Reviews: The Heart is Improvisational by Various and Depression & Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benaim

theheartisimprovisationalThe Heart is Improvisational by Various

My Rating: 3/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: September 1st, 2017

Publisher: Guernica Editions

Pages: 130 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Poets attribute an array of roles and capacities to the involuntary muscle. The heart becomes a repository of erotic and familial love, and a sanctuary for memory. The poets explore the flux of the heart’s responses and instigations: the heart’s tender overtures, its joyous pulse, its mating call for the other, its changeable temperament, its final tick in freeze-frame. Among the poets featured: Kenneth Sherman, Lorna Crozier, Marilyn Bowering, Roo Borson, Patrick Lane, Charles Bukowski, Eugénio de Andrade, John Barton, Robyn Sarah, and Mary di Michele.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a poetry collection featuring works from a wide variety of authors, all giving their unique perspectives on the most important part of human life—the heart. It was an extremely hit or miss collection for me, and I found it very hard to get into. In general, I tended to prefer the poems that focused on the less tangible, more emotional views of the heart, rather than the technical and clinical depictions. To me, the poems that spoke from essentially a medical perspective felt like reading a biology textbook—albeit a lyrical one—rather than a poetry collection.

All of the writers who contributed are extremely talented; all of the writing was strong and skilled. In my opinion, however, the flow of the writing—both individually and as a whole—was definitely broken up by the ones that focused more on fact than feeling. Of course, not all poetry needs to be abstract and romantic. The freedom to be whatever the writer wants it to be is one of the reasons why this is such a wonderful vehicle for creativity and expression. But for me, I think I just prefer poems that creatively expand on the emotional rather than the physical.

3.0 TARDISes

depressionandothermagictricksDepression & Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benaim

My Rating: 3/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: August 22nd, 2017

Publisher: Button Poetry

Pages: 80 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Depression & Other Magic Tricks is the debut book by Sabrina Benaim, one of the most-viewed performance poets of all time, whose poem “Explaining My Depression to My Mother” has become a cultural phenomenon with over 5,000,000 views.

Depression & Other Magic Tricks explores themes of mental health, love, and family. It is a documentation of struggle and triumph, a celebration of daily life and of living. Benaim’s wit, empathy, and gift for language produce a work of endless wonder.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This collection was all right, but I found it to be just a bit disappointing. I had heard a little bit about Sabrina Benaim prior to picking this up, so I was quite eager to experience her work. However, though I did enjoy it to some extent, this collection wasn’t quite as good I was expecting it to be. The poems themselves were quality—Benaim has quite a talent for expressing herself in a vivid way, and speaks intelligently on many subjects that can be difficult to fully comprehend. However, while I did enjoy this collection, it did not click with me in the way I would have liked. Her writing style did not flow overly well for me so I never quite got fully into it.

I thought Benaim’s way of tapping into and clearly conveying her feelings was very good, and it was easy to connect to her and feel her emotions on a deep level. Despite my feelings on the collection overall, I could definitely see how raw and poignant her words were. These poems deal with many of Benaim’s personal experiences in her life so far, and sheds some light on her experience with depression—a great way to help open minds on the subject of mental illness. I wish I had enjoyed it a bit more, but overall, I think this is a beautiful collection that many readers will love and relate to.

3.0 TARDISes

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Guest Post: Author Courtney Peppernell

Today’s post is a guest post by the very lovely and talented author Courtney Peppernell. I am incredibly honored and excited to have this chance get to know her and to work with her to promote her wonderful poetry collections and novels! Please make sure to check out Courtney on her website, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads. There are also links to the Goodreads pages of her work scattered throughout, so definitely make sure to check those out as well!

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I’ve never done a guest post before but when Ariana who writes The Quirky Book Nerd asked me to do a guest post, I was excited to jump in.

My name is Courtney Peppernell, I’m a 26 year old LGBTQ author and I live in Sydney, Australia. A lot of people write to me and ask about how I write. I really believe it’s important to develop your own writing process, as not everyone is the same, but I’m always happy to talk a little about my own writing process. A good book to read is called “5000 words per hour” by Chris Fox. It really helped to develop my ability to sit down each day and write as much as I can in a short space of time.

If anyone is like me, I am generally a very busy person (currently raising a puppy) and don’t have time to write for 8-10 hours a day (plus that would be exhausting, so many feelings!!). Instead I try to pump out as many words as possible within an hour or two. My favourite author Jodi Picoult once said something along the lines of, a page of writing can always be edited, but a blank page can’t. I really agree with this and I highly recommend Fox’s book to help you get started on following a similar process (or internal screaming also helps.)

dakotaBefore I start writing any project, I make sure I have an idea I’m passionate about. I believe in creating top quality products for people who choose to purchase my books, and I don’t think I can deliver the highest quality unless I am very passionate about the book I’m writing. I feel if you write the book that you want to read, then you will find an audience who wants to read it too. Once I have my idea ready to go, I start to do an outline of the characters. I begin to imagine who they are, what their interests, dreams, hopes, aspirations are, and how they are going to develop and fit the narrative I am writing. I try to imagine my characters like real people, and when I’m writing them, I feel like the words I’m putting on the page are truly how they would react if the situation was real. This is also a really fun part of the writing process and for me, the characters are really what I love most about my novels/stories.

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My two current novels Chasing Paper Cranes and Keeping Long Island had characters that I very much loved, and I am sure I will feel the same for other characters in future books as well. After that, I start to try and piece together a rough timeline of the story I am going to tell, names, places, dates, even irrelevant information that might not actually be in the story. It’s all still important to me, as I feel it helps shape the characters and pull everything together. Once I have all these in place, I have my story guide in my head, and I’m ready to start writing.

pillowthoughtsWriting poetry books isn’t as an intense writing process for me. My poetry books Pillow Thoughts and The Road Between are based off personal experiences but also experiences I have witnessed of other people. In fact, I tend to “get into character” when I am writing poetry books sometimes, as it helps me imagine what someone who is “heartbroken” may feel like. I’ve experienced heartbreak (naturally) myself, but where I am in my life currently, is very in love so it’s often hard for me to write about pain when I am happy. However, I think this is really good for developing my writing skills, so poetry is important to me as well.

I started as a self-published author, and over the last year I have had some amazing opportunities that were a combination of mine, and my business partner’s efforts, as well as some great exposure. We have worked hard on (slowly) building my brand of books (still striving to build this every day, but it’s exciting and half the fun and drive to keep going) and I have been blessed with some attention to my writing via readers and also The Chainsmokers which lead to my eventual publishing deal with Andrews McMeel Publishing.

FullSizeRender (2)I am really looking forward to continuing my career and working as hard as I can to give readers books that mean something to them and make them feel as though either they can achieve their own writing dreams, or just that there are others in the world who relate to the feelings they have every day. In my spare time, I am very family orientated, and very close with my family. Plus, I am always with my dogs Hero (German Shepherd) and Dakota (Pomeranian / probable tiny gremlin) or looking up new places to grab coffee with my partner Rhian. She’s actually a huge source of inspiration for me. Most readers find me/my books after reading a poem called Looking for Ice Cream which is for and based on Rhian. I really enjoyed seeing how different people from all walks of life related to that poem, as it drove home something I am trying to achieve in my writing which is that LGBTQ couples can live happy, healthy and normal lives like everyone else. We experience love, pain, loss and gain all the same.

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So that’s me, I’m generally a pretty quiet sort of person but I do like a good chat about feelings ha! I also will probably cross an ocean to meet someone’s dog, so if I am to have signings one day, you should definitely ask if you can bring your four-legged friend. I hope to interact with my readers more over time, either via Twitter, Instagram or email. I love hearing from people because I always find it interesting which stories/poems/books of mine people relate to most. Special thanks to Ariana for letting me post on her blog, she wrote such a lovely review for both my poetry books, that I even showed my Mum.

Thanks again and love to all,

Courtney