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Let Me Tell You About This Book I Just Read...

Reviewing R.C. Taylor's Chapbook, "Cognitive Dissonance"

By Donna ReneePublished about a year ago 3 min read
Top Story - March 2023
Chapbook Cover from R.C. Taylor's book

When R.C. Taylor reached out to me to offer to send me a copy of her brand new chapbook to read and review, I was so excited! (Also a bit nervous, to be honest, since book reviews are not something I have previously published on Vocal haha)

This book was very kindly gifted to me but this review is my honest opinion.

I've been a reader (and a fan!) of R.C. Taylor's work here on Vocal for awhile now and have especially enjoyed her take on the recent Limerick Challenge. She stretched the prompt creatively and came up with some really thought-provoking and DEEP poetry out of what was pitched as a funny, lighthearted challenge!

So...the chapbook...let's get to it! Any text (other than poem titles) that I am pulling directly from her book will be in blockquotes in this review.

Cognitive Dissonance

a chapbook of serious limericks

...when I first saw the title I was thoroughly intrigued. What I did not expect was that it would perfectly fit the contents (and the emotions) of the book... I have often seen titles that seem to have been chosen solely for how they sound or look. I did not realize that the author actually has a graduate degree in Psychology until I had read the book. Now it makes complete sense!

Cognitive Dissonance subverts the limerick poetry style to capture the discordance of existing in and letting go of an unhealthy relationship.

ooooh...yes, please. I absolutely love the idea of choosing what is usually an amusing poetry form as a base from which to highlight such a difficult and serious theme.

This book does come with a content warning (thanks so much for providing that, by the way!) which I will copy for you to see here before I get into any specifics...

Content Warning: this chapbook contains discussion of emotional abuse, infidelity, and suicidal ideation as well as brief mentions of child abuse and strong language.

This book is a JOURNEY through the stages and phases in a... certain relationship. Starting with the beautiful and lyrical descriptions of early feelings of love and appreciation in the first offering, fugue, through the gut-wrenching choices and revelations in what I wish I did, and "how do you not piss your friends off?" , to the strength of the decisions made in healing is what I choose for me and the disparate feelings in swimming home, the poetry in this book and the accompanying artwork tell a painful and mesmerizing story.

There is love, longing, anger, betrayal, forgiveness, cyclical regret, personal growth, hope... what more could you want?

I certainly don't want to give too much away in this review but I've pulled a few of my absolute favorite lines and images from a few of the 20 poems that form this book (with permission, of course!) to share with you.

First up: lines and image excerpted from fugue

"...I just want your pianist hands to cup the rib caged bird that is my heart fluttering between us..."

I mean... come on. The image those words created paired with the visual depiction just wrapped their fingers like a vice around my soul!

Next: lines and image excerpted from I'm the love of your life...until I make you mad

"...did they all make it? the people. did they hide in here like me and wonder how they got shipwrecked in this bathroom, crying their own sea?"

The way the words in this poem pour out amidst the tears of the image in the book...it is truly beautiful!

Finally: line and image excerpted from what a wish i'd be

what if i quietly disappeared one day just like your counterfeit love...

Okay....let me just process that for another few years. I think anyone who has escaped a failing/flailing relationship can probably see a bit of themselves in this poem!

I loved this book...I DEVOURED it...and then I returned to it and chewed on it for quite a while! I suspect I will again and again.

I've heard that if a book review doesn't have anything negative to say, then people don't think it is genuine... hmmm....I'm trying but I'm really having to stretch here!

Mayyyyybe you wouldn't like this book if you just can't get past limericks being serious instead of silly? Or if you don't want to deep dive into the beautiful and complicated emotions of a bad relationship?

That's all I've got for negatives, sorry!

To order R.C. Taylor's chapbook, please check out this link!

To see more of her work here on Vocal, click here!

book reviews

About the Creator

Donna Renee

Hi! Thanks for reading! My hobbies include making coffee, drinking coffee, and starting to write a story and then rage-deleting it when I get the slightest bit frustrated.

Work in Progress: WOWH, cozy mystery (paranormal elements)


Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  2. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

  3. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  4. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

  5. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

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Comments (39)

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  • Test8 months ago

    Congratulations on achieving Top Story status! Your article is excellent, and the accompanying images are simply perfect."❤👌👍💖

  • Robbie Cheadleabout a year ago

    I didn't know people posted reviews here on Vocal. I am pretty new to this platform and I'm pleased to know this.

  • Naomi Goldabout a year ago

    Thanks for introducing me to R.C.’s work!

  • Heather Hublerabout a year ago

    Wow, you are a natural at reviewing! I appreciated how this felt complete and in-depth while also being succinct. I love your writing style for this. Your wonderful personality shines through as you bring attention to an amazing creator and their work. Fantastic, congratulations on Top Story :)

  • Mailk Bilalabout a year ago

    Amazing story

  • Gina C.about a year ago

    Amazing review!! You are a natural and I admire your close attention to detail. :) Well done and congrats on Top Story!! 😍😍

  • Cathy holmesabout a year ago

    Great review. Congrats on the top story

  • Sandra Matosabout a year ago

    What a great review! I bought a book because of it.

  • JBazabout a year ago

    I honestly do not know if R.C. work would have been for me. After reading your insight I can hardly wait to start reading. Thank you and congratulations

  • R.C. Taylorabout a year ago

    Congrats on Top Story, Queen! <3 :)

  • Congratulations on your Top Story 🎉

  • Melissa Ingoldsbyabout a year ago

    Gorgeous review Donna, I appreciate your insights. Thank you for sharing your support for this book!! ❤️ congratulations on top story!!!

  • Babs Iversonabout a year ago

    Fantastic!!! Well done and left some love!!!💖💕

  • Novel Allenabout a year ago

    What an absolutely wonderful experience. I somehow am not reading as much as i used to. I guess same old is not rousing my interest. But this is a class of it's own. Well done.

  • Musa Salmanabout a year ago

    Wow !! Excellent Read my story too : https://vocal.media/horror/the-old-mansion-on-the-hill-73b50glm

  • Caroline Cravenabout a year ago

    Great review. Definitely going to check out the book. Good on you!

  • Muhammad Aliabout a year ago

    Gives high praise for R.C. Taylor's chapbook "Cognitive Dissonance," which subverts the limerick style to explore the emotions of an unhealthy relationship. The review highlights the beautiful and powerful poetry, as well as the accompanying artwork.

  • Claire Guérinabout a year ago

    Thank you for sharing the work of another Vocal Creator here, and giving your honest review so that other readers can find this piece of work! You're a very engaging and generous creator, keep that up!

  • Kristen Balyeatabout a year ago

    Congrats on top story! I had a feeling I’d see this here! 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽💫

  • Mariann Carrollabout a year ago

    I can see why you like the book , great review on the book. 👍

  • Sonia Heidi Unruhabout a year ago

    You are a natural as a reviewer. Hope you keep it up!

  • Holly Pheniabout a year ago

    This is gorgeous! I'm eager to read the book now.

  • Excellent article and some perfect images, congratulations on your Top Story

  • Victoria R Rise.about a year ago

    Great 👌

  • Grz Colmabout a year ago

    Love that that the poems were subverted, and that you got to write this review. Great job! 👍😊 I will have to check out some of her work.

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