Tag Archives: non fiction

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.

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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.

ARC Review – Real Friends by Shannon Hale & LeUyen Pham

Title: Real Friends

Author:  Shannon Hale & LeUyen Pham

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.

Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Have you ever read a book that you felt perfectly reflected parts of your life? That’s how I felt when I was reading Real Friends and watching Little!Shannon go through the motions of making friends. Being that this is an autobiographical graphic novel, it’s interesting to see how the artwork and the story co-exist — truthfully, the art does an amazing job capturing this story.

I felt for Shannon throughout the whole book. I was one of those kids who was forced out of “The Group” or was picked last because they didn’t always fit in. I was bullied, shamed, and pushed around. It got to the point where throughout my elementary school years that I really struggled to make friends with other girls (boys, hilariously, no issue). I wanted girl!friends, but when sixth grade began I remember what a dark place I was in. How different I was compared to the other kids in my grade. Like Shannon who was connected to writing her novels and having imagination time, I was similar in my love of drawing, colouring and playing with toys. I always had ongoing plotlines that would span weeks and weeks of “episodes” but by sixth grade, no one thought playing with toys was cool anymore.

And that’s what a lot of this story is about. It’s about Shannon trying to make connections with others while also staying completely true to herself, which in this day and age is hard to do. Children are surrounded with so many new pressures that they lose sight of the person they want to be and become, and I love and appreciate the message that Hale and Pham share throughout this story and being yourself. I found myself nodding a long to the story, cheering for Shannon in her successes, but also having those same possessive feelings when you feel like a friend only belongs to you and no one else (which is totally how kids think when they are young, I did it repeatedly).

I think many kids and adults will love Real Friends and I think it offers some important commentary about what it means to grow up and figure yourself out. Packed with gorgeous artwork and it’s strong storytelling, Real Friends is the perfect book for those in the awkward middle stage, who may need a small helping hand.

Book Chat – How I Learned to Stop Being Afraid of Non-Fiction

As a public library worker and someone who specifically handles a lot of Readers Advisory requests, non-fiction still is the one area that I often struggle with. It’s not to say that non-fiction can’t be enjoyable, but it’s definitely a genre I struggle to gravitate towards. However, in 2016, I’ve read more non-fiction than I have any other year that I’ve done my reading challenge. Sometimes I think non-fiction is about finding books that interest you and, if your like me, find things you enjoy while also coming out of your comfort zone.

Here’s three non-fiction books I’ve recently read that I loved and would encourage others to definitely check out.

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Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps
by Kelly Williams Brown

This book made me laugh and provided me with practical advice on how to live alone for the first time. If you are familiar with my background, I spent the majority of my twenties taking care of my sick parents and I wasn’t one of those lucky kids  who went away for university. This book gave me so many ideas and solutions for different situations that I may come across, especially cleaning techniques that I never would have thought would work. I feel like this should be mandatory reading for first time youngins who happen to be on their own for the first time. Seriously, there is some wonderful tried and true advice here.

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Let the Elephants Run: Unlock Your Creativity and Change Everything
by David Usher

I had a long love affair with David Usher’s music back when I was in high school, more specifically, I was a fan of his band Moist. This is our public library’s community read, and it’s definitely a very different choice than what we’ve had prior. This book explores unlocking creative potential, and being reminded that everyone can posses creativity and the ability to try and do things in different ways. It’s also a book that encourages the reader to WRITE IN IT! I think while some of Usher’s methods are a bit contradictory at times, I do love the moments in the book where he explains where a lot of his inspiration for some of his popular hits like “Black Black Heart” come from. There’s definitely some interesting ideas in this book, and if anything, it’s definitely a fast read.

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Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory
by Caitlin Doughty

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is easily one of my favourite recent non-fiction reads, and it’s a book I discovered through Cece @ Problems of a Book Nerd‘s YouTube Channel. I chose to read this book very recently after my mother had passed away and it gave me insane insight into the funeral industry, how we mourn those we’ve lost, but also some of the funnier situations that come from dealing with the dead on a day to day basis. While this book definitely has some “ew” moments, it also has a lot of “ah ha!” and “Bwahahahaha!” moments as well. If you can get your hands on this book, it’s definitely worth the read and it’s quite the little oddball.

I’ve also read a few other good non-fiction reads which includes Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs (she knows I love this book though… repeatedly), and I read Spinster by Kate Bolick, which provides an interesting look at spinsterhood and the women who pioneered spinster-culture. There’s definitely a lot of great non-fiction out there, and I feel like I’m really only just scratching the surface.

I would love to have some recommendations for awesome, fun, or interesting non-fiction reads. Please share them in the comments below and recommend me some fun non-fiction! Help me expand my reading universe! 🙂