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“April…In Pieces: Seven Sisters Writing on Covid and Cancer” – a review & giveaway!

Did you know April is National Poetry Month? It is indeed. I have great admiration for those who write poetry. Putting ideas, feelings, stories, experiences or whatever into words for an essay or blog post is one thing. Doing the same in a far more succinct way via poetry, is quite another.

This is one reason I’m excited to tell you about a new book of poems titled, April…In Pieces: Seven Sisters Writing on Covid and Cancer, by Lisa Valentine. Independently published November, 2020; 51 pages. $8.99 (paperback). Available on Amazon (Click above link or on image below.)

April...In Pieces:  Seven Sisters Writing on Covid and Cancer - A review & giveaway! #bookreviews #books #breastcancer #pandemic

One of those seven sisters is fellow blogger and online friend, Lisa Valentine. Lisa blogs at Habitual Gratitude. (Be sure to check it out.)

The other sisters who collaborated for this book are: Danita Watson, Aileen Holthaus, Ann Holthaus, Leonice Holthaus, Zita Bruess and Ruth Busta. April..In Pieces is their first book.

April…In Pieces is dedicated to another sister, Mary Jo, and everyone affected by Covid-19 and cancer. Mary Jo died June 16, 2019 from metastatic breast cancer, nearly 13 years after her initial diagnosis.

April...In Pieces:  Seven Sisters Writing on Covid and Cancer - A review & giveaway! #bookreviews #books #breastcancer #pandemic
The seven sisters – taken at Mary Jo’s celebration of life memorial service.

Covid-19 barged into our lives spring of 2020 impacting the entire world. Suddenly, we were told to stay home, to practice social distancing, to wear a mask and to more or less, wait it out. At that time, vaccines seemed, and were, far off.

We all faced that challenging time in different ways. One way seven sisters with Iowa roots dealt with the uncertainty was through writing.

In April 2020, the seven sisters challenged themselves to write a poem a day.

That’s how April…In Pieces came to be.

Pretty amazing, right?

April…In Pieces is a collection of some of those poems written during that challenging spring. Each sister’s contribution is personal and unique.

The book is divided into three sections of poems, each section poignantly introduced. Here’s snippet from each introduction:

Part 1, “Shattered

Like fragile glass, normal was shattered into hundreds of pieces in March and April of 2020 as Covid-19 crashed into our lives.

What a perfect analogy, don’t you agree?

Part 2, “Battered”

Since 2004, cancer has been stark reality for five of us. Each diagnosis has battered our sisterhood, but somehow it has also strengthened our bonds…As we entered the pandemic world of Zoom meetings, another sister, Aileen, heard the dreaded, you have cancer.

Five cancer diagnoses among these siblings. That’s a lot of battering.

Part 3, “Sustained”

The pandemic and cancer are daunting, but we are also sustained by powerful forces. Our upbringing fortifies us…We now hail from five states and have hundreds of miles between us, but Nature has always unified and nurtured us.

Iowa roots and strong bonds with one another and Mother Nature help keep these amazing siblings sustained through good times and bad.

The best way for you to get a flavor of what this special book is like, of course, is to share a few poems. So, I picked one from each section. Enjoy!

From “Shattered”

Lockdownby Lisa

Mom is on lockdown

at the nursing home.

No visitors, only calls.

Mom’s body and mind

locked down

by dementia.

Nobody is getting in anymore.

It’s too late.

From “Battered”

A Little Cancer Thingby Aileen

In the swirl

of a global pandemic

economic meltdown


red alert!

red alert!

hesitant to mention

this little cancer thing

my body


icky cells

can’t social distance

from myself

or quarantine

my insides.

Only wish

this little cancer thing

wasn’t true.

From “Sustained”

And Repeatby Danita

There’s the sun,


Up every day

like me.

Rise and shine.

Those are just three examples by three of the seven sisters who contributed to this lovely collection of poems.

Though shattered by the upheaval of the pandemic and battered by cancer, these amazing seven sisters were sustained by writing, sisterhood and love.

I cannot recommend April…In Pieces enough. Upon finishing it, I wanted to read more. (How many books, poetry or otherwise, can you say that about?)

You will too!

Never underestimate the value of writing to help you find your way.

Perhaps challenge yourself to finish that story, start journaling again or write a poem!

But first, be sure to enter my giveaway for a chance to win a FREE copy of April…In Pieces. I’m giving away two FREE copies!

All you have to do is comment below by 5 pm CT on Tuesday, April 20. State that you want to enter my giveaway, and you’re in! U.S. mailing address is required.

Winners will be announced via this post shortly thereafter.

Be sure to follow Lisa on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and, of course, be sure to check out her blog, Habitual Gratitude.

Would you like to enter this giveaway?

Have you ever turned to writing (any form) to help you cope?

Last, but not least, check out Lisa’s two posts she generously wrote for Nancy’s Point:

I’m Still Standing, A #MetsMonday Featured Post

The Sum of All My Parts, A Guest Post on Feminism, Breast Cancer Awareness & More

April...In Pieces:  Seven Sisters Writing on Covid and Cancer - A review & giveaway! #bookreviews #books #breastcancer #pandemic

Mary Beth Hamel

Sunday 18th of April 2021

I have been following your blog for awhile. I am a 10 yr Survivior. I would love to be entered into your contest. This book sounds amazing.

Barbra Tugman

Sunday 18th of April 2021

I so admire everyone who writes about how they feel and cope with their cancer. This book looks amazing! I love reading your blogs Nancy. I am a triple negative breast cancer 11 year survivor. I would love to win a copy of this beautiful book. Thank you and be well. Best, Barbra Tugman

Janet Juarez

Sunday 18th of April 2021

Hello Nancy & all cancer Survivors, Warriors, prayer Warriors. Including myself Stage111C Inflammatory breast cancer. Debilitated but God has Me here & for that I am Grateful. My eldest Son Stephen R.I.P. passed on 2-24-09, from horrendous colon cancer he would have been 40. I miss Him everyday & love my Son R.I.P. I would love to win a copy of the book of Poems by these Wonderful Sisters. Bless their hearts. May God bless & be with All of us. Thank you very much, Nancy

Sheryl K

Sunday 18th of April 2021

I truly admire those who are able to write about how they feel in the way of poetry. I myself am a survivor of both ovarian and breast cancer. Although the breast cancer was found early, surgery and treatment were during the coronavirus. I would love to be part of your giveaway ✨❤️

Lisa Valentine

Friday 16th of April 2021

My sisters and I thank you for your thoughtful review of our book Nancy! We have many forms of collaboration familiar to us as sisters, but never thought we would publish a book of poetry together. Mary Jo wrote poems too and she would have loved this idea. To write is to honor our individual and collective stories. Write on!


Tuesday 20th of April 2021

Lisa, Reviewing your wonderful book of poems was my pleasure. Hope there are more books to come!

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