book reviews, spoiler free

Somebody Give This Heart A Pen

Book Review

45998211._SY475_Somebody Give This Heart A Pen by Sophia Thakur

Published October 3rd 2019  by Walker Books

Rating: XXXX

“Do I plan ahead or ride the wave
Does the world belong to the rich or the brave
How often did you inner circle change
What happens to the secrets you gave.”

From acclaimed performance poet Sophia Thakur comes a powerful new collection of poems exploring issues of identity, difference, perseverance, relationships, fear, loss and joy. The collection is arranged as life is: from youth to school, to home life, falling in love and falling straight back out again. The poems draw on the author’s experience as a young mixed-race young woman trying to make sense of a lonely and complicated world. With a strong narrative voice and emotional empathy, this is poetry that will resonate with all young people, whatever their background, and whatever their dreams. As she says, she hopes the poems will help readers “grow through what they go through”.

I don’t read an awful lot of poetry and I’m not even close to well versed in the subject but it is something I enjoy now and again. Something about the title of Sophia Thakur’s “This Heart Needs a Pen” just jumped out at me and I was pleased to be given a chance to receive an early review copy from Walker Books in exchange for an honest review.

I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting, a lot of the poetry I have read tends to be either Sylvia Plath, Rupi Kar, Amanda Lovelace and Lang Leav, the last three tend to have a very particular style they all share and Lovelace and Leav have a lot of romance themed poems which are nice but sometimes I just want a happy poem about clouds you know? Somebody Give This Heart a Pen is split into five chapters of sorts, the first of which is …process and consists of just one poem that feels kind of like a foreword of sorts about how Sophia writes her poetry, it’s a beautiful and inspiring piece.

The next chapter is Grow, followed by Wait, Break, and Grow Again with each section having a particular feel to it which I enjoyed. Somebody Give This Heart A Pen hits on so many issues, race, gender, childhood, adulthood, love, children, finding your way and I will include a content warning for self-harm in regards to a poem called “cutting” which was one that heavily struck a chord with me. Grandma can you hear me and Girl, you better sing were two of my favourites as I really connected with them and found I went back and read them again when I finished the book and I’m sure I’ll be reading them again.

There are so many varied styles and topics that I think this is a book that will have something for most people, I will definitely be looking for more of Sophia’s work.




book reviews, spoiler free

A Pocketful of Crows – Spoiler Free Review

34913762A Pocketful of Crows by Joanne Harris
Illustrations by Bonnie Helen Hawkins
Audiobook read by Joanne Harris

Rating: XXXXX

Published October 19th 2017 by Gollancz

“If only I had patience. If only I could sleep till spring. If only I were the hawthorn tree, too old to love, too wise to hate.”

I am as brown as brown can be,
And my eyes as black as sloe;
I am as brisk as brisk can be,
And wild as forest doe.
(The Child Ballads, 295)

So begins a beautiful tale of love, loss and revenge. Following the seasons, A Pocketful of Crows balances youth and age, wisdom and passion and draws on nature and folklore to weave a stunning modern mythology around a nameless wild girl.
Only love could draw her into the world of named, tamed things. And it seems only revenge will be powerful enough to let her escape.
Beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is a stunning and original modern fairytale.

In the run-up to the release of the beautiful “The Blue Salt Road” (Out this Thursday, November 15th) which although not a direct sequel to A Pocketful of Crows is also based around a Child Ballad poem and is full of the same beautiful illustrations and wonderful, whimsical writing. Not to mention this book this book is a perfect Autumn read and we are well into the season of crunchy leaves, knitted cardigans, scarves and magic by now.

Although I read this last year I’m rereading this now in the form of the captivating audiobook read by Joanne Harris herself. I love good audiobooks and this one is so exception, the joy of listening to a book narrated by the author themselves is you can hear how it was meant to be read, obviously everything is open to interpretation but there’s just something exceedingly special and magical listening to the words in the way they sound to the author themselves creating a whole other level of storytelling harking back to the roots of stories themselves.


A Pocketful of Crows has a magical quality to it, in the story itself and in the telling of it and feels different from almost any other book I’ve read before, it feels old and mysterious and reads like something between a poem, a ballad and a spell. The writing and the language are absolutely beautiful and the story itself would be interesting no matter how it was told but Joanne’s hand has given it an extra flourish that makes it wonderous and allows you to feel the damp earth underfoot, smell the changing of the seasons and hear the sounds of the animals in the forest, it is truly an experience.

Although I primarily listened to the audiobook this read through I did take time to look through the physical book itself once again because the illustrations by Hawkins are simply gorgeous and something about the style and the black and white colouring just really brings them in line with and evokes the style of this new but ancient book.

A short read, the audiobook clocks in at just over four hours and it is a book that can fairly easily be read in one sitting and one I recommend to anyone feeling witchy or like they want to swept up in a magical and mysterious story about a wild girl who refuses to be tamed.