Shealea reacts to: Pillow Thoughts by Courtney Peppernell

Title: Pillow Thoughts
Author: Courtney Peppernell
Genre: Poetry
Copy: Digital

* More about the book.
* More about the author.
* Purchase via Amazon or The Book Depository. No, don’t even bother.

Official synopsis:

Pillow Thoughts is a collection of poetry and prose about heartbreak, love and raw emotions. It is divided into sections to read when you feel you need them most. Make a cup of tea and let yourself feel.


Before anything else, a full disclosure: I was supposed to participate in a promotional blog tour for this book, which is why I received a copy of it. However, as evidenced by my star rating, I most certainly did not enjoy reading it, and as such, I decided to forfeit my slot in the tour. Still, many thanks to my friend, Rafael from The Royal Polar Bear Reads, for providing a review copy.

All right, give me some much needed space to rant about how awful this collection is. Seriously, how this book was able to receive numerous positively glowing reviews is beyond the capacity of my comprehension.

First of all, I would never, in a million years, classify any of the pieces in Pillow Thoughts as poetry. Never ever. Why? Poetry is defined as, according to this particular dictionary, “the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts”. Were any of the compositions rhythmical? Nope. Beautiful? Nope. Imaginative? Nope. At the very least, were the thoughts expressed in the pieces elevated? Let me answer by quoting an actual “poem” from the collection:

in the end
as in you and me
were never
meant to be

I can’t be the only one who cringed, yes? But I digress.

Reading Pillow Thoughts felt like reading a poorly written self-help book that was given to me as a last-minute Christmas gift by an extremely distant, poetically illiterate aunt. Most of the pieces utilized plain language without an ounce of figurative speech, allusions or vivid imagery. Everything was expressed in such a straightforward manner that the supposed “poetry” lost the lyrical essence poems are supposed to have. Instead of evocative verses and thoughtful stanzas, the collection offered ridiculously watered down metaphors that weren’t even cohesive with each other. It seemed like they were sprinkled over the text without much thought or larger purpose. Furthermore, the ideas and emotional sentiments were presented in a very superficial way, which consequently led to content that had an extremely generic and shallow feel.

Structure-wise, the pieces basically consisted of awful segmented sentences. I could not identify any semblance of rhythm or deliberate metering in the way the verses were constructed. More often than not, it was as if the author just kept randomly hitting the “enter” button on the keyboard in order to force the text to form the framework of poems. But here’s the thing, okay:

Making your sentences
look like this
on paper
does not necessarily
make poetry
or any kind of literary work
that’s worth reading
to be honest.

Some of the poems were even written in this way.
Each stanza was a collection of punctuated sentences.
These sentences were separated into different lines to look like verses.
Just as how I’m typing this review right now.
Are you fucking kidding me?

Would you care for a few examples? Yes? Okay, hold on. Let me scavenge some trash from 260 bloody pages I actually wasted my time on.

Exhibit A:

You remind me that my heart is still alive
Because every time you come home
it beats so hard
it brings me back to life


Exhibit B:

Sometimes I wonder of all the goodbyes you’ve ever said, if
mine is the one you can’t get out of your head.


Yes, please do feed us more generic and blatantly shallow lines.

Exhibit C:

I never really knew how much the heart breaks
until I was lying next to you
and you were thinking about someone else


Am I the only one who realizes that this is just one chopped up sentence?

Exhibit D:

Of all the maps in the world, the only one I will follow is the map to your heart.


Not entirely sure if legitimate poem or awfully cheesy Hallmark card.

And my frustration (and unreserved anger) does not end there! Another problem I had with Pillow Thoughts is the fact that the themes tackled by the book were repetitive and annoyingly circular. I honestly don’t understand why anyone bothered to categorize the pieces into different sections because they overlapped one another and practically talked about the same things. What’s the point, really?

Truth be told, I can probably go on and on about how mediocre and embarrassing this literary monstrosity is because God knows I never thought I’d ever find a poetry book that I would end up loathing more than the collections written by Lang Leav. However, there are much more important things for me to accomplish than to waste so many words on a book that shouldn’t even warrant any positive attention. To summarize everything, Pillow Thoughts is a portfolio of generic content framed using totally obsolete structures. Structurally, it’s atrocious. Lyrically, it’s atrocious. Stylistically, it’s atrocious. Perhaps the only remotely positive thing I can say is that I am incredibly blessed to have received only a digital copy of this book; otherwise, had I been given a physical copy, I would have grieved for the trees that died and ultimately lost my shit altogether.

Allow me to formally end this review by highlighting the most ridiculously awful passage I’ve ever encountered in my life:

I asked you to ride shotgun with me.
I didn’t say hold the shotgun to my heart and
pull the trigger.


I shit you not, people.

Excerpt from the book:

I know there isn’t a thing
I could say
to make the thoughts in your head
any easier
but I hope you know
that above all the things
running through your head
sometimes it’s about
what runs in your heart instead
and if there’s anything I know
about the things inside
your heart
it’s that they are beautiful things
and strong things
and things that will always
be okay
and if the things in your head
seem a little messy
and the things in your heart
weigh a little heavy
just know that you’ll beat
all of these things
and I’ll always love you
even with all your things

Review also available: Goodreads

Final disclosure:

This initially started off as a regular book review; however, with the (still) increasing amount of rage I have, my critique quickly escalated into an informal rant. Halfway through writing this, I realized that Pillow Thoughts was the perfect candidate for my first ever Shealea reacts post. I opted against altering the post’s structure into something that’s more like a discussion or informal commentary because 1) that would have taken a substantial amount of effort I don’t have, and 2) this book does not deserve that much effort from me to begin with.


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First of her name. Queen of millennials and the constantly caffeinated. Protector of books. Breaker of norms. Iskolar ng bayan.

12 thoughts on “Shealea reacts to: Pillow Thoughts by Courtney Peppernell”

  1. I am sorry
    for the
    this book has caused you
    you read it so
    I don’t have to
    and I snorted
    so hard
    “I would have grieved for the trees that died”

    The heart of minimalism is that every piece that exists gains meaning from its sparsity. That is the difference between the sort of drivel you reviewed here and art, IMO. (And why most authors benefit from ruthless editing!)

    Enjoyed your review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re absolutely welcome. Just taking one for the team and the rest of humanity, tbh. 😂 I can’t seem to find modern poetry that I can fully connect with. Would you happen to have any recommendations? 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Unfortunately, I don’t… I’m a grumpy curmudgeon who thinks the downfall of modern poetry began with “The Red Wheelbarrow” and we’ve forgotten how to write anything good since then* because we’ve confused formatting with meter and rhyme. I’d suggest that it’s largely because we started reading poetry from the page to ourselves rather than reciting it to others.

        Poetry is meant to be read aloud (preferably to someone being wooed). Just try reading out loud anything you quote from this book above. (NB: please don’t do this in public, both to prevent exposure of others to this schlock and to keep your reputation as a sane person in good standing!) And then read something good out loud, like this favorite of mine:

        “But there, alas, where arching skies
        Forever sparkle blue and deep,
        Where olive shade on water lies
        You’re sleeping now the final sleep.
        Your beauty, suffering, and bliss
        Have disappeared along with you
        And with them now our promised kiss–
        But still I wait; it still is due.”
        — Alexander Pushkin, translated by James Falen (feel free to read Pushkin out loud any time, anywhere; it’s a public service)

        The spoken word suggests the format in the Pushkin, where the Peppernell never arises beyond an amorphous blob of words, even when the format tortures the diction into .

        I have much the same requirement for poetry that you do; the power of poetry is the meter, and the intellectual appeal and beauty of it is how the poet works within the limitations of the format.

        TL;DR: I’m no help with recommendations and prone to long monologues grousing about what the kids like today. 😉

        * In reality, the modern poetry that I do connect with is in music. Most of our best poets set their works to guitars and keyboards these days! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. LMAO I’m so glad I didn’t request this for review. This is why I can’t get with some trendy poetry books out there (although there are many good ones that I have loved!) because some of them just butcher sentences to make verses and noooo that is not how poetry is supposed to work. I met an award-winning poet from Singapore last year and he described poetry as having rhythm and depth like music. I agree with him.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, yes! What makes poetry, well, poetry isn’t its capacity to evoke emotion but its usage and arrangement of elevated language to create rhythm and to offer depth, thereby stirring thought and feeling! I’ve been underwhelmed and disappointed by a lot of “modern” poetry lately. I get that many writers are starting to prefer adopting minimalism into their writing style, but my god, respect the art! What is it with these awful, cringe-y and embarassingly generic two or three-liners that make up an entire ‘poem’?

      I’m sorry for ranting. I write poems myself, so this is a pretty touchy topic for me. Needless to say, not requesting this ARC is definitely not a loss on your part! In fact, I’ve already deleted it from my library.


  3. OMG!! You made my day!

    I absolutely agree with your definition of poetry. I feel that most so-called ‘poetry’ today is just prose or ‘posey’ chopped up into chunks to resemble poetry. I’ve posted about it before and have gotten into heated discussions about it with online ‘poets’. I do believe that it comes down to personal esthetics, but feel that if it doesn’t fit the definition then it isn’t poetry. And if it isn’t poetry…don’t chop it up. Leave it as the posey you wrote and be fine with it.

    My favorite line was: “Perhaps the only remotely positive thing I can say is that I am incredibly blessed to have received only a digital copy of this book; otherwise, had I been given a physical copy, I would have grieved for the trees that died and ultimately lost my shit altogether.”

    Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, exactly! I’m glad to have someone share the same sentiments. If it’s all right with you, it’d be awesome to read your post regarding this so send me the link! I’m curious to see what arguments these ‘poets’ presented.

      And aww, thank you! I’m pretty proud of that line myself. 😊


  4. Poetry is like any art form – its impact is individual and personal, so if a poem means something to someone, that’s all that matters. (Having said that, I’d have to agree with your interpretation!)


    1. I’d have to respectfully disagree with “if a poem means something to someone, that’s all that matters.” But I do understand where you’re coming from. Thank you for the comment!


    1. Aww, thanks! I try. 😉 Seriously though, it continues to boggle my mind how this collection has been receiving incredibly high ratings. I’m not sure if these people have lost their minds or their standards, but I’m sure it’s one of the two. 😂

      Liked by 1 person

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