Tag Archives: Psychology

Review & Giveaway: The Mad Ramblings of a Joker by Brandon Dillon

By Brandon Dillon
Publisher: Paper Airplane Publishing
Pub Date: January 24, 2021
Pages: 156 pages
Categories: Poetry / Psychology / PTSD / Veteran Stories

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Poet Brandon Dillon makes his debut with The Mad Ramblings of a Joker, a brutally honest collection full of metaphor and vibrant imagery. His work covers topics such as PTSD, depression, and heartbreak, and softer moments of hope and reflective peace.
His poetry is deep and unforgettable, a beacon for a dark world that needs a friend to say, “I’ve been there. I understand.”

I had a mission when I picked up The Mad Ramblings of a Joker by Brandon Dillon. I have an online friend who is suffering from PTSD, and I wanted to get more insight on what she is experiencing. I didn’t expect to relate to anything within the slim book of poetry, but so much resonated with me. And I think that anyone, man or woman, ex-military or lifelong civilian, can relate to Dillon’s inner thoughts that he so graciously shares on the page.

You would be hard pressed to find someone who has never said one thing when they meant something completely different. A person who doesn’t deliberately hide their feelings because they know that the other person couldn’t handle them, would maybe sit through them uncomfortably, but then sneak away and never return. I think we have all, at one time or another, wondered about the point of this life and wished for something better, to be a better person.

For someone who rambles, Dillon has a delightful symmetry to his writing. Many of his poems have an opening that is echoed, either exactly or slightly altered, in the last stanza. Or a short line is repeated throughout with a different response – sort of like the congregational response part of a church service (but in reverse). Sometimes the poetry is more free form – whole paragraphs of ideas that are too large to be confined by stanzas. And although he flits between time and place, there is a flow from each poem to the next. It made me wonder if Dillon curated his collection before publishing or if this was the natural order they were written in whatever notebook he might have jotted them down in.

I like how open and honest the poems are. Not a shred of pretentiousness that I often detect in collections of poetry. Like the writer remembered all the rules of poetry from school and deliberately applied them while overusing a thesaurus at the same time. Dillon does none of those things and it is a breath of fresh air.

As someone who grew up Christian but now identifies more as a spiritual person who still has questions, I very much identified with the poem “Pointless.” This line in particular hit me hard, “What if I do not want to live forever; what if I do not want to be reborn?” The other poem that I felt a particularly strong connection with was “New Year, New Me.” The message that we shouldn’t make false promises to ourselves but “Instead, look back honestly on your year and build upon the success you have had, and learn from the mistakes you have made…”

While on the topic of mistakes, there were typos in this book that I feel like could have been avoided with some editing. I acknowledge that rambling might break the conventions of punctuation, but the typos and misspellings that are scattered throughout the pages were distracting. (The publisher has a revised version in the works now.)

I don’t keep much poetry on my bookshelf, but this book will definitely have a place in my collection. I have bookmarked several poems that I plan to share with my friend and other poems that I plan to reread and meditate on later. This is the sort of book that I know I will reference later for different seasons in my life or to share with someone else.

Brandon Dillon is an award-winning poet who writes from the soul about his life as a child born into poverty, his travels around the world as a U.S. Marine, love won and love lost, and the trauma that life brings. If you ask him his biggest accomplishments thus far, he will tell you they are the laughter and tears of the audience as he reads his words on the stage for them. He is amazed when people feel his emotion and in turn show him their emotion.
He has twice performed by invitation, reading his poetry at the FASOLT Fine Arts Expo, and has participated twice in “Color: Story,” a collaboration between poets and visual artists, winning first place in 2019. When he is not working or taking care of his two sons, Brandon frequents open mic readings for poetry and all genres of writing with the group Writespace and performs at open mic and slam poetry events with the group Write About Now, at times reading something he just wrote that day.
He is never far from his notebook, fitting his writing in between shifts at work, kids and homework, and sleeping. Brandon lives in Houston, Texas.
Connect with Paper Airplane Publishing:

Autographed copy of The Mad Ramblings of a Joker
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(US only. Ends midnight, CDT, April 26, 2021)


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Between Hurt and Healing by Jackie Melvin

Jackie Melvin

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Tate Publishing
Date of Publication: February 2, 2016
# of pages: 424
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Introverted Denise Staukhill just wanted a quiet life.  She never dreamed she would find a man like Darren Olsen to share it with.  An unexpected tragedy ends their fairy-tale romance, and Denise once again finds herself alone and devastated.



Years later, the handsome head football coach from the local high school and Darren’s best friend, Eric Ortellio, tries desperately to help her find peace.  As their relationship starts to grow, the manipulative Coach Nick Nelson, trying to protect his secretive past, steps in to ruin both of them.



Will Denise and Eric’s friendship sustain the lies and manipulation that the evil Nelson has weaved?  Can Denise find the strength to let go of Darren and hold on to Eric, or will her faithfulness to Darren keep Eric out of her life forever?


Visit the author’s WEBSITE for best pricing
or purchase from:


    Amazon          Tate Publishing


 Denise talking to her twelve-year-old daughter Cissy, about her own mother:



“She loved color in her drawings, bright colors: greens, reds, blues, yellows. All her pictures were happy. She told me when I was your age to take whatever makes you sad and color it in. I guess she just meant that colors are happy and sad is black and white.”



Cissy’s response:


“Maybe that’s what Grandma meant when she said, “color it in.” Celebrations are colorful like birthday balloons and wedding cakes. Funerals are black, and hospitals are white. Funerals are always sad and hospitals can be sad sometimes too. So if you find what makes you sad and color it in, you can be happy.”


Watching the courtship of Denise and Darren unfold makes you forget for a while that Darren is going to die. You get so wrapped up in the great little details of the blossoming relationship and the makeup of each character, you forget that this book is about hurting and healing (yeah, I just went there). You get the feeling that Eric will be the new love interest, but he’s still married. But don’t worry, he doesn’t stay that way. There is nothing that Denise and Eric can do that will make you dislike them. And that is how you know that the evil Nick will not prevail.
I could not put this book down. As despicable as the crimes/scandals Nick sets up for our protagonists, they are all very realistic. And Melvin does an excellent job of showing how the terrible events affect everyone, including the children. Her depiction of the sisters, in particular, I felt were very realistic. Melvin must know some preteen and college-bound girls in real life. My only nitpick about the characters are that the sister names are too similar (Cissy and Cassidy). Kind of a no-no in publishing in my opinion. Every once in a while I had to pause and look back to make sure I was thinking about the correct sister.
I know this is out of left field but it just occurred to me. Eric keeps assuring Denise that he doesn’t expect her to forget about Darren, and that he understands that she will always love her deceased husband. But they don’t discuss Eric’s ex-wife at all. No discussion about the possibility that Eric might have any lingering feelings or that the ex would have issues with the relationship. I don’t know why but that kind of strikes me as odd.
The storyline about no-cutting in school athletics was interesting to me, and I liked Melvin’s use of it throughout the book. It’s not what the book was about at all, but the issue with this touchy subject was the catalyst for all the drama. Having a son about to start sports soon, I personally dislike the everyone is a winner mentality. That trophy he will get at the end of the soccer season? I will probably donate it to Goodwill. But I digress.
Growing up with Texas sports (specifically football), I don’t doubt that there are some shady things going down in the name of having an outstanding sports program and winning. Melvin’s novel manages to be suspenseful and heartwarming at the same time.


Jackie Melvin is a hopeless introvert: hasn’t seen the inside of a movie theater in a decade.  She is despairingly sappy: will cry at commercials, songs and memories.  She is a disheartened housekeeper: good before the kids, great with the kids, now the laundry room doubles as the master closet.  An unexceptional athlete, the weather matters!  A wanna be nutritionist, if only chocolate had nutritional value.   A mediocre musician: been playing the same songs for thirty years.  A happy wife, she married up.  A reluctant empty- nester, miss those kids so much.  And she is a writer: the author of a series of children’s books, and Between Hurt and Healing is her first novel.


She currently lives in Lubbock, Texas with her husband, her dog, and her cat, and spends as much time as possible visiting those kids.

GIVEAWAY! One winner gets signed copies 
of Between Hurt and Healing and 
all of Jackie’s Bartholomew Bear Series


February 22-MARCH 3, 2016

Check out these other great blog stops on the tour!

2/22   Missus Gonzo  – Review
2/23   All for the Love of the Word – Author Interview
2/24   The Crazy Booksellers – Promo
2/25   The Page Unbound  — Review
2/26   Hall Ways Blog – Author Interview
2/27   Books and Broomsticks – Guest Post           
2/29   My Book Fix Blog – Promo
3/1     A Novel Reality  — Author Interview
3/2     The Librarian Talks  — Promo


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