Tag Archives: simon teen canada

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 – When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi

Author: Sandhya Menon

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

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

Sam’s Review:

Ever since I saw the cover for When Dimple Met Rishi, I knew I wanted to read this book. When I read the synopsis, I knew I wanted to read this book. I had this book super hyped in my head, which is why I think I put off reading it for as long as I did. However, this book didn’t disappoint me! I laughed, I cried, I had many, many feelings throughout the course of it, and I feel like Sandhya Menon is going to be an author watch now.

I loved Dimple from page one. She’s one of those characters with a lot of conviction and determination. She sees herself as a very independent young woman with goals that don’t include marriage right off the bat. Her family wants her to be happy, so they arrange for her to meet with Rishi, a young Indian boy who is on his way to MIT, but has a secret passion for comic book writing.

Both protagonists have strong visions of where they want to be in their lives, but they both also struggle with their family values. It’s part of why I loved the story so much is that both Dimple and Rishi’s troubles felt very raw and real, and Menon gives the reader so much context to what it’s like to be a young Indian-American trying to both love and value yourself, but also respect the wishes of the family. What I also loved is there’s a lot of comedy between the two characters, but their romance blossoms into something that feels very organic. You get a sense that parts of this story were heavily influenced by Bollywood culture, and while that is super noticeable, it doesn’t detract from the kind of romance that Menon is trying to convey between Dimple and Rishi. There’s a lot of skill in finding a balance for this kind of story, and Menon nails it.

I also loved a lot of the supporting characters, and I didn’t feel like they were one note in the slightest. I adored Rishi’s brother, and I loved that he was a typical little brother who also could see how blind his older sibling is. I loved Celia and I thought she was a good counterpart to Dimple’s character in that she keeps her grounded. I LOVED both Dimple and Rishi’s families, particularly Dimple’s family, who made me laugh, smile and you get this huge sense of love from her family.

When Dimple Met Rishi is one of those books that just gives you so many feelings as your reading it, and that is why I loved it so much. It’s the kind of contemporary book that balances so many different aspects of life, but also still manages to craft a romance that is both organic and sweet. If you love romance, this is a book you need to put on your radar ASAP.

ARC Review – Stand-Off (Winger #2) by Andrew Smith

24885824Title: Stand-Off (Winger #2)

Author: Andrew Smith

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: It’s his last year at Pine Mountain, and Ryan Dean should be focused on his future, but instead, he’s haunted by his past. His rugby coach expects him to fill the roles once played by his lost friend, Joey, as the rugby team’s stand-off and new captain. And somehow he’s stuck rooming with twelve-year-old freshman Sam Abernathy, a cooking whiz with extreme claustrophobia and a serious crush on Annie Altman—aka Ryan Dean’s girlfriend, for now, anyway.

Equally distressing, Ryan Dean’s doodles and drawings don’t offer the relief they used to. He’s convinced N.A.T.E. (the Next Accidental Terrible Experience) is lurking around every corner—and then he runs into Joey’s younger brother Nico, who makes Ryan Dean feel paranoid that he’s avoiding him. Will Ryan Dean ever regain his sanity?

Huge thank you to Simon Teen Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

After recently reading Winger, I was a bit worried about this sequel. With the way the novel ended, there was a part of me that wasn’t sure where Smith could go with Ryan Dean West’s story. Colour me surprised when I finished Stand-Off and loved it as much as the first book. If I’m being frank, I really love both equally.

This story takes place after a spoil from Winger where Ryan Dean is in his senior year. You’d think Ryan Dean would have some maturity at this point, but when he’s paired with a twelve year old named Sam, well, that maturity goes out the window to say the least. Actually, this relationship easily one of the most humorous and sad at the same time. Sam is so timid and darling, and he’s that kid that you want to hate but you have no real good reason why, and that’s what makes it pretty humorous. However, it also problematic as it shows that Ryan Dean doesn’t want to admit that in some way, he and Sam are fairly similar.

Seriously though, I had a good laugh during parts of Stand-Off, and it really does come from Ryan Dean’s narration. There’s something very sharp, witty, yet kind of wimpy in his voice that I was once again completely drawn too. Yet there’s a darker atmosphere to Ryan Dean in this story since he’s haunted by an event from the previous book, and that stays constant throughout. I love the contrast between the serious elements ofStand-Off and the humour, and I think Smith does a great job of balancing these two aspects in a way that shows Ryan Dean’s development.

And really, that was the huge thing I loved about this sequel. I loved watching Ryan Dean grow as a person — he’s still as troubled as he was in the first book, but he definitely is looking at high school with a much more critical eye in this story, because in some ways he has grown up, and in other ways he is that very immature kid who refuses to grow up. He struggles to get over some of the problems from the first book, but they aren’t issues that you can just “get over” with ease. Smith goes this amazing job of showing Ryan Dean’s struggles in his growth and development, and having Sam be the contrast works so well in making the reader understand him more.

Also, I was super happy with how the relationship between Ryan Dean and Annie was developed in this book. Smith is often criticized for how he writes his female characters, but I thought Annie was a great character and I think her development in this book was solid. There’s one particular part between her and Ryan Dean that I adored simply because it shows young love in its best form — awkward, uncomfortable, and the desire for exploration. They are very cute, but I absolutely love how hard Annie is on Ryan Dean because he often earns it throughout the novel.

I am so sad in a way that I won’t get another Ryan Dean West story, but on the other hand I loved the way this book ended. It was the right kind of ending that makes you smile given all the crap that happens throughout. It’s not a perfect happy ending, and I’m okay with that. At the end of the day, I am happy that a sequel like Stand-Off exists because it feels so right, even if it didn’t seem like it was necessary in the first place. I still don’t think after reading this that I could choose between the books as to which is my favourite, but I really encourage people to check both Winger and Stand-Off if you want to read some great realistic fiction with a great, saucey male lead.


ARC Review – Violent Ends edited by Shaun David Hutchinson

24885763Title:  Violent Ends

Edited By: Shaun David Hutchinson

Rating:  ★★★★★

Synopsis: It took only twenty-two minutes for Kirby Matheson to exit his car, march onto school grounds, enter the gymnasium, and open fire, killing six and injuring five others. But this isn’t a story about the shooting itself. This isn’t about recounting that one unforgettable day. This is about Kirby and how one boy—who had friends, enjoyed reading, played saxophone in the band, and had never been in trouble before—became a monster capable of entering his school with a loaded gun and firing on his classmates.

Each chapter is told from a different victim’s viewpoint, giving insight into who Kirby was and who he’d become. Some are sweet, some are dark; some are seemingly unrelated, about fights or first kisses or late-night parties.

Huge thank you to Simon Teen Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Have you ever read a book that physically affected you? Reading Violent Ends did that to me. It left me shaken and exhausted to the core. What’s worse in the novel hit a little too close to home for me at times, when you’ve been directly or indirectly affected by violence, it’s not an easy feeling to simply wish away.

Violent Ends is a unique beast. Written with seventeen different perspectives, it’s a book that revolves around one teen, and a horrific event that changes his community. What affected me in regards to this story was that I grew up with someone who later in life became a killer.

When I was reading the perspectives of the different characters in the novel, they all provided different versions of Kirby Matheson’s character: someone saw him as a loner, a loser, a great guy, an odd guy — you never feel like you truly know who he is, which I think is part of why this novel works and is so powerful. When we think of killers, we don’t always know the details as to why a crime is committed or how they eventually turned to commit an act. If you’re close to killer or knew them at some point, you can only envision what you know about them from past experiences, and sometimes the person you knew in the past is nowhere near the person they become later on in life. It makes the novel feel very mysterious in a lot of ways based on how each character perceives Kirby’s character, he comes across almost as though he is a chameleon.

Moreover, I loved how each story also manages to stand on its own two feet. Again, you have varying perspectives as some take place before the shooting, some weeks after, and sometimes you are getting the before, in the moment and after all at once. Each story has a boiling point, and it’s one that you know if going to happen, it’s just a simple question of when. I did enjoy that the book doesn’t label which author wrote which story. While some of the writers have a more distinctive style than others, the flow from story to story is well done, and sometimes I’d forget that I was reading a different author’s story because everything feels so inter-connected. If I had to pick favourites, I’d said they were “Miss Susie,” “The Perfect Shot,” “History Lessons,” and “Hypothetical Time Travel.” These four stories in particular stirred a lot of emotion in me, but I think all the stories as a collective are powerful.

Violent Ends will leave you breathless, as it will cause you to ponder the past. It’s terrifying, but thought-provoking. Getting the feelings of seventeen different characters and their perspectives on one event makes for an interesting writing experience, and I feel like this book does so much right in terms of the subject matter is shares. Violent Ends left me haunted, and pondering my past, and it certainly rocked me to my core.