Shades of Blue

The Journey of Awakening

Poetry - Inspirational
166 Pages
Reviewed on 08/24/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite

Shades of Blue: The Journey of Awakening by Gino Vallejo is a stunning collection of poetry that transcends time and place with eighty poems that range from Cleopatra in Egypt to soldiers in Iraq. The collection explores themes of end days, love, sacrifice, and time with so much said in every poem. Vallejo delivers brilliantly written poetry full of vivid imagery with poignant messages that are thought-provoking and emotional explorations that will leave an impression. The language is dazzling with a lyrical quality and a way with words that every lover of language and poetry will adore.

Gino Vallejo delivers poems that explore concepts of love, end of days and departing from a relationship while weaving in religious and historical themes. The poem Cleopatra is a stunning example of how Vallejo breathes life into history by exploring the days of the famous queen in a world of romance, power, and rebirth with her relationship with Antony and her position of royalty as the central focus points. Time is a key theme explored throughout several of the poems which often feature the concept of running out of time. This is evident in the poem An Hourglass of Time, which explores time through the lens of memories long gone and nostalgia. Other poignant poems include the trio of poems -- A Soldier's Cry, A Warrior's Legacy, and A Warrior's Tale -- with each of these opening up a discussion about war and the legacy left behind.

The end of the world is a concept throughout with Blood Moon Rising as the most significant with its focus on the idea of an ending world and imagery that includes the four horsemen coming to life and the broken seals setting forth the apocalypse. Several poems are paired with illustrations which are woven throughout with rich details that help bring some of the poems to life. The collection is bound to give several favorites with a few standouts being Just a Moment in Time, The Lost Emblem of Love, Moonlight Sonata, Cleopatra: The Song of the Nile, and The Weird Dawn of Dreams. Shades of Blue: The Journey of Awakening is a stunning collection that has a brilliant use of language, thought-provoking messages, and breathtaking imagery.

Jessica Barbosa

Shades of Blue: The Journey of Awakening is a voyage of intensified sensory perception through the eighty poems written by Gino Vallejo and artwork by Stephanie LeVasseur. It takes the reader on an unforgettable journey through the deserts of Egypt, gates of Heaven, and modern Iraq, to name a few. Poetry lovers can immerse themselves in words of heartbreak, lies, love, innocence, and find more than they expect in the book’s pages. The poems’ rhythmic words and deep implications are woven together so skillfully that poetry enthusiasts will rejoice at every poem, no matter the subject.

I found Gino Vallejo’s Shades of Blue: The Journey of Awakening to be a treasure trove full of soulful, incredible poetry. So much so, that I am simply blown away by the quality content I read in its pages. Each of Vallejo’s poem evokes a different emotion, depending on its subject and content. My emotions were on a constant roller coaster ride because of the raw emotions painted behind the words and Stephanie LeVasseur’s sketches that accompany a few of the pieces. These poems inspect and involve themselves with their respective subjects in great depth. This collection of poetry takes hold of my feelings with a firm grip and shakes me right to the core. To me, the cadence of the words and their structure add to their addictive allure; they hit the mark and pierce straight to my heart. Shades of Blue: The Journey of Awakening is an authentic collection of heartfelt, breathtaking poetry that captivated my heart and soul with its intense and impassioned words. Truly a five out of five stars recommendation.

Samantha Coville

Poetry is known for its ability to touch the human soul and draw out emotions. And author Gino Vallejo accomplishes that thoroughly in a collection of poems titled Shades of Blue. The poems make you feel almost like you are a spirit who is drifting from one life to the next, one place and purpose after another. The settings are vastly different from poem to poem, but they flow together beautifully. So many topics touched on in so little time make this collection an impressive work of art.

I enjoyed Shades of Blue: The Journey of Awakening immensely. I am very picky when it comes to poetry and I think my biggest pet peeve is when authors try to use large words for the sake of sounding more profound than they really are. Author Gino Vallejo does not fall for this gimmick and instead delivers simple, yet impactful pieces. My favorite poem in the collection is titled Innocence and it says, "Oh, son, your fragile innocence/exists in a twilight/that lights my void." That simple, easy to comprehend passage is emotional and deep. I can imagine a father leaning over his son, watching him sleep, and telling his son in gentle whispers what he means to his father. When you, as an author, are able to deliver a gut-punch of feeling effectively, you don't need to go crazy with a thesaurus to do it. I applaud Vallejo for doing what so few poets are doing right now and I am excited to see what he creates for us next.

K.C. Finn

Shades of Blue is a large collection of poetical works penned by author Gino Vallejo, subtitled ‘The Journey of Awakening’. In this transformative and experimental style of poetic narrative, eighty poems come together with some visually stunning art by Stephanie LeVasseur to produce a journey through the human experience. Many themes and time periods are covered as we travel from ancient times to modern day, exploring opposites and extremes like life and death, heaven and hell and beginnings and endings in the lives of humankind. What results is a highly transcendent and emotionally charged collection of work that is best read from beginning to end to fully appreciate its journey.

Author Gino Vallejo has certainly not created a ‘poem for the day’ kind of coffee table book; rather this is a deep and well-considered collection that requires your full attention and an open heart to enjoy. The illustrations provided by Stephanie LeVasseur are ethereal and beautifully balanced, bringing characters and scenes to life in a delicate but deep pencil drawn style. For the poems themselves, the stylistic wordplay of the author and a deep emotional intensity are common to all, and from there the works diversify to cover many different themes, structures, rhyme styles, and atmospheres. What results is an emotional journey that takes you through varying highs and lows, with relatable concepts and experiences even in the most obscure of sources. Overall, Shades of Blue is a powerful experience that will touch the hearts of fans of metaphysical poetry, emotive storytelling, and ethereal imagery.

Sefina Hawke

Shades of Blue (The Journey of Awakening) by Gino Vallejo is an inspirational poetry book that would appeal most to a mixed audience of young adults and adults who enjoy poetry that encourages introspection and William Blake enthusiasts. This collection of poetry includes eighty different poems that include topics like praise to God, heaven and hell, freedom, greed, apocalypse, and history. Are you ready to take a journey that will unlock timeless truths and lies before your eyes?

Shades of Blue (The Journey of Awakening) by Gino Vallejo has a beautifully intriguing cover image that piqued my interest in the poetry collection the moment I saw it. It seemed like the type of cover that would indicate mystery, introspective journeys, and beauty. The poems beneath the cover did not disappoint, as each poem seemed to tell a different, story, truth, or lie. I loved the artwork done by Stephanie LeVasseur as the images served to enhance the poems and bring them to life through the images. My favorite image was Blood Moon Rising as it fitted the poem beautifully and it gave me a clear image to focus on when I went back to re-read the poem.

My favorite poems were My Beautiful Friend and My Beautiful Friend, Peace; the two poems went together beautifully and I loved the compassionate, yet somber feel of the poem. I felt like it was talking about the hard situations that many people find themselves in today, yet it also had a silver lining of compassion and hope that gave it a balanced feel. Overall, I greatly enjoyed this poetry collection and I hope the author decides to write another in the future!

Luwi Nyakansaila

Shades of Blue by Gino Vallejo is a collection of enlightening poems that will take you on a journey of healing and rebirth. The author uses themes of beauty, love, redemption, the end of times, and the afterlife to present an emotionally captivating message. He talks about things of beauty like heaven, the story of Cleopatra and ancient Egypt, and Venus, the goddess of love. Then he dives into the importance and value of small things, like time with family and friends, and how all is vanity on this earth. He tells of how seeking earthly crowns has led to injustice, terrorism, war, propaganda, and the sin that has corrupted our minds. He also talks about the end of days, one world religion, the new world order, and the apocalypse. The author assures us of a happy ending because he believes in God's love and protection over our lives.

Shades of Blue is an amazing adventure and roller coaster of emotions. Gino Vallejo does not use random words to construct these poems. Instead, he tells a memorable story. Despite the doom and gloom of an inevitable end, the author rejoices in the hope of a peaceful and beautiful heaven. He writes many poems from God's perspective and addresses himself as His son. I loved these poems because they gave me comfort and solace. The book also contains colorful sketched images that correspond with the poems and give the reader a visual of some of the subjects like goddesses, families, and many more. Shades of Blue is not only an incredible work of art but also a life-changing experience as it takes you along on a transformative journey.

Sarah Stuart

Shades of Blue: The Journey of Awakening by Gino Vallejo comprises ninety-five freestyle poems of varying lengths that encompass a wide range of themes – hymns to God, stories of angels, revelations about heaven, laments for lost love and passion, and echoes of regret about manmade tragedies. Theater of Shadows is so vivid one can almost hear the skirl of bagpipes. A few of the poems are illustrated with color drawings by Stephanie LeVasseur. One of the most striking appears between Awaiting Venus and Venus Arising, and another, completely different, precedes the tangled emotions of Requiem for a Dream.

Unlike Stevie Smith’s Not Waving But Drowning, a man drowning in water, Gino Vallejo drowned me in a plethora of words. I traveled his journey of awakening without a pause, drawn inexorably onward by the flow that opens with the vividness of his depiction of heaven: “…an abundance of colors with golden roads marveling a beautiful abode on a sea of glass…” Light Over Death is different from, but inspired by, Lyte’s Abide With Me. My favorite is the title poem. Fourteen lines describe the colors of evening, sensuous thoughts of unnamed “you”, martyrdom, enlightenment, and much more are embodied in the theme of waves on water. In Gino Vallejo, the world has found a modern peer of Percy Shelley, Thomas Hardy, and W. B. Yates. Shades of Blue will be a treat for every poetry lover and is a book that demands to be reread.

Asher Syed

Shades of Blue: The Journey of Awakening by Gino Vallejo is a compilation of the author's original poetry with original artistry by Stephanie LeVasseur. A prolific poet, Vallejo graces the pages with nearly one hundred independent pieces that touch on so many aspects of life, death, emotion, and all things existential. These vary in tone, tenor, and length, from the short but incredibly moving poem The Other Side, which breathes life into the expanse of understanding beyond this one linear life and moment, to the lengthier A Worldy Crown, a stunningly beautiful ode to loss and the desperate hope that love spent seemingly unrequited will be returned in body, spirit, and emotional connection.

Shades of Blue strikes gold in the sphere of modern poetry that reads with the beauty that seems to only be found in the classics. Gino Vallejo is an artist of verse to a spectacular degree, and this is not something I would ever, ever say casually. The poem that shares the book's title, Shades of Blue, is also one of its most eloquently written, lilting in a soft rhythm that connects the verses and describes its shades in an almost cinematic way. “Words vying between sky and fading blue, as waves serene from a distant dream; culminating between you, and a beautiful sunset hue.” The artwork by Stephanie LeVasseur that is scattered throughout the book complements the work nicely. There are several in the first half of Vallejo's compilation and start to taper off in the latter half. I loved the sketch of the back of a man and child holding hands as they walk under an arch of foliage in a park. Overall, this book is near perfection and I have no doubt those who read it for themselves will agree.

Hayley Haun

Shades of Blue by Gino Vallejo is a testament to the timelessness of poetry. His work spans the space of ethereal, romantic, familial, and mythological topics. Readers ride the wave of words from muses like Venus to the fabled Cleopatra and her beloved Marc Anthony. You'll read about what inspires poetry, which can be anything in life, such as war, relationships, or nature. Vallejo takes these experiences and inspirations and makes them flow so they bleed onto the page and jump out to meet you.

Shades of Blue is first and foremost a reintroduction to poetry. Poetry has a way of healing the soul through words. It is a way into the inner workings and emotions of the writer. It has been some time since I read poetry of this kind and it was time well spent. I felt as if I had transcended into a different plane of thought with Gino Vallejo doing wonders in keeping me suspended in place. My time in college was spent reading through the classics and I believe Shades of Blue could be a classic in its own right. The reader is transported beyond the page to use their five senses along with their imagination, making the journey worthwhile.

"So, let us ride this ethereal plane
of love and sky, above a span of dreams
that is beautifully paired for us to share,
beyond an old party of lies
that masquerades in the fold of midnight."

Astrid Iustulin

Some poets can describe our world with incredible inventiveness. This is the case of Gino Vallejo, who, in his poetic collection, Shades of Blue: The Journey of Awakening, invites his readers to go on a journey like never before. In his poems, Vallejo deals with diverse themes, ranging from Cleopatra's Egypt to America, describing along the way the many feelings and situations around the topics of war, faith, and God, with Vallejo dedicating poems to members of his family, including his father, his brother, and his son.

Shades of Blue is a poetic collection that struck me with its depth and the beauty of its verses. Gino Vallejo shows he is a refined and attentive poet who knows how to grasp all aspects of the topics and situations he describes. The variety of themes ensures that every reader will find something to their liking, which reveals the sensitivity and finesse of this poet. I found every poem was a surprise and that every page was an inexhaustible source of pleasure. I do not think I have ever read a collection of poems that have made such a deep impression on me. This poet's writing is mesmerizing. I recommend Shades of Blue to all readers who love poetry and are looking for inspiring readings that transport them into a complex and fascinating world like the one Vallejo describes here.