Tag Archives: non fiction

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.

 

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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! 🙂

#TBRTakedown 4.0 TBR Post

Hey guys! I thought I’d share that I am participating in #TBRTakedown, which runs from June 20th to the 26th. This event is hosted by the amazing Shannon @ LeaningLights. Here’s her video to announce the event if you want to know more of what it is about!

I have been doing this event since Shannon started it, and it’s a favourite readathon of mine because I love the challenges and I find I accomplish so much in terms of reading when I do it. Here’s my TBR along with what books fit what challenges:

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1. TBR over a year [longest] – The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi
2. Sequel – Thanatos by Karen Dales (Book Three of the Chosen Chronicles)
3. First book in a series – This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
4. Out of comfort zone [whatever that means for you] – Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty (Non-Fiction)
5. Most Recent Book Haul – How It Ends by Catherine Lo

Considering this is my week where I work seven days in a row, I think I can read all five of these books without too much of a problem. This comes with the joy of commuting between work places. At the end of the month you’ll find out whether or not I was successful, but pray for me that I will be because June has been a very trying month of being an adult and reading (and gaming, and writing, all my favourite things) have fallen a bit to the wayside.

Are you participating? Share your TBR with me, as I’d love to see what you’re reading for the event.

Book Review – The Secret Loves of Geek Girls, edited by Hope Nicholson

26094420Title:  The Secret Loves of Geek Girls

Edited by: Hope Nicholson

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Secret Loves of Geek Girls is an exciting new nonfiction anthology of comic and prose stories from women in fandom. All the stories in this collection revolve around personal experiences and thoughts on romance, sex, and dating.

Sam’s Review:

Truthfully, I don’t read a lot of non-fiction. This is probably due to the fact that I haven’t found a lot of non-fiction that interests me. When I saw the pitch for The Secret Loves of Geek Girls on Kickstarter, I knew I had to have it. After reading it, I’m glad with how it all turned out in the end.

This book features short essays and comics focusing on love, dating, fandom, sexuality, feminism, etc. It provides tons of unique perspectives, especially with how fandoms play a larger role in women’s lives and why it is a part of who they are. Fandom is something everyone is a part of, and there is no one true fandom! Plus we get various points of view from women of color, bisexuals, older women, younger women, and it’s fantastic! It’s such a great variety, and each story evokes its own tone of voice.

I can only hope more people check this book out now that it has released to a larger public. It’s sweet, earnest, crass and you won’t find uniquer voices than what’s in this collection. Every story offers something to learn, a perspective that may be you the reader hasn’t thought of, and I loved how it kept my curiosity busy. Definitely check this out if you want to read some wonderfully realistic and thoughtful stories.

ARC Review – The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Lexicon of Life Hacks for the Modern Lady Geek

22926684Title: The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Lexicon of Life Hacks for the Modern Lady Geek

Author: Sam Maggs

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Fanfic, cosplay, cons, books, memes, podcasts, vlogs, OTPs and RPGs and MMOs and more—it’s never been a better time to be a girl geek. The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy is the ultimate handbook for ladies living the nerdy life, a fun and feminist take on the often male-dominated world of geekdom. With delightful illustrations and an unabashed love for all the in(ternet)s and outs of geek culture, this book is packed with tips, playthroughs, and cheat codes for everything from starting an online fan community to planning a convention visit to supporting fellow female geeks in the wild.

Huge thank you to Random House Canada and Quirk Books for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

You know what I love about Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy? All of it. Okay, that’s an overstatement, but I really did love this book cover to cover. There’s a little self-help, a lot of strategies for those who struggle to embrace their lady geek, and the message throughout the book is wonderfully positive.

I love that Sam Maggs gives a large overview of the geek lexicon and the way in which geeks interact with fandom and other geeks. She doesn’t shy away from the complicated aspects of what it means to be a lady geek in a male dominated, boys club called ‘fandom’. I totally found myself nodding along when she discussed what it meant to have her geek prowess ‘tested’ just because people didn’t want her to feel included — I know exactly how that feels like.

I also loved her promotion of what it means to be a feminist and how women need to stop competing with one another and instead attempt to work together. I used to struggle a lot with that myself being a woman in the game’s industry, but now, as I’ve gotten older, I’m finding myself embracing the idea of letting other women into my life. The Fangirl’s Litany is inspiring and truthful, because really, who wants to be a companion, when you can be the doctor? It’s so true!

Honestly, there’s so much to this very compact guide that I could go on forever about how wonderful and inspiring it is. It will make you feel like you can combat and overcome issues that stand in your way, but it also offers a lot of common sense that often is forgotten by those in fandom. Like be awesome to each other — why is that one so damn hard to remember? In any case,Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy is personable, humorous and charming to the geeky core. There’s so much fun to be had in this book, and Sam Maggs really is a wonderful guide through the complexities of what it means to be a modern day fangirl.