#NationalPoetryMonth Book Review: Love In Between by Mercy Jane Ballesteros

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Written in vignette-style sections and sonnet-like eloquence, “Love In Between” showcases strong writing from a young author who also makes a statement about young love being very real, and practically unavoidable.

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With themes of young love, unrequited love, and torturous heartbreak, even loving someone who pines for someone else, Mercy’s poetry gives me still the same “you aren’t alone,” calm sensation that I have while reading the work of International best-sellers like Lang Leav.

Mercy’s poetry overall will leave you falling in love with the writer behind the few but powerful words.

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CALLING ALL POETS and MICROPOETS! April is National Poetry Month and as always, I celebrate all month long by showcasing a new poem every day on my social media pages and by reviewing primarily poetry books all month long. So if you are a poet who knows it, and you have a book already out or about to come out, please email me by March 26, 2018 to be featured for the month of April. And yes, you get to skip the wait list line for free due to the high demand!

Send me your poetry graphics, Instagram poet recommendations, and poetry book review requests to wittywriterpoet26@gmail.com

So much love,

The Smart Cookie

 

 

Happy Birthday to The Smart Cookie Philes!

Today, we are two years old. Wow, how fast time flies!

Some people are unaware of the origins of this site and how it came to be so I figured it was appropriate to share the birth story of The Smart Cookie.

Not being able to find a job once out of college was part of it.

Not being able to find a job that was my dream job and also accepted all of my idiosyncrasies was also part of it.

The Smart Cookie Philes was born on MLK day 2016 because like the GREAT changemaker, I too had a dream, and it wasn’t one dimensional or going to be abc-123 easy to achieve.

So I decided that the right opportunity doesn’t wait for no man, so I created the opportunity for me and many others.

To the untrained eye, this looks like a simple book blog and that was the original intention behind it.

Yet, I am a vivacious reader who also loves everything that music does for it’s listener. How it soothes the soul, makes you feel less alone, and connects people.

I realized then that books and music both connect people in similar ways even though they are entirely different mediums, they both start from the same origin: out of the heart and mind of a creative soul who wants to affect change some how some way in a wave, in a ripple, in a surge of hope.

Yet, I also wanted this to be a site where all people not just writers and musicians could feel welcome because society really provides a heavy load with it’s labels and pressures if you don’t exactly mirror every other person that has gone before you.

So this is a community for the rejects, for the weirdos, for the over-caffeinated writer who grew up too shy to do anything but vivaciously read and learn all the lyrics to their favorite songs and yet, had trouble finding solace and acceptance among those in their peer group.

This is a community for those who decide to dare to be different and are unafraid and unashamed to walk a path not yet walked so that by chance, they can lead the way for others who come after who feel the same way.

This is a community for those who become a part of it to ESPRESSO THEMSELVES however that looks no matter what because we only get one life and we should live it in the most genuine and authentic way we know.

Here at The Smart Cookie Philes we are all smart, strong, and enough. After all, when it comes to cookies, flavors and variety always makes for a more delicious experience overall.

THANK YOU for your continued support of my dream and the beautiful works of others.

Here’s to more years being exactly who you were meant to be and expressing yourself authentically.

So much love,

Chelsea DeVries

Creator of The Smart Cookie Philes

Never miss a crumb of the action by subscribing to my email newsletter That’s The Way The Cookie Crumbles.

 

 

#NationalPoetryMonth .@langleav’s poetry is a siren song for good in #Lullabies

Lang Leav returns with a second book of poetry that is made to sit beside your bed on the nightstand almost like a sort of dream-catcher to sing you to sleep when sleep is hard to come by.

Lullabies showcases a stronger writer as Leav’s poetry in this collection is very melancholy but highly emotive.

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One of my favorites in this collection is Her Words because it is a poem about a girl who writes, need I say more.

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#NationalPoetryMonth .@LangLeav ‘s #loveandmisadventure is a siren song for love lost and the hope of a future love that lasts

When I was a junior in college, I finally had my own room for the first time in my life.

Naturally, I was excited for how I would decorate my sacred dwelling since the choice was solely mine.

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I decided I wanted to have a poetry wall in one corner of my room and who’s poetry was showcased along the long wall near my door but the Tumblr poet, Lang Leav. Soon after this, I found out she was publishing her first poetry book and I was totally stoked for her as I had followed her literary career from the ground up.

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Boasting hand-drawn artwork and poetry from the author, Love & Misadventure is a book anyone who is hopeful for love despite all their misadventures and mistakes in love should own, and wants to reminisce every emotion that entails.

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#NationalPoetryMonth: Don’t Resist the Rebellion that engulfs you while reading Nikita Gill’s #WildEmbers

I admit to Instagram stalking Nikita Gill and her poetry.

The first time I ever read a poem by Ms. Gill I was in awe.

Then, a few months later, NetGalley sent me an email blast to tease new books

Normally, I delete them without reading because I have a queue of 80 books, do I really need anymore books?

The voice in my head always whispers, “Yes!”

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This time I was glad I opened it as I had the chance to read Nikita Gill’s book Wild Embers.

Since this National Poetry Month, I figured this was the perfect time to share my review and reaction to Wild Embers.

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Basically, it is a well-rounded book of poetry. There was only like five poems I did not read but skim so that to me says that the sparks I was ingesting lit a fire within me that I felt the burn within each sinew of my bones.

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And I remembered my identity: a supernova burning bright to discover pathways and planets uncharted, in order to make a new way for those that come after me.

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My absolute favorite poem in the collection was this one because it made me cry which sometimes leads to a clearer perspective:

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With Rupi Kaur’s second poetry collection, she is the Sun and we, her flowers #NationalPoetryMonth

I’ll be honest, I’m not Rupi Kaur’s biggest fan

BUT

I definitely came around to seeing her talent more so with her second poetry collection The Sun and Her Flowers

With this collection, Rupi discusses some of the relationship she delved into in Milk and Honey but in more of a metaphorical way with talking between the lines about the aftershocks of love (especially love that doesn’t last) instead of a literal way with imagery of sex.

It is apparent that Kaur believes sex equals love in some shape or form, but she does do a fantastic job of discussing society’s perception of using sex to get someone to love you, when they are all wrong for you.

Discussed in this poetry collection are themes of love, grief, self-abandonment, honoring one’s roots, and empowering oneself.

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My favorite poem in the entire collection was “What Love Looks Like” because of the word choice Kaur uses to poetic describe love by using dialogue she may or may have actually had within the walls of a therapist’s office.

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So many women have daddy issues because their dad didn’t give them love in a healthy way which makes young girls go out for looking for love in all the wrong faces, and almost becoming society’s biggest joke because of it.

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Love sometimes gives us all rose-colored glasses but the worst part of heartbreak is having to remove them and come to terms with the reality that you fell in love with an idea of someone who didn’t really exist. And that hurts you more than them because you almost feel as though you can’t trust your own judgement anymore for a while.

 

 

 

#MusicReview: Skillet’s Girl Drummer Jen Ledger steps out and has something to say with new six song EP

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Known for her unique vocals and powerful stage presence, Ledger has been working ardently in preparation for her solo launch, enlisting the talent of Skillet’s Korey Cooper along with GRAMMY Award winning songwriter and producer Seth Mosley to produce the six-song project.

 

Ledger co-wrote each of the songs on the project from a raw and vulnerable place, inspired by her own personal experiences with love, heartache, anxiety and “the fight – to not let these things hold us back and stop us from living.” As her cardinal endeavor, LEDGER is a collection of songs that personify the tension between fear and boldness. [To listen to the entire EP, click the hyperlinked name above]

Song By Song Review

I’m Not Dead Yet: With trademark versatile Christian heavy rock musicality and powerhouse vocals, Ledger is screaming for the enemy to realize every tactic that he brings against her is not valid, and challenges him with a fiery chorus and anthem like lyrics:

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Jen has said the song is about overcoming one’s hardest challenges and showing the world that you are strong. She wrote this because of the anxiety and panic attacks that had suddenly started happening to her in the past few years.

Warrior ft. John Cooper: 

The musicality and figher-like anthems on this album make it a great accompaniment for any workout or just a pump up song before doing something you thought you could never possibly do. Remember, you can do all things through Christ, friend!

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Bold: My favorite song on the album because I feel it fits who I am as a person and all I relate to the lyrics about remembering who my identity is in, and that I am called to be bold in Him:

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Foreigner: A song that details that feeling of not belonging that follows those within the faith because many are called but few are chosen. It’s because this Earth is only a temporary dwelling while heaven is our home.

Ruins: A piano ballad that showcases how broken you feel when a love ends, and the heartache that sets in after that, and how we must bring our ruins to the one who mends them back together.

Iconic: A rock ballad that will shake you from head to toe about how God’s love shakes you up for the better, and his love is practically so unthinkable it is iconic.

All in all, I am honored to have the chance to listen to Ledger because it encapsulates every moment within my faith journey where I had to decide if I was going to give into fear or continue the fight.

Ledger EP is available everywhere today April 13. Pick it up if you need an empowering pick-me-up.

 

#NationalPoetryMonth: La La Love by Katie Lewington Book Review

Subjectivity is poetry’s secret talent. Whether or not you find the words on the paper poetry, if a poet labels it poetry, no one can argue that it isn’t because poetry unlike fiction is more for the free-spirited and those who are exploring it’s free range in the field of writing.

For example, my favorite poet is Lang Leav and my sisters are die-hard Rupi Kaur fans.

Poetry has to use the right combination of imagery and emotion, and has to make me feel like I read something that was between the lines on the page. Few people can achieve the knock me off my feet feeling with their poetry but for me, Lang Leav comes pretty darn close.

With La La Love, Katie Lewington is in a league all her own. All poems within the chapbook showcase the different levels of vulnerability love unravels in us as we experience it within a relationship or develop the feelings.

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Picture this was one of my favorites because it reads like a spoken word poem. It has rhythm, cadence, and an overall musicality that could be performed. This also further proved that Lewington’s talent for poetry was multi-faceted, and although her book was themed with love poems, she could have you in a crowded pub or restaurant aware of every sound or gesture made by the people that were inhabiting the space between the walls.

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Katie Lewington was recently featured in a poetry anthology called

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It is a book of mental health themed poetry with proceeds that are going toward the mental health charity out of the UK, Mind. Click the image above in order to purchase the anthology.

 

#NationalPoetryMonth: An interview with Poet and Author, Mercy Jane Ballesteros

Today, I sit down and ask a few quick questions of poet and author Mercy Jane Ballesteros, she is the author of recently reviewed “Love In Between” which you can check out more about here.

How did you realize your love of writing?

Mercy: I started writing at the age of seven and from then on it has been my passion as well as a part of my life.

I noticed that you are only 21 years young. As someone who published her first two novels myself while still in high school, what motivates you to be so young and ambitious? Did you notice that people criticized you for being young and published?

 

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What inspires the writings in Love In Between?

Mercy: Most of the short stories are about my experiences since I got sick at thirteen and through writing I can pour out my emotions best. I am a homeschooled student since 2010 and I seldom go out so whenever I meet someone I will write poems about them or may it be songs as long as I am inspired it [and] it comes naturally.  

I noticed even your short stories read like poetry because they are so eloquent in word choice and syntax. What do you love writing more: poetry or prose?

Mercy: Poetry. I love writing it better than prose. 

What inspired “The Last Days of My Life” piece within Love In Between?

I fell into depression and got sick at thirteen. I wrote that as if I was going to die due to the agony I felt but “The Last Days of My Life” also narrates how I accepted my illness and I know that I am loved, and I am satisfied of what was given to me.

You are currently studying Marketing in college. What are your goals with your degree once you complete it?

Mercy: I am on my 4th year and will graduate on 2019. I am a stock market and foreign exchange trader, so I will continue to trade and seek investors for my future company. I will also focus on my writing career and continue improving my writing style. 

Would you say being from the Philippines finds its way into the heart of your work?

Mercy: Yes. My country is my pride.

If you could chat with one person living or dead, who would it be and why?

Mercy: My Dear Lord Jesus Christ. He gave me life and loved me unconditionally. He is my guide, my light. He never left my side. I love My Lord. 

Do you have any other books out or projects forthcoming? How can readers connect with you best?

I am currently writing another novel and an autobiography. Through the books I’ve written, I wanted to inspire the readers by stories that would captivate their hearts. With every word perceived, the reader and I, somehow, we have and through those pages, met.

Any advice for a young amateur or someone who has an idea but isn’t sure it will survive the cutthroat market?

Every successful person will advise every dreamer to never give up, never give in and never let go. I may not be successful yet, but If I were to ready someone I would utter the same words as I believe that success begins with a fellow’s will.

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#In60Learning Reviews: Books that have you smarter in one hour? Yay or Nay?

60 minutes is all I was told it would take to read the books offered to me that share facts on historical figures and topics.

The two I managed to read contained viable information but it only took me about half an hour to read each book.

Greek MythologyIvan The Terrible

These books make for great references but are not good reading unless you enjoy reading biographies for leisure.

They left me feeling like I learned something but reading felt like more than a chore.

For more on In60Learning, please visit: their website.

 

 

 

 

 

Toxins in our Food? Tell me more. #BookReview: Food Forensics by Mike Adams

I don’t know about you but one thing I never realized was what was actually in my food. Read any ingredients label and you find some strange terminology. Even organic products are always 100% natural.

This caused me to want to read Food Forensics by Mike Adams.

Despite the textbook-like feel of this book (which the author warns you on from the first page) there is a lot of information that anyone would and should be aware of especially those who are trying to eat cleaner.

  • For example, did you know there is ARSENIC in most brand name apple juices?

Dr. Oz is even noted within this book as showcasing it on his show a study he did that revealed this somewhat disturbing truth.

  • Mercury is a key ingredient used in CFL flourescent light bulbs.
  • One fact that I directly was intrigued by is the hidden way aspartame appears in food under the name phenylalanine. It is fine in small doses but too much can lead to chemical imbalances in the body over time which leads to a decrease in the body’s amount of serotonin. Serotonin affects moods and also regulates sleep, appetite, and muscle contractions, and it even affects memory and learning abilities.

Despite the science and nutritional jargon, this book was incredibly in-depth and could be used as a reference for anyone who really wants to know what’s in your food. Chances are though, if you didn’t read Fast Food Nation like I did in high school, you won’t read this.

Sometimes ignorance is bliss until it makes you sick.