspective. Because I’ve been a full-time writer now for decades, and somehow naturally end up composing a verse or idea daily, it wasn’t too difficult for me to pick out 20 poems from my files for the compilation. 

I already had the title of the book. Not much rhymes with “poems” and my manuscript was originally being submitted to a publisher called Gnome Publishing, so I put together that title – The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes, thinking it sounded cute and was appropriate. Although the publishing house I signed with is a different one, the book title was already etched in my brain and I believed in the verse I imagined a group of magical gnomes or elves would enjoy reading while enjoying tea and honey biscuits perched under a mushroom cap. And so it came to be! 

I hope that reading the poems in my book, and viewing the playful artwork illustrator Naz Tarcan provided, may provide a good place for you to jump start your own love of poetry – and your own way of expressing or enjoying it!


Book Summary

Discover the magic in simple moments when a child peers in the mirror to unintentionally come upon his smile, where kittens nap in boots, fairy hugs feel good, mice delight in reading books, and January snowflakes taste yummy.

Twenty whimsical poems warm the heart and inspire cheer; a collection enticing both the young and seasoned reader to explore the enchantment of the wonderful world of poetry.

Publisher: Handersen Publishing


ISBN: 1647030757

ISBN-13: 978-1647030759

Print Pages: 28 Pages

Purchase a copy of The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, or Bookshop.org. You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list.


About the Author

Raven Howell writes stories and poetry for children. Having published several award-winning picture books, she enjoys sharing her love of literature by visiting classrooms and libraries. Raven is Creative & Publishing Advisor for Red Clover Reader, served as Poetry Director for Monster Magnificent, and writes The Book Bug column for Story Monsters Ink magazine. Her poems are found in children’s magazines such as Ladybug, Spider, Highlights for Children, Humpty Dumpty, and Hello Magazine. She’s an editor, and collaborating author for Reading is Fundamental SoCal.

When not writing, Raven enjoys sunshine and the beach, spending time with her family, hiking, laughing, reading, goofing around with artwork, and inventing new recipes.

You can find her on: 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/atpearthkeeper

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/atpearthkeeper/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RavenHowellAuthorandPoetPage/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/pickward/_saved/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/raven-howell-5a813015b/

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@ravenhowell22

Blog Tour Calendar

— Blog Tour Calendar

December 26th @ The Muffin

Join us at our WOW! blog today, The Muffin, for the blog tour launch of The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell. You can read an interview with the author and have a chance to win a copy of the book for yourself.


December 28th @ Strength 4 Spouses

Join Wendi as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell.

December 28th @ Reading Girl Reviews

Gina reviews Raven Howell’s book The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes


December 29th @ The Faerie Review

Visit Lily as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell.


December 30th @ Anthony Avina’s Blog

Join Anthony as he features a guest post by author Raven Howell featuring a beginner’s guide to writing poetry.


January 1st @ Page Peeks

Visit Jeanne’s book review column as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

January 2nd @ Mother Daughter Book Club

Join Cindy as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

January 4th @ AJ Kormon’s Blog

Join AJ as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.


January 6th @ Knotty Needle

Visit Judy as she shares her insights into Raven Howell’s book The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.


January 8th @ Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

Join Linda as she features a guest post by author Ravne Howell about why we love gnomes so much.


January 10th @ Mother Daughter Book Club

Visit Cindy’s blog again for a guest post by Raven Howell about arts and crafts, making fun gnomes for all ages.

January 12th @ Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit Anthony’s blog as he reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell. 


January 12th @ The Mommies Reviews

Visit Glenda’s blog today to read her review of The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell. You’ll also have a chance to win a book copy too!


January 16th @ Word Magic

Visit Fiona’s blog as she shares author Raven Howell’s insights about the impact on children through author visits to schools or libraries.


January 15th @ Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

Linda treats us to her review of The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell.


January 17th @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews

Lisa interviews Raven Howell about her book The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.


January 18th @ Bev A Baird’s Blog

Join Bev as she features a guest post by author Raven Howell about her lifelong journey as a poet and how she made it happen. 


January 20th @ Bev A Baird’s Blog

Come by Bev’s blog again as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes. A must-read children’s book you’ll love!


January 20th @ Editor 911

Margo treats us to her review of The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.


January 22nd @ World of My Imagination

Nicole shares her thoughts about The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.


January 23rd @ A Storybook World

Visit Deirdra’s blog and read a guest post by Raven Howell about gnome fashion and how the fairy realm influences fashion today.


January 25th @ Carole Writes

Visit Carole’s blog for her review of The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.


January 27th @ Editor 911

Come by Margo’s blog again and read Raven Howell’s guest post featuring yummy treats with a gnome theme.


January 28th @ Lisa’s Reading

Join Lisa as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes. You also have the chance to win a copy of the book too!


January 29th @ Jill Sheets’ Blog

Visit Jill’s blog as she interviews author Raven Howell about her writing journey and her experience as an author.


Still, The Sky by Tom Pearson Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author and Poet Tom Pearson take readers on a coming-of-age journey using classic mythological tales and poetry to paint a picture of love and loss in the book “Still, the Sky”.


The Synopsis

Still, the Sky is a speculative mythology rendered through poetry and art that combines the tales of Icarus and the Minotaur and creates for them a shared coming-of-age through a correspondence of written fragments, artifacts, ecofacts, and ephemera. This metaphoric framework conjures a labyrinth of fragmented memories, confessions, and tributes, all mixing in fever dreams and reflections on innocence and experience, flight and failure, love and loss.

The Review

I absolutely loved this collection of poetry. The immersive style of writing the author displayed brought the iconic and classic Greek myths and legends that people have come to know and love to live in a visceral way. The blend of poetry with mythology, as well as installation artwork and artifacts, made the collection feel vibrant and captivating.  The themes the author explores through these myths were quite profound, from the pursuit of glory and the realization of failure to the profound sense of love and loss. 

To me, the author’s ability to not only take these iconic myths and transport the reader into them through poetry but to give a more in-depth analysis and approach to these iconic figures was so mesmerizing and heartfelt. The depth of character development and heart that these poems brought to life was so invigorating, and the imagery used in the author’s writing and the art itself really captured the magic and power that ancient mythology tends to hold.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, emotional, and thoughtful, author Tom Pearson’s “Still, The Sky” was a marvelous and moving work of art that fans of poetry and mythology will not be able to put down. The natural fusion of imagery and poetry in this book brought the heart and passion that these classic mythological characters needed. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Tom Pearson is an artist and poet who works in dance, theater, film, visual art, and multi-media. He is known for his original works for theater, including the long-running, off-Broadway immersive hits THEN SHE FELL and THE GRAND PARADISE and as a founder and co-artistic director of the New York City-based Third Rail Projects and Global Performance Studio.

He is the author of two books, THE SANDPIPER’S SPELL and STILL, THE SKY. More information available at his website and on social media at: tompearsonnyc.com and @tompearsonnyc.


Phases: Poetry by Belinda Betker Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author Belinda Betker takes readers on a journey of confusion, identity, and acceptance through powerful and moving poetry in the book “Phases”. 


The Synopsis

In Phases, Belinda Betker deftly captures what it is like for those who don’t fit within rigid notions of what it means to be a “boy” or a “girl”. Capturing different phases in a life, with power and nuance she takes readers on a luminous journey of a young girl’s coming-of-age, her burgeoning sexuality (and the confusion and disorientation therein), the pitfalls of an unhappy marriage, the triumphant release of coming out, and the liberating power of drag.

In these poems, readers will find a celestial and transcendent re-discovering of the self, an unraveling of society’s expectations of gender roles, love, and desire and how these falsehoods threaten to eclipse our truth. Phases slides through time, summoning profound memories of the loss of childhood innocence through each gendered ritual, yet the resilient heart of a tomboy who stands up to bullies and can “tie a tie better than anyone” is too powerful to suppress. Betker then takes us into adulthood–an experience cut sharp by the “dark side of the moon” with a health crisis and surgery–and the victorious recovery and unearthing of buried desire and resplendent sensuality. is mercurial and unpredictable, a celebration of the non-conformist in each of us.

The Review

This was such a moving and captivating LGBTQ-Driven collection of poetry. The author’s ability to capture the raw emotions and thoughts of confusion, as well as the search for one’s identity and the promise of acceptance both for yourself and from others, is well captured in these creative yet memorable poems. The vulnerability and heart in which the author dives into these very personal memories and experiences highlight not only their journey but the difficulties and hurdles so many people in the LGBTQ community have to face.

Yet it was the imagery and the themes that really played so well with this reader. The poems did an excellent job of capturing the heart and detail of these memories of the author, and yet also found inspired and creative notes of contrast between harsh moments and beautiful realizations. The themes of accepting one’s identity, both gender and sexual identities, and the journey one go on to discover this for themselves, as well as the fight to have people accept this part of yourself, including one’s own family, were represented well. One thing that really spoke to me was the author’s ability to capture the gender “norms” that are expected of boys and girls, and how ridiculous it is that someone should be gendered or identified based on their interests on a more material or superficial level (i.e., whether a person likes makeup, clothes, cooking versus working out of the house, etc.).

The Verdict

Captivating, heartfelt, and emotional, author Belinda Betker’s “Phases” is a must-read collection of poetry for 2022 and an amazing LGBTQ Poetry read. The memoir-style writing structure and the narrative that played out across the author’s life speak volumes of their own life, as well as the experiences that so many LGBTQ readers are experiencing even to this day. The need to understand how one person’s gender and sexual identity is always something worth exploring, and that it is not always a settled thing, is something so important that should never be dismissed. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


Book Spotlight & Author Q&A: Flowers Grow on Broken Walls by Farena Bajwa

Hello everyone! Welcome to a special post today, where I am lucky enough to share with you the upcoming book from author Farena Bajwa, Flowers Grow on Broken Walls, a beautiful collection of poetry about healing and finding out who we are in the world. I hope you’ll enjoy this special spotlight, including a fantastic Q&A with the author. 



Flowers Grow on Broken Walls is a unique collection of poems and prose that talks about healing and finding yourself in a world that constantly tells you that’s who you shouldn’t be.

The poems, which tell a story, go over our everyday human emotions; from being heartbroken and questioning our self-worth in a world of judgment and scrutinizing social media, to finding ourselves and appreciating those really important in our lives – especially our inner, true selves. 

The collection displays a raw and honest portrayal of an artist who cannot help but create something beautiful in the midst of the ugliness she has been put through, and who continues to hope against all odds, as she lets go of what she has been told is important and finds herself in one truly is.

The story that starts with heartache ends with healing, it starts with rejection from someone but ends with self-acceptance, which is the only way for true healing.

Author Bio:

Farena Bajwa is a talented poet, storyteller, actor, filmmaker, and voice-over artist. Even though she studied Marketing Management, her creativity comes from her heart. Whether it’s filmmaking, voice-over, or acting, she owes it to her life philosophy: ‘’learning by doing’’. ‘’Flowers Grow on Broken Walls’’ is Farena’s first written collection of poetry that speaks about the journey to self-healing after experiencing the loss of someone, but mostly, the loss of yourself. She wants to inspire her readers using her power of words to make them feel less alone and to let them know that no matter what they go through, healing is just around the corner, already cheering for you.

Website: https://farenabajwa.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brilliant_mess/


Author Q&A

On writing:

Where do you get inspiration for your stories?

I am primarily inspired by my own experiences, but I love to hear and to learn about other people’s experiences too. I am also inspired by situations going on in the world.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been journaling my whole life. But I only started writing poems when I started writing Flowers Grow on Broken Walls. The interesting thing is, I’ve always had thoughts running through my head formed in a poetic way. When I didn’t understand, when something happened, I would think those thoughts in small poems. I thought art would be able to lift off the weight from unpleasant situations I was dealing with right away. And oftentimes, it turned out to be true. 

Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?

Yes, constantly. But I don’t get intimidated by it. Whenever I have a writer’s block I just feel like: “Oh, I am probably not meant to be writing right now. So let’s see what I can do to take are of myself/have fun/get some other work done etc. And eventually the block ends and I am inspired again. The key? Letting go.

What is your next project?

All I know is that I am currently writing poems. One poem after another. I don’t have a specific theme, I guess I’ll find out when the time comes.

What genre do you write and why?

I write poetry because poems are able to give my feelings a voice. They help me understand what I am feeling and also how I can deal with these emotions.

What is the last great book you’ve read?

The invisible life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab. A magnificent piece of work dancing between different timelines, magic, and blood cold reality that we often think boring. But truthfully, it is our reality that is more enchanting than magic if you stop taking friendly gestures of strangers, or new shortcuts you discovered etc. for granted.  

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?

A reviewer wrote:

I loved reading Shakespeare and feel that this author could certainly be a modern day version of him. The disappointments, loss, love, and other happenstances of life are well within these poems.”

Just reading the name Shakespeare connected to my book gave me all the right chills- and I am so grateful for it😊

What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing your book?

The biggest challenge was having to go back to these intense negative feelings that I was experiencing. I had to recall every emotion and I was scared I would be pulled back into the dark. The biggest reward was knowing that I had overcome these feelings. While I was writing the pages for the first few chapters that cover those lower feelings, I realized how much I had changed and how it didn’t affect me as I thought it would.

On rituals:

Where do you write?

Primarily in Cafés. The smell of coffee, the cozy ambience and the gentle, faint talking of people inspires and energizes me. 

Do you write every day?

No, only when I am inspired. I can’t write if I don’t feel the words I am writing. If a word only feels like a word to me and not like an emotion, I can’t write because it doesn’t seem truthful to me. Afterall, poetry is all about a feeling wanting to take shape, so it can be released.

What is your writing schedule?

I don’t set specific timeframes to write, nor do I schedule specific days. I write when I feel like I have something to say, when something is bothering me, when I need to put my feelings into written words. I can write for a whole week and create 3 poems a day or I won’t write for weeks. I can write and pretend but I can’t lie about how I feel. Also, readers are not stupid, they know instantly if someone is being authentic in their words or not.

In today’s tech savvy world, most writers use a computer or laptop. Have you ever written parts of your book on paper?

I almost only write my poems on paper. Flowers Grow on Broken Walls was entirely handwritten. I bought a notebook with colorful flowers on the cover when I started writing my book. I saw that notebook and it just called out to me. I didn’t know then, “Flowers” would become the main message in my book😊 

Fun stuff:

Favorite dessert?

Cake. In any shape or form. I love cake. I would die for cake.

What TV series are you currently binge watching?

Killing Eve and Peaky Blinders. My two favorite series I’ve already watched a thousand times. Both series are brilliant. Amazing writing, amazing acting, fast paced, dramatic with moments of fun and ease in between and – I just love these kinds of series!

What song is currently playing on a loop in your head?

There are actually two songs:

Love wave by The 1-800

Ebb tide by The Platters

What is your go-to breakfast item?

Coffee. Always and forever coffee. 

Who was your childhood celebrity crush?

Ash Ketchum of Pokémon…I mean come on. How can you not find that drive and that determination that boy had attractive? He wanted to become the Pokémon master and he was GOING for it. Damn.

One thing no one would expect from you.

I have a deep love for dinosaurs. I am fascinated by the thought that there’ve been huge reptiles walking on our earth once. I used to collect dinosaur figures, read books and watch documentaries (and of course Jurassic Park). I wanted to become a paleontologist when I was a child because I always hoped to find a living dinosaur one day. It is my dream to see a real-life sized skeleton of a dinosaur someday. I never had the opportunity to see one.

Really? What is your favorite dinosaur?

A Brachiosaurus. You’ve got to love this teeny tiny head on this big fat body. The fact that it weighed more than 28 tons but only eat plants, it belonged to one of the tallest dinosaurs and could easily crush another dinosaur with a slight step – but still was one of the friendliest and more peaceful reptiles is just ridiculous- and so cute. 

Songs for the Cleveland Avenue Warriors by Gary E. Moore Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author and Poet Gary E. Moore use his experience living in Chicago’s South Side and as an inner-city school teacher and father to deliver a collection of poetry that dispels the trope of the “angry black man” and instead paints a realistic yet emotionally-driven image of vulnerability in his book, “Songs for the Cleveland Avenue Warriors”. 


The Synopsis

Some poets spend their lives within the cloistered walls of colleges and universities.Gary E. Moore has spent his life dedicated to education-but not behind cloisteredwalls. In over fi ve decades on Earth, he’s been educated by the streets of Chicago’ssouth side, by a system designed to deal out law and order disproportionately, andby a culture which rejects the idea of the nurturing, gentle black man. In his poeticdebut, Moore draws on his experience as an inner city schoolteacher, as a father, and as a former child himself to paint an emotional landscape which is alternatelypoignant, shocking, witty, and furious.

In “Songs for the Cleveland Avenue Warrior,” Moore breaks the strangling troupeof the angry black man with the vulnerability of his message, the melody of hislanguage, and the passion for nurturing which is woven throughout the work.Written in three sections, in honor of ancestral gemetric wisdom, “Songs” is a timemachine, a critique on the present, and a piercing ray of hope which illuminates ourcollective humanity. 

The Review

I absolutely loved this book. The collection brought such a harmonious tone to both the emotions each of these poems conveys with the narrative style of poetry the collection took on. Exploring life and the adversities he faced over his life, the poems did an amazing job of putting the reader into the author’s world and visualizing the experiences and accompanying emotions that came with those experiences. 

The themes and representation that the author included in this book were perfect. The examination of race, class, and family set against the backdrop of the Chicago South Side was an inspired and heartfelt choice. The examination of our nation’s broken system and how it impacts various communities, in particular the Black Community, was perfectly represented here. Yet it was the way the author’s poems contradicted and erased the stereotypes often thrust upon the Black Community, especially young black men, that was so captivating and emotional to read. 

The Verdict

A beautiful, thoughtful, and highly creative collection of poems, author Gary E. Moore’s “Songs For the Cleveland Avenue Warriors” is a must-read book. The imagery and honesty the author conveys in these poems and the way not only his own personal experiences impacted the narrative style poetry found within but how readers will be able to read into these poems was truly awe-inspiring. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

the dust of hope: rune poems by Judy Croome Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author and poet Judy Croome takes readers on an emotional and calming journey through the modern-day anxieties we all face through a return to the meanings and power behind ancient Nordic runes and poetry in her collection, “the dust of hope: rune poems”.


The Synopsis

Judy Croome’s latest collection of poetry returns to the ancient ways of the Nordic runes, to shine a light of hope and healing as we navigate through the wilderness of anxiety permeating these early years of the twenty-first century.

The simple verses console the reader with a calm acceptance that, even during a global pandemic, everyday life ebbs and flows with the natural rhythms of the timeless oceans.

Here are poems that invite us to stop, to breathe, and to see the world around us from a new perspective birthed within the centre of our souls.

The Review

This was such an intriguing and captivating book of poetry. As someone who has been fascinated with mythology, ancient history and cultures, and the study of ancient belief systems, this book really spoke to me. The idea that each of the author’s poems represented an individual rune was so unique and was amazing to see connect with the author’s message and themes. The way the author was able to captured personal experiences and emotions they had been going through and tie them into the overall narrative of this collection was a brilliant sign of the author’s ability to invoke imagery and tone within her poems.

The balance the author struck between the representation of the ancient runes with the modern-day struggles both internally and externally we all face was perfectly captured. The eloquent yet powerful way the author captured the isolation and pain that the quarantine and COVID-19 Pandemic has caused over the last couple of years was not only relevant but emotionally hard-hitting and gave voice to an emotion we all have felt at one time or another over the last couple of years.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, beautifully written, and thoughtful in its approach, author Judy Croome’s “the dust of hope: rune poems” is a must-read book of poetry. The woven way the author brings together the personal experiences and emotions they hold with the magic and healing nature of the runes and their history made this such a calming and intuitive experience, and a wonderful read overall. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Judy Croome lives and writes in Johannesburg, South Africa. Shortlisted in the African Writing Flash Fiction 2011 competition, Judy’s short stories, poems and articles have appeared in various magazines, anthologies and newspapers, such as The Sunday Times, The Huffington Post (USA) and the University of the Witwatersrand’s Itch Magazine. In 2021 and 2016, Judy was the poetry judge for Writers2000’s Annual Writing Competition. In 2021, Judy presented an hour long workshop to Writers 2000 called “The Gift of Poetry”

Judy loves her family, cats, exploring the meaning of life, chocolate, cats, rainy days, ancient churches with their ancient graveyards, cats, meditation and solitude. Oh, and cats. Judy loves cats (who already appear to have discovered the meaning of life.)

Her fiction and poetry books ‘the dust of hope: rune poems” (2021); “Drop by Drop: poems of loss” (2020); “a stranger in a strange land” (2015),”The Weight of a Feather & Other Stories” (2013), “a Lamp at Midday” (2012) and “Dancing in the Shadows of Love” (2011) are available from Aztar Press.

“Street Smart Taxpayers: A practical guide to your rights in South Africa” (Juta Law, 2017) was co-authored with her late husband Dr. Beric Croome (1960 – 2019). Follow her on GoodReadsFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Blog Tour Schedule:

Jan. 27: The Book Lover’s Boudoir (review)

Feb. 3: Anthony Avina Blog (review)

Feb. 8: Wall-to-Wall Books (review)

Feb. 9: Little Miss Star (review)

Feb. 17: Necromancy Never Pays (review)

Feb. 22: Review Tales by Jeyran Main (review)

March 2: Anthony Avina Blog (Interview)

March 8: True Book Addict (review)

March 17: Pages for Sanity (review)

March 22: the bookworm (review)

Follow the blog tour with the hashtag #dustofhope and @judy_croome

Qurbaan by Zaira Pirzada Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Poet and Author Zaira Pirzada takes readers on an emotional journey of love, loss, and raising the next generation in the United States without losing the connections to her ancestors in the poetry collection, “Qurbaan”. 

The Synopsis

A Devotee; A Martyr; A Sacrifice. This is my journey through love; through loss; through becoming in America. My truth is my sacrifice for the women, like myself, who will raise the next generation far from our ancestors.


The Review

This was such a powerful and emotional read. The author manages to pack a lot of themes and moving messages that resonate with so many in our current times into such a short read, and yet still makes quite an impact on the reader as these themes bloom on the page. 

The imagery was so powerful and moving in this collection. The themes of immigration and wanting to stay connected to our homes and our cultures, and the power of love won and love lost, really hit me emotionally, as I felt the author’s emotions pouring out of every verse and their experiences played out like a film in my mind’s eye. 

The Verdict

A thoughtful, insightful, and emotionally engaging read, author and poet Zaira Pirzada’s “Qurbaan” is a must-read poetry collection for 2021. Socially relevant and giving the Indian and Pakistani-American community, especially women, a voice and connectivity that very few books are able to put together in the public eye. Giving a fresh and different perspective on the struggles of those who come to the United States and must reconcile their connection to their home and heritage with the new beginnings and harsh realities that people face in this nation, as well as the more personal look into how love and loss impact our lives, makes this such an important and overwhelmingly amazing read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Zaira Pirzada is a multi-lingual poet, an artist, a technologist, and an academic. Her art is inspired by her wide range of professional roles and the double-conscious experience of being a Indian-Pakistani-American woman. A principal advisor at one of the world’s leading information technology research and advisory companies and a board member of Women at Gartner, Zaira holds an M.A. in Inter- national Affairs focused on security, 

intelligence, and crisis communications. She is in the midst of furthering her education by pursuing an M.S. in Engineering in Data Science and Security Informatics from Johns Hopkins University. Zaira has worked at leading think tanks and appeared in international media for her expertise in intelligence gathering. Zaira, who won Miss Pakistan USA 2018, is also a Meisner-trained actress from the William Esper Studio and counts acting and spoken word among her greatest passions.