Tag Archives: non fiction

ARC Review – When You Ask Me Where I’m Going by Jasmin Kaur

Title: When You Ask me Where I’m Going

Author: Jasmin Kaur

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: The six sections of the book explore what it means to be a young woman living in a world that doesn’t always hear her and tell the story of Kiran as she flees a history of trauma and raises her daughter, Sahaara, while living undocumented in North America.

Delving into current cultural conversations including sexual assault, mental health, feminism, and immigration, this narrative of resilience, healing, empowerment, and love will galvanize readers to fight for what is right in their world.

Huge thank you to Harper Collins Canada for this ARC! Cross posted on Aurora Public Library’s Website as a YA Pick of the Month.

Sam’s Review:

I had the pleasure of listening to Jasmin Kaur speak at a recent Harper Collins Frenzy event in Toronto. Listening to Kaur speak about her life, the racism and sexism she has dealt with growing up, was both difficult as it was moving.

Jasmin Kaur’s debut novel is all about looking at life from various angles. This collection of mixed media features poetry, artwork, and short stories by Kaur, that depict life growing up in Abbotsford, British Columbia. Sharing stories of racism to personal trauma, Kaur exams what it means to be a young Sikh world in a world where everyone makes assumptions about you before you even have the chance to speak.

Kaur’s poems are raw and uncomfortable, but they also shed light and offer glimpses of hope as well. Kaur’s conversations about feminism, mental health, immigration, and sexual assault will resonate with a lot of readers. When You Ask Me Where I’m Going dares readers to look at their surroundings and challenges them to do better and be a better person.

Three Amazing LGBTQIA+ Reads to Check Out During #Pride

While I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog, I’ve been reading – a lot. With it being #PrideMonth, it also means I’m checking out a lot of great LGBTQIA+ reads in the process. While there’s so many books worth checking out, I thought it would be fun to share three I recently read — one published in the 70’s, one in the mid-2000’s, and one that came out last year. Here’s three books for #Pride that are worth looking into.

See You at Harry’s
by Jo Knowles (Published May 8th 2012 by Candlewick Press)

This was recommended to me by a dear friend who reads a lot of middle grade and we tend to have the exact same taste. This book feels a bit dated in parts, but it’s a beautiful story about a family coming together and learning about acceptance. Holden identifies as gay, and he comes out to Fern, our heroine, and it sparks a wonderful relationship of being able to find trust and acceptance for all walks of life. The handling of family and the pitfalls Fern faces in the story are very sad, but very realistic. A great coming out story with a great ending.

I’m Afraid of Men
by Vivek Shraya (August 28th 2018 by Penguin Books Canada)

Vivek Shraya is an amazing performer and storyteller. I loved her picture book The Boy & The Bindi, and her voice is timely as it is sharp and impeccable. I’m Afraid of Men is an exploration of Shraya’s relationships, her discomfort of being objectified by men. It’s her fears, her anger, and her sorrow as she deals with just how shitty the world is to trans-people, and she offers some important and valuable discussion on prejudice and how people need to get over themselves. This story, 98 page book packs a punch and is worth reading in one sitting.

Biting the Sun
(Four-BEE #1-2)
by Tanith Lee (Published October 5th 1999 by Spectra Books)

I have a love-hate relationship with Tanith Lee’s writing. I personally often find it very dry and dense, even though I always love her handling of different subject matters. What I loved about Biting the Sun is that it is a Utopian society where everyone is gender-fluid. This was being discussed in 70’s science-fiction! There’s also so much pansexuality in this book, and discussion of how gender-normality is trivial. HOW DID I NOT READ THIS SOONER? Seriously, if you can somehow find a copy of this book, it’s worth checking out just for the discusses of gender alone!

Fave of the Month – April

April has come and gone, but I did read a lot of fantastic books during the month. I feel like my mojo is coming back with a vengeance, which makes me pretty happy given April was a huge month of change for me. I start a new full-time library gig on Monday, I’ve made better choices regarding what goals I want to achieve in my life — lots of positives. I also cry because April is also the month where the most money has to get spent because yay taxes and car insurance!

Anywho, let’s see the favourite book of the month.

Shout
by Laurie Halse Anderson (Published: March 12th 2019 by Viking Books)

This is an auto-biographical look at Laurie Halse Anderson’s childhood and a look back at when she was sexually assaulted as a child. This book, written in verse, is a haunting and chilling experience where Anderson pulls no punches and opens up about what it means to have had been raped and how she still keeps going and survives. I read this book in a few hours and I appreciate how uncomfortable at times it made me feel, but also the moments it instilled hope in me as well. There’s some amazing lessons in this book and it’s worth checking out.

ARC Review – The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick by Mallory O’Meara

Title: The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick

Author: Mallory O’Meara

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: As a teenager, Mallory O’Meara was thrilled to discover that one of her favorite movies, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, featured a monster designed by a woman, Milicent Patrick. But for someone who should have been hailed as a pioneer in the genre there was little information available. For, as O’Meara soon discovered, Patrick’s contribution had been claimed by a jealous male colleague, her career had been cut short and she soon after had disappeared from film history. No one even knew if she was still alive.

As a young woman working in the horror film industry, O’Meara set out to right the wrong, and in the process discovered the full, fascinating story of an ambitious, artistic woman ahead of her time. Patrick’s contribution to special effects proved to be just the latest chapter in a remarkable, unconventional life, from her youth growing up in the shadow of Hearst Castle, to her career as one of Disney’s first female animators. And at last, O’Meara discovered what really had happened to Patrick after The Creature’s success, and where she went.

Huge thank you to Harper Collins Canada for this ARC!

San’s Review:

I love Mallory O’Meara on the Reading Glasses podcast. She’s crass, sassy, and just very entertaining when it comes to the discussion of reading and writing. She’s a very passionate individual and her first book The Lady from the Black Lagoonnot only focuses on the life of Milicent Patrick, who crafted monsters for a living, but O’Meara also parallels Patrick’s struggles of being a woman in Hollywood with her own personal struggles as a young genre film producer.

I was to first comment on how personal the writing felt in this book. It’s very conversational, very open-faced and honest. Reflecting on Milicent Patrick’s life and trying to uncover who she was, O’Meara goes through great lengths to learn about how Patrick survived in male dominated Hollywood as a woman who worked in Disney’s animation Department (she was responsible for “Night on Bald Mountain” and Chernabog design in Disney’s Fantasia!) to what it was like designing the suit for The Creature from the Black Lagoon. O’Meara shares her discovery of Patrick’s lack of credit for her various accomplishments and the toxic culture that unfortunately, still exists in Hollywood today.

I think what I loved about this book was just reading Mallory’s experience is doing research about someone who was fairly elusive. It was amazing to read about the lengths she went from doing specialized research with the L.A Library, to situations involving special collections, to even just stepping foot on Disney property to uncover as much as she could about Milicent Patrick. The library nerd in me was very into the deep dive of what it meant to go into an intense research frenzy. You feel O’Meara’s highs and lows while reading this book. Learning about the horror industry as well was very fascinating as someone who is fairly unfamiliar. Learning about how the horror industry is fairly sexist and misogynistic was of course, known, but reading about both O’Meara and Patrick’s experiences definitely made my blood boil at times.

I love when I get to read a book that is all about uncovering new truths about someone or something. Not only was Lady from the Black Lagoon a very approachable read, but it was one that allowed me to learn so much about an industry and a genre that I’m not the most familiar with. All in all Lady from the Black Lagoon was an enjoyable romp into uncovering the bright and darksides of what it means to be a female in the film industry.

The Scott Challenge – January and February Selections

My husband Scott is as much an avid reader as I am. He’s always encouraging me to try different kinds of books, while also picking buzzwords for items that he knows I will read and likely love. This year, I asked him to pick a book each month that he wants me to read, whether it’s a science or fantasy novel that he knows I’ve been meaning to get to, or something he’s recently loved and wants to share. Every two months, I’ll share with you my experience of reading books my husband selections for me.

January Pick:

Red Country
by Joe Abercrombie (Published: October 23rd 2012 by Orbit)

I LOVE Joe Abercrombie’s First Law series, though hilariously I managed to skip this book and accidentally read Sharp Ends first. Red Country is, in a lot of ways, a weird Western, which I am a complete sucker for in a fantasy setting. Shy South may be my new favourite protagonist in the series (and her short story was my favourite in Sharp Ends), as she is full of gumption and grit. All the elements of a good Western are present in the story, from lawless cowfolk to gold rush fever. This book did take me awhile to get into just due to setting and style, but overall I quite loved it. 4/5 Stars.

February Pick:

Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell
by David Yaffe (Published: June 13th 2017 by Sarah Crichton Books)

My husband knows I am a huge Joni Mitchell fan. I’ve read a few books regarding her bio information in the past, but Yaffe’s book seems to be the definitive text when it comes to creating a portrait of who Mitchell was over the years. Strong in personality, her songs are a reflection of her past and the world around her. She also comes across bratty, stubborn and even callous at times, which made this book all the more interesting to read. There was so much I didn’t know regarding her illness, her depression, and even reading about her marriages was fascinating stuff. I’m really glad my husband gifted this to me two years ago and only made me read it now! 4/5 Stars.

And that’s it for now! Next update will be in May when we find out what March and April’s reads are!

ARC Review – Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist by Sylvia Acevedo

Title: Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist

Author:  Sylvia Acevedo

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: A meningitis outbreak in their underprivileged neighborhood left Sylvia Acevedo’s family forever altered. As she struggled in the aftermath of loss, young Sylvia’s life transformed when she joined the Brownies. The Girl Scouts taught her how to take control of her world and nourished her love of numbers and science.   With new confidence, Sylvia navigated shifting cultural expectations at school and at home, forging her own trail to become one of the first Latinx to graduate with a master’s in engineering from Stanford University and going on to become a rocket scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

This was an unexpected read that ended up on my door step. Someone who’s opinion I highly trust said it was a non-fiction book that I would likely adore. She was 100% right about that, as Path to the Stars explores the life of Sylvia Acevedo and her story of being a girl scout who loved science and wanted it to become a part of the Girl Scouts mandate.

I loved this book. I think Sylvia Acevedo’s story is one a lot of young women can easily relate to. She was lucky to have so much support from her loved ones, and trying to fit all the things that she loves into the world and giving it to those who may not have that opportunity, she wants to make that a reality for young girls everywhere. I loved learning about her traditional upbringing and I liked how this book covered her childhood right up to her first few years at college.

Having a background to her life and seeing what she has accomplished is so inspiring, and what I love is that this book teaches the value of moving from a lack of privilege, to a place of privilege, and being able to use it to give back to those who lack opportunities or are denied chances to be included because of family life and socio-economical issues. I think Path to the Stars is a thoughtful memoir that I hope any younger readers check out, and hopefully they will feel inspired by Acevedo’s life as much as I did reading this book.

 

ARC Review – For Every One by Jason Reynolds

Title: For Every One

Author: Jason Reynolds

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Originally performed at the Kennedy Center for the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and later as a tribute to Walter Dean Myers, this stirring and inspirational poem is New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist Jason Reynolds’s rallying cry to the dreamers of the world.

Huge thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Words cannot express how much of an unabashed Jason Reynolds fangirl I am. Whenever I read one of his novels I get completely swept into his narratives. When I read his poetry, I feel his words are like a warm blanket. In the case of For Every One that warm blanket is set on fire.

This beautiful long form poem looks at dreamers, people with passions, hopes, and desires. It looks at how we are people can be the detriments to our own success. It takes all our fears and discomforts and breaks them into tangible pieces that fuel strength and personal growth. Although it is written as a letter, you get the sense that this is drawn on not just from personal experiences, but even the experiences of others. I appreciate that he mentions how dreams are not just for creative types — dreams are for every one, and dreams come is all shapes and sizes.

For Every One is the little book you didn’t know you needed in your life. It’s motivating, inspiring, and it’s lights a fire that often feels extinguished in a world where we are often told that dreams don’t matter or they are unrealistic. This letter reminds us that dreams are worth having, that being who you want to be is worth it. I implore everyone to check this one because it offers words of wisdom that many of us who have felt defeated by life could use as a pick-me-up.