Tag Archives: poetry

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.

ARC Review – Rebound (The Crossover 0.5) by Kwame Alexander

Title: For Every One

Author: Jason Reynolds

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Before Josh and Jordan Bell were streaking up and down the court, their father was learning his own moves. In this prequel to Newbery Medal winner The Crossover, Chuck Bell takes center stage, as readers get a glimpse of his childhood and how he became the jazz music worshipping, basketball star his sons look up to.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I loved The Crossover when I read it last year, and it was the second novel by Kwame Alexander that I’ve read. Rebound is a prequel novel that focuses on Charlie Bell, father to Josh and Jordan Bell. Charlie’s story looks at growing up, what it means to come from nothing but demanding to be someone.

I will say I really did enjoy this book, though it didn’t hook me the way Alexander’s other books have. While I loved some of the poems, others didn’t click as well with me. The other issue is I wasn’t often fond of Charlie or his decisions in the story, and I found him much more difficult to connect with compared to Josh. I still say though that I did love the themes that were present in Charlie’s story, and it was interesting to read his thoughts and feelings known how he was presented in The Crossover. There is still a sense of hope, to be a better person, to want to do better and be successful — all messages that anyone can relate to, and especially growing up in the 1980’s which this book takes place in, as the 1980’s ever an interesting period of self-discovery.

I do think if you loved The Crossover that Rebound is completely worth checking out. While I didn’t have the same emotional investment, I still loved seeing Charlie’s transformation even if I couldn’t connect with him the same way I did Josh. As always, I love reading Kwame Alexander’s books, especially about sports given he always makes me feel as a reader like I can accomplish anything with sports metaphors.

ARC Review – Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

Title: Blood Water Paint

Author: Joy McCullough

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Her mother died when she was twelve, and suddenly Artemisia Gentileschi had a stark choice: a life as a nun in a convent or a life grinding pigment for her father’s paint.

She chose paint.

By the time she was seventeen, Artemisia did more than grind pigment. She was one of Rome’s most talented painters, even if no one knew her name. But Rome in 1610 was a city where men took what they wanted from women, and in the aftermath of rape Artemisia faced another terrible choice: a life of silence or a life of truth, no matter the cost.

Huge thank you to Miss Print’s ARC adoption for this review copy.

Molly’s Review:

This is probably going to be one of my top favorite books of 2018. I cannot describe how this book made me feel and I somehow have to for this review.

This book is horrifying.

This book is empowering.

This book is not shocking and shocking at the same time.

This book is timely and relevant and historical.

Blood Water Paint first got on my radar when I saw the cover and read the synopsis. I’m not usually into books written in verse, but wow, WOW, this book was beautifully written. I could have read pages and pages more. (for those of you who aren’t super into verse, there ARE sections that are written in traditional prose)

I think books about rape are important. Growing up I lived in a place that perpetuated rape culture and I was taught that women need to be responsible for not getting themselves raped. I was taught that girls ask for it, and that they cry rape after they do something they regret. I wish, oh how I wish, I had been exposed to books that taught otherwise. I wish that I had learned at a much earlier age that women are not to blame, that rape happens BECAUSE RAPISTS. And that is the end of it. So this book is important.

I also loved that I learned about a historical woman that I had never heard of before. I’ve really been into learning more about hidden ladies of the past recently, and this was such a nice addition to my shelf.

I so hope that McCullough writes more books like this.

Please read this book. Please sink into the beautiful writing, please feel all of the rage and sorrow and hope and fight that soak through these pages. Please see what a woman can do.

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 – Poisoned Apples by Christine Heppermann

20359699Title: Poisoned Apples

Author: Christine Heppermann

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: A devious poetry collection by  author Christine Heppermann. 

Huge thank you to Greenwillow Books and Edelweiss for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

So I have to say, Poisoned Apples was a pleasant surprise. The poems attempt to blur the lines between fairy tales and reality and have to say, a lot of them the poems do a good job in justifying this. I think poetry collections can be a real tough sell, but the poems weave into each other surprisingly well that you felt like you were reading one large poetic narrative.

Also it’s feminist poetry. That’s an area I can say I completely approve of. I loved that Heppermann poked fun at tampon commercials, beauty, fashion, body images, things that are supposed to “make a woman.” A lot of the poems argue that none of these things make you a “true woman” and if anything it’s silly to even consider it. There’s a very dark and playful tone to a lot of the poems — in fact, I even found humor in a lot of them. There’s quite the cleverness in this collection, and no you don’t have to be well versed in fairy tales to appreciate it.

There’s a lot to like in this poetry collection, and I think the poems coupled with the photography and artwork is a great touch. I definitely want to see how a finished version of this book will look like when it releases in September. Honestly, check it out — there’s so fun and trouble to be found here.


They say you never forget your first love. Or is it first heartbreak? Whatever. They’re one in the same for me. And it’s true.

Fair Season Friends



Stars explode in the back of  her eyes, wind whips through her hair,

She looks into a galaxy full of  potential (through windshield from driver’s seat).

Wondering if  she has what she really wanted, turning up the radio, turning,

Grasping at his  arm, telling him to tell her all about it.

He talks about girls  that are not  her, she turns the volume dial again –up.

And she listens as well as that old twisted maple tree doesn’t, laying under it,

Heat stroke, sprawled out  in the sun warmed grass, goodbye.

Get back in the fucking car and drive it faster!

She needs to get out of here, maybe go to Tokyo.

He calls her, morphing her into one of those annoying people who can’t shut up,

Cell phone glued to her ear, can you hear me now? Gooood.

He wants to see her now, again, it’s like going to the doctor, something

She doesn’t want to, but needs to-do.  Scared of the real results.

He pretends that he cares when she really does, but doesn’t want to.


He pretends that he cares when she really does, but doesn’t want to.

At the same time he places her picture back on his shelf

Her smiling face looking down at him, he can she her from anyplace in his room.

He  can smile at her when he’s falling asleep, or over the shoulder of another girl.

They meet up in April, toes stuck in mud as they sit on plastic lawn chairs.

She tells him about a boy that broke her heart and he says he ‘understands’ .

They pause to drink Minute Maid lemonade out of crystal cups and sit in silence.

Kicking it Billy Joel-style, the ice breaks in his glass, moisture on the side.

Speaking together as one, laughing over old jokes, remembering what it‘s like,

Meaning so much to each other, as much as employees at Wal-Mart mean to

Each other, he hugs her, she turns her head, says ‘see ya,’ gone for another month.

Breathing in the sounds of May, sitting in a pool of  sunlight.

She thinks that she’s won this -the second round- a revolution.

Only to have him tell her, later on, how hot she looked.


Only to have him tell her, later on, how hot she looked.

She swears that it’s a different story this time,

A  book written by a different author, that’s the way she sees it.

Maybe snow piled up over her heart, maybe it’s frozen?

Blue tinged brain, her nose wont stop running and her smile is frosted over.

They throw snowballs at each other and put cold fingers down pants.

She swears it’s a punk rock strike!!! this time

Things will go her way or she’ll have someone sign a petition against

Another broken heart, she’ll start smoking Marlboro if she has to!!

She vows to dye her hair black (Herbal Essence style) if she must!

Until he reaches over and rips all of her barriers down,

Just like the snow plow slid through that stop sign — crash.

Taking out the barbed wire fence that was protecting the (empty) playground

Just like the barbed wire fence that was protecting her (full) heart


Just like the barbed wire fence that was protecting her (full) heart.

She listens to him just like she did in the summer,

Two seasons ago seemed so far away, just as far away as the pond

Surrounded by golden leaves, sitting behind the house that they slept in.

Her parents gone for the weekend, his smooth talking convincing her;

Break the rules, like the one kid from Malcolm in the Middle.

Crying for weeks after he left her again, breaking CDS that remind her.

Saying fuck it all and reading a book, then writing a book, about a

Girl who was better than herself, a girl who broke boys hearts,

Then meet one that was better than all the rest (him). Special dedication.

She called the book Reluctant Hero: never wanted responsibility

But takes it on because [he] must.

She sent  him a copy, he read it and loved it.

He finally called her and apologized for real. He finally said

What she wanted to hear all along, words that she couldn’t accept anymore.