Literature Reviews

Review: charcoal thunderstorms by Cheyenne Raine

semicolon ; (1).png

Rating: ★★★★

Title: charcoal thunderstorms

Author: Cheyenne Raine

Genre: Poetry

Publication: 2017, Amazon Createspace

Content Warnings: themes of threat, war, death, bodily harm,

Summary: “charcoal thunderstorms is a collection that dances with a more youthful and adventurous escape of poetry. the book has eighty poems divided into five chapters and six short stories and tales. the paperback version allows for the reader to create art within the pages where the poems dwell. there is an art to loving a storm, here is where it begins.” (Source: Goodreads)

My thoughts

*I was given a free PDF copy by the author in exchange for a review. *

charcoal thunderstorms is a wondrous poetry collection. Cheyenne’s aim of the collection is to entice the reader into remembering their childhood and their childhood imagination. As we grow older, we often forget the magic that exists in everyday life, from the sun rising in the morning to the glowing stars in the night sky.

won’t you open the door,

let in a little noise,

a little chaos,

a little bit of everything

you forgot to enjoy?

young & living, p.109

Cheyenne’s collection immerses you in different realities to remind you of what is important. The poetry book is divided into six distinct sections, 5 of which are poetry sections and the sixth and final section contains short stories. My favourite sections were royalty and war, monsters and magic, and wilderness and city. I connected to the majority of Cheyenne’s poems in these sections because I was very much an adventurous child.

i hope you are somewhere

running in a forest,

barefoot, with your wolves

running with wolves, wilderness and city, p.49

I think what is fantastic about Cheyenne’s collection is that everyone will identify with different parts of the collection. However, I struggled to connect to the short stories at the end of the collection, they were lovely to read, but I didn’t know what to take away from them. I did like ‘starting with the sea’ as it had a poetic quality and ocean metaphors are the best!

Why did I read it?

Cheyenne was looking for book bloggers to review this collection, and because I loved their other poetry collection, maroon daydreams, I just had to read the next!

Do I recommend this?

If you enjoy being whisked away to another world or to another time, then this poetry collection is for you.

Does the author have other works?

Cheyenne Raine has written other poetry collections such as maroon daydreams, lavender petals and a wild heart, and One Hundred and One.

Until next time,

Melissa (1)

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Literature Reviews

Review: Semicolon ; by McKayla Debonis

semicolon ;

Rating: ★★★★★

Title: Semicolon ;

Author: McKayla Debonis

Genre: Poetry

Publication, 2017, Amazon Createspace

Content Warnings:  “anxiety, descriptions of panic attacks, sexual abuse/harassment, depression, suicidal tendencies, self-harm, body dysmorphia.” (Source: Author)

Summary: “A Collection of poetry that uncovers the raw and heavy emotions that come with anxiety, trauma, and other experiences.

Part two takes you into the healing, bringing the light, the meditation, the beauty in finding oneself after all the chaos has passed.

& finally, you’re left wanting to start your next chapter; the one that comes after the semicolon.” (Source: Goodreads)

My thoughts

I had the honour of being a beta reader for McKayla’s latest collection, and let me tell you, folks, YOU ARE IN FOR A RIDE. Semicolon is a beautiful poetry collection. Truly. However, do not be mistaken when I say “beautiful”, I do not mean the kind that is pleasing to the eye, I mean the kind that stares right into your soul and wakes you up.

The poetry collection is divided into two sections, or rather two separate “sentences” which are connected by a semicolon. The first section/sentence concerns a painful, numb existence. McKayla’s descriptions are tangible to the point you feel as if you are a spectator. There is haunting imagery throughout the first section, so please make sure to read the content warnings above. There are some poems which just blew me away upon first reading, I just stared at the page in awe. McKayla’s writing comes from a place of truth and that is evident.

i folded each edge seamlessly

carefully crafting my points

hiding myself away from the world

– in perfect creases, p.32

I connected with the majority of McKayla’s poetry. The collection ebbs and flows, just like a sentence. The collection transitions into a much brighter place where you feel yourself being repaired as each poem goes on. You are enchanted and uplifted into this new existence, but also reminded to remember that healing is not linear, that we must always remember to continue after a “semicolon”.

i’m falling back in love with the big heart

inside my chest

– loving myself all over again as if it’s brand new, p.55

This particular line in the second section struck a chord with me. I love this notion of falling in love with yourself and your heart, it is not something society teaches us explicitly. Having read the previous dark section of the book, this particular line felt like the “heart” of the collection. Pun intended!

This collection was so beautiful to read that I had a good cry after it, and some of McKayla’s words have stayed with me long after reading.

Why did I read it?

I loved McKayla’s first collection, Bones in the Garden, so I knew I had to be one of the first to read the latest poetry book!

Do I recommend this?

If you love cathartic, deep poetry, then this is for you. I loved reading this!

Does the author have other works?

YES! McKayla has written another poetry collection which was published earlier this year, titled Bones in the Garden. I reviewed it here.

Until next time,

Melissa (1)

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Literature Reviews

Review: I Danced With Sorrow by Alicia Wright

I danced with sorrow.png

Rating: ★★★★ (4 stars)

Title: I Danced With Sorrow

Poet: Alicia Wright

Genre: Poetry

Where to buy: Amazon

Summary: “I Danced with Sorrow is a collection of short verse poetry detailing the journey of one girl as she struggles to come to terms with what she has endured. It is split into five sections. Each is centred on a different aspect of her life, tackling various topics such as heartbreak, abuse, and finding liberation through creativity. Some of the main themes included are love, life, death, hope, loss, and the rebuilding of self. I Danced with Sorrow encourages the reader to explore the darker aspects of life, and reminds them that even after the chaos, there is still light.” (Source: Goodreads)

Content Warnings: abuse, family estrangement, bullets, blood, death, low self-esteem, body negativity, sexual imagery, poor mental health, war, one moment of violent sexual imagery, suffocation.

My thoughts

Wright’s debut poetry collection is incredibly immersive; the images, questions, worlds created and explored will stay with you long after you have finished.

And so, you came,

and, unlike words,

you went away.

(Moving Forward, p.67)

Wright’s writing style is fantastical yet authentic. The poetry collection evidently draws from real life experiences, however, I struggled to connect with some of the poems as I felt some of the poems were forced. This is probably just down to personal taste.

I also wish the collection had a content warning as some of the imagery was quite intense. Additionally, I felt some of the typography was a tad random, in particular, the capitalisation at the beginning of each line in some poems, but again, this is down to personal taste.

Nonetheless, some of Wright’s poems hit me hard:

What good is your crown

if it’s made of thorns

and carries the weight of your guilt?

(The Reckoning, p.64)

This poem is so powerful, so much so that I had to stop for a few minutes to absorb it.

But, to bear your words was

to shoulder mountains.

(What Changed Her, p.24)

This is an incredible metaphor. The line conveys the core meaning of the collection: survival. This poem will stay with me for a long time.

Why did I read it?

I received a free copy of I Danced With Sorrow from the author. Thank you Alicia!

Does the poet have other works?

According to Goodreads, sadly not.


An incredibly varied poetry collection that does not let you go. Wright’s writing style is captivating, all of your senses are engaged.

– Melissa Jennings

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