Review: When the Bee Stings

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Last year, I read the author’s other book, This Woman is Still Girl, and enjoyed it, so I of course wanted to read her newest collection. It did not disappoint! 

The growth from her other book to this one is so apparent. I liked her other book (I gave it 4 stars), but this one took it to the next level. IT tackles a wide range of topics from heartbreak to mental health. Every poem hits the right note. It’s raw. It’s real. It’s authentic. It’s inspiring. 

So many of the poems resonated with me. Here is a list of my favorites:

  • When I Wear Red Lipstick (pg. 10)
  • All The Stupid Things I Considered After The Breakup (pg. 12)
  • Heartbreak Survival Guide (pg. 18)
  • Walk Away (pg. 33)
  • Hunters (pg. 38)
  • Sunday Service (pg. 40)
  • Faith (pg. 54)
  • Inside Voices (pg. 59)
  • When The Bee Stings (pg. 61)
  • What I Live For (pg. 78)
  • My Own Advice (pg. 83)
  • Coloring Outside The Lines (pg. 87)
  • Hope Will Be The Shelter (pg. 92)
  • Catch Fire (pg. 94)
  • Winter (pg. 105)
  • Thankful (pg. 110)
  • My Honest Poem (pg. 117) 
  • On Her Own Terms (pg. 128)
  • Your Body Is Poetry (pg. 138)
  • No One Tells You (pg. 241)
  • Women’s Evolution (pg. 151)

Overall, this was a stunning collection of poetry that comes from the heart! 


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Review: The Lamps of History

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Rating: ★★★

I received this book for free from the author as part of an Instagram review tour with TLC Book Tours. 

I find that poetry is always the toughest genre to review. It is so personal and subjective that it is hard to critique it in the same way as prose. Because of this, poetry can be a hit or a miss and that is how I felt about this book. It is hard to put into words exactly what I thought about this book.  

This was a very interesting collection of poetry that didn’t quite resonate with me. There were some poems that I liked but others I didn’t really get. I felt like I missed some of the references in some pieces and struggled to make out exactly what the poem was about. That being said I still enjoyed some of the poems. My favorites were: 

  • Lokshen Kugel (pg. 12)
  • When Literature Made Something Happen (pg. 18)
  • After the Party, We… (pg. 20)
  • Thought Thread (pg. 30)
  • Garlic Press (pg. 44)
  • All Souls’ Day (pg. 48)
  • Iridescence (pg. 49) 
  • Acnestis (pg. 53)
  • Knock (pg. 58)
  • Still: Softening Stale Bread (pg. 59)
  • Cenobite (pg. 76)
  • After Certitude (pg. 89)

Overall, this collection wasn’t my kind of poetry but I’m sure others would love and resonate with it. 


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Review: Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass

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Rating: ★★★★★

First I just have to preface this review by saying that I am a huge fan of Lana Del Rey. She is one of my all time favorite singers and I’ve been in love with her music for years. I’ve always resonated well with her songs so that made me super eager to read her poetry. 

This poetry collection is very atmospheric. Reading the poems is like being  transported to a sunny and dreamy day in LA. It’s very on brand for Lana Del Rey.

I liked how a lot of the poems had substance. A lot of poetry collections nowadays have very short poems so I was glad to see that this one had long ones. I really liked how a lot of the longer poems told a story. 

Additionally, I liked how there were some haikus (my favorite type of poem) and that they were separated in their own section. 

The book itself is also incredibly gorgeous. Throughout the book are photos taken by Lana Del Rey herself. The photos are really beautiful and add to the overall vibe of the collection. The poems themselves are presented exactly as Lana had typed them out making the book feel really personal. 

Lastly, I loved the Notes For A Poet section, which was a lined section where the reader could write their own thoughts/notes/poems. I thought that was just a brilliant touch.

Overall, I loved the poems in this collection just as much as I loved the overall presentation of the book! 


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Review: The Places We Sleep

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Rating: ★★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free from Books Forward in exchange for an honest review.

I was really intrigued by this book because it centers on 9/11. I was only 6 years old when it happened so I never truly felt the magnitude of it. 

This book did an amazing job detailing how 9/11 rocked everyone’s world. You saw how 12 year old Abbey felt. You saw how her mom reacted to finding out her sister went missing during the attack. You saw her dad’s military response to it. You saw how regular civilians felt about the possibility of war. You saw racial prejudices exhibited by Abbey’s classmates to a fellow student. The book covered a range of experiences.

This is a novel in verse so the entire book was written in poetry. As a whole, I thought the poems were well done. However, I would have loved if the poems had titles. Instead, they were numbered. Sometimes titles can help enhance the poem and create a bigger impact. But on the flip side, having no titles made the book more novel like. It reads very smoothly because of that. At times, it didn’t even feel like you’re were reading poetry because you get sucked into the story. 

Plot-wise, I wanted a little more, especially towards the end. I wanted there to be a little more development with some of the supporting characters. Even though this book centers on 9/11, it is also a coming of age story. One of the things that gets explored is periods. I am happy that this book did not shy away from showing girls getting their period for the first time. 

Overall, I recommend this book to anyone looking to learn more about the American reaction to 9/11. This book is aimed towards middle grade readers but can still be enjoyed by adults. 


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Review: Walk With Wings

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

This was such an inspiring poetry collection! 

The book is divided into 5 sections each with its own theme. My favorite was Monsoon Love, which was the shortest section but it was filled with love poems. I have a thing for romantic poems. I am such a sucker for them. A lot of poems from this section reminded me of Michael Faudet and Lang Leav’s poetry. The following sections were very reminiscent of Rupi Kaur and Amanda Lovelace’s poetry. So if you like any of those poets, you’ll probably like this one. 

I had a lot of favorite poems. Here is the list of my favorites:

  • I Write To Heal (pg 5)
  • Missing You (pg 9)
  • Synchronization (pg 10)
  • Love Song (pg 13)
  • Forever (pg 17)
  • True Colors (pg 24)
  • Makeup (pg 33)
  • Heartbite (pg 34)
  • Masking Pain (pg 36)
  • Dying Love (pg 38)
  • Almost Right (pg 39)
  • Caged (pg 40)
  • Numb (pg 47)
  • Still I Dream (pg 51)
  • Bitter Trials (pg 53)
  • Blessings (pg 61)
  • A Letter To My Natural Hair (pg 65)
  • Celebrate Yourself (pg 71)
  • No Ordinary Woman (pg 75) 
  • Rejection (pg 78) 
  • Girl Power (pg 87)
  • Girl Boss (pg 98)
  • Irreplaceable (pg 107)
  • Love Hurts (pg 108) 
  • Shit Happens (pg 109)
  • Inner Battles (pg 111)
  • Situationship (pg 114)
  • Dignity (pg 118)
  • Love Exists (pg 123) 
  • Someone’s Favorite (pg 124)
  • Introvert (pg 131)
  • Self-Development (pg 151)
  • Partnership (pg 160)

It’s a lot, I know! I just loved all the bits of wisdom in these poems. The whole collection was very uplifting and positive. It’s a great book to read after a heartbreak or just when you’re down. 

Overall, I loved this collection! 


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Review: Beauty Mark

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Rating: ★★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Candlewick Press) in exchange for an honest review. 

I’m a fairly new Marilyn Monroe fan. I’ve only seen “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and “How To Marry A Millionaire” and loved her in both of those. I was so excited to read this because I wanted to learn more about her. I knew she had a tragic life and this book dove right into it. 

This novel in verse goes through Marilyn’s entire life, starting from when she was a kid to a few weeks before her death. All aspects of her life are explored, painting a stunning portrait of this complicated woman.

As for the poems themselves, some of them were amazing but some fell a little flat. A novel in verse is a little harder to write since it does tell a story, so that is forgivable. 

Some of my favorite poems were:

  • Stand Still (pg 2)
  • From Wonderland to Oz (pg 26)
  • Baby Siren (pg 56)
  • Dare I Wish? Dare I Dream? (Pg 75) 
  • Blondes Prefer Gentle Men (pg 106)
  • No Pink Tights But a Gold Band (pg 114)
  • I Got Rhythm (pg 124)
  • Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover (pg 128)
  • Living Up to My Name (pg 136)
  • No One Malady (pg 137)
  • Miscarriage Blues (pg 150)
  • Dogs Are a Girl’s Best Friend (pg 162)
  • Secrets of Style (pg 164)
  • Rx: “Vitamins” (pg 169)
  • The Kennedys (pg 175)
  • Who Is Marilyn Monroe? (pg 178)
  • Epilogue (pg 181)

I really liked that there was a poem about how she helped Ella Fitzgerald (I Got Rhythm). I am happy that was highlighted. I also loved the whole poem dedicated to Marilyn’s love of reading (Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover). I’ve always loved that she was a bookworm. Lastly, the last poem (Epilogue) was a clever way to end the book. That poem just consisted of a series of headlines relating to Marilyn after 1962, which gave you a glimpse of her lasting legacy and mystique. 

Overall, this was a fascinating take on the life of Marilyn. If you’re Marilyn fan, or just want to learn more about her, I recommend reading this book. It’s a quick read but it does leave a big impact! 


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Review: Somebody Give This Heart a Pen

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Candlewick Press) in exchange for an honest review. 

This book of poetry was written by a performance poet and it shows! 

I’ve never read a collection by a performance poet before, so it took a little getting used to at first. But once I got the hang of it, I loved it! Just reading the poems on paper doesn’t do it justice.  I actually ended up watching some of her performances on YouTube, including a few of the poems from this book. She really is a talent! 

I had a lot of favorites, especially from the Break section. My favorites were:

  • Excerpt from a Letter to My Little Black Girl (pg 12)
  • the leaders won’t (pg 23)
  • Fearmongering (pg 25)
  • Risky Nostalgia (pg 41)
  • How We Got Here, Part 20 (pg 49)
  • Whipped on You (pg 54)
  • Trust Issues (pg 58)
  • Slow Sky, Move On By (pg 63) 
  • Scary Everyone (pg 64)
  • Fidgeting (pg 66)
  • Let Hurt (pg 68)
  • from God (pg 81) 
  • When to Write (pg 98)

I loved how authentic her poems felt. I could feel her emotions and experiences very vividly. I liked that some of the poems touched upon being black in the UK. In “the leaders won’t,” she name checks Black British people (Damilola, Stephen Lawrences, and Mark Duggan specifically) who were all killed in racially motivated attacks. #BlackLivesMatter everywhere. Being an American I had not heard of these deaths before so I’m so glad she said their names. 

Overall, this was a phenomenal collection and I look forward to seeing what else Sophia Thakur puts out. 


Below are some of the poems from the book performed by Sophia Thakur herself!


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Review: Cracked Marble

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

This was such an emotional poetry collection! 

This collection is focused on heartbreak and healing and the author just pours her heart on every page. Books like this is why I love poetry. It’s real. It’s raw. It’s unfiltered. It’s emotion on a page. I can tell that every poem came from deep inside her. 

There is also a good mix of prose in the collection which I loved. The prose was just as strong as the poems and added variety to the book.

Some of my favorite pieces were:

  • East Coast (pg 23)
  • Grievance (pg 43)
  • For the people who fall in love with potential (pg 59)
  • Past me (pg 106) 
  • You have what it takes (pg 110)
  • On behalf of him (pg 111) 
  • Re-connect (pg 142)

I also loved that she made the reader a part of the book. At the end she has a little note to the reader where she describes the book being a conversation. I found that to be a really nice touch and made me feel really connected to the poems. 

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of poetry and prose. If you are looking for a poetry book that packs an emotional punch, then read this one! 


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Review: This Woman is Still Girl

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

This was a really powerful poetry collection. 

I really liked how this collection told the author’s story and portrayed her life experiences. It was very raw, personal, and real. I felt like I really got to know her and what she went through. I particularly liked that she talked a lot about her mixed heritage. 

I liked how the book was organized into three sections (is Girl, is in Between, is Woman). Sometimes with poetry collections, poems are just scattered throughout with no particular thought to the order of them. Having the sections helped tie it all together and led the reader on a journey through her life. It made it very easy to see her growth. 

Some of my favorite poems were: 

  • Mixed Girl (pg 12)
  • Dating (pg 52) 
  • I am still girl (pg 62)
  • How I Became A Writer (pg 71)
  • I am woman (pg 109)
  • Khaleesi (pg 126)
  • Hard (pg 133) 

Overall, this was an amazing collection about growing up as a woman of color and discovering who you are. 


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Review: Cult of Two

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Rating: ★★★★★

I haven’t read much of anything this January but I’m glad the one book I did read was this one. This book was exactly what I needed right now. 

So many of the poems spoke to me. For example, one of my favorites was “If Someone Really Cares.” I related a lot to that one. Other favorites of mine included, “The Staircase,” “Never Close Enough,” “Happy New Year,” ”When Will I See You Again?” “Awake,” “Pleasure Bound,” and “A New Romance.” Also, I loved that he made a reference to Lana Del Rey (my favorite singer) in “Our Pretend Summer.” 

I’ve been a huge fan of Michael Faudet since he published his first book, Dirty Pretty Things. None of his subsequent books quite lived up to that except for this one. This book reminded me so much of Dirty Pretty Things. If you missed his romantic and sometimes erotic poems, look no further than this collection. 

Overall, I really loved this collection and it is just as strong as his first book. 


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