Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Aladdin: Far From Agrabah by Aisha Saeed

Title: Aladdin: Far From Agrabah
Author: Aisha Saeed
Publisher: Disney Press
Publication date: April 2, 2019
Pages: 336
Source/format: Hardcover from Penguin Random House

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from

This stunning original novel will tell an all-new story set in the world of the new film, featuring Aladdin and Jasmine. A magic carpet ride full of adventure, suspense, and wonder written by New York Times Bestselling author Aisha Saeed, this story will be a must-read for any Aladdin fans who find themselves drawn into and enchanted by the magical world of Agrabah and beyond.


Aladdin: Far From Agrabah is perfect for fans Disney's Aladdin. Aisha Saeed creatively reinvents the Disney classic we grew to love as well as retelling the original story of "Aladdin and the Magic Lamp" from The Book of One Thousand and One Nights. In Saeed's retelling of Aladdin, Saeed gives insight and a better understanding of the song "A Whole New World" beyond the magic carpet ride. There is more to Aladdin besides the wonderful music Disney can provide was with.

The novel starts with Jasmine scanning the hall during the Harvest Festival. She had just met Aladdin a few days prior. Aladdin: Far From Agrabah is an excellent retelling that not only touches upon some of the elements people love about Disney's Aladdin, but it creates a new parallel world where readers can explore the true spirit of how Aladdin and Jasmine fall for each other. Saeed's version of Aladdin captures the heart and readers learn more about the characters' backstories and personalities. Exploring Ababwa and seeing Genie's capabilities bring a smile to my face.

Aladdin is able to dazzle and wow Jasmine when he takes her to Ababwa at her insisting. Fictionalized Ababwa is an extension of Aladdin. It contains his memories of people and a history of himself. Yet, it also includes things that Jasmine would appreciate. Aladdin and Jasmine begin to bond over the memories of their lost parents. Aladdin invites Jasmine to help with an open advisory council meeting where the common people will ask Aladdin questions and for advice. Aladdin lets Jasmine be part of the meeting and treats her like an equal to listen and to dole out advice. The cartography shop is the icing on the cake for Jasmine. Aladdin is able to share desserts with Jasmine at a version of his favorite bakery. An embodiment of a younger Aladdin appears which Jasmine sympathizes with but Aladdin cannot let her know that it is him.

The curveball with the real so-called villain in the made-up Ababwa is perfect. It shows that even in an ideal world, it cannot exist without some flaws. Somehow a mysterious person steals the magical carpet which puts Aladdin in a difficult situation. I am sorry for readers who are hoping that Jafar pops up in this retelling because he is not the villain in this storyline.

The novel is told in dual POVs. Aisha Saeed delivers the thoughts, desires and emotions of both Aladdin and Jasmine. However, Aladdin knows that he cannot give everything Jasmine wants because his Ababwa is a kingdom of lies. This is a novel spanning a very short period of time. Aladdin: Far From Agrabah covers the time span when Prince Ali visits Princess Jasmine at the palace of Agrabah until the next day after the magic carpet ride. I highly recommend this novel for anyone who loves Aladdin. Enjoy the magical ride!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Shout Event Recap with Laurie Halse Anderson and Jaclyn Friedman

I was fortunate enough to attend the Shout event at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA on Wednesday, March 13th. Laurie Halse Anderson was in conversation with Jaclyn Friedman. Thank you to Harvard Book Store and Penguin Random House for hosting the book event. The Shout conversation was an empowering one. Laurie was able to talk more about the trauma she went through when she was younger and how she was raped. Speak was written in part of her experiences. 20 years later, Shout is out covering more of Laurie's experiences through poetic verse. Shout is a memoir filled with rage.

Jaclyn asked Laurie if she can reflect how talking about young people has changed her in the last 20 years. Laurie said event things has changed in 10 years. Now there is more sex positivity than before but the conversation hasn't shifted much regarding sex education. These conversations haven't happened with children and teenagers. She said, "we are failing the kids." Kids are only taught about not getting pregnant or not to get STDs. They are not taught about how someone can be raped or sexually abused. 90% of attackers are people you know. Laurie talks about how we need to teach basic information about consent to young people. This is an age of offering to take care of oneself instead of sucking it up and moving on. That mentality has changed. It's not about dealing with it.

I appreciate how Laurie opens up the event with her telling her audience that if they need to step out because of what is being said in the conversation, that it is fine. If they need to get some air to clear the mind, they are free to do so. The conservation can be a trigger for some if they went through some trauma regarding abuse.

Jaclyn mentioned how people shouldn't be taking advantage of others. She talks about how "it's not a gain of acquisition." We need to change the attitude of sex. We need to nix the predator and prey formatting. "That's violence, not sex." Laurie talks about it goes back to the history of colonization and the dominance of white people over others. There is room on the table for everyone for conversation. She also mentions how this is more than just cis-gendered. This involves everyone.

Laurie wrote Shout in 2017 during the backlash of the #metoo movement.  She mentions how "that book was written in fire." She wrote in rage about her experience and about what others are feeling when they are being taken advantage of. Laurie was raped when she was 13 right before she entered the 9th grade. She didn't tell anyone what happened for about 23 years. Her PTSD and depression were getting worse. Laurie came from a decade of shame and it was hard to open up what happened to her. She listens to stories of survivors of sexual violence. She said, "It's on us. I know the conversation is hard. It's not a elephant in the room. It's the elephant sitting on everyone's chest."

Laurie mentioned that when she writes the next book in the companion series, it will be called Listen. Speak, Shout and Listen. It is important to listen with real presence and love.

Jaclyn asked Laurie, "can you talk about what clicked in place for you?" During the rest of 9th grade, Laurie was high. People deal with their problems by numbing themselves. When her gym teacher told her, "you're big" in terms of size, this motivated her to join a team. She did swimming and was good a shotput. When talking about educators, Laurie says, "I'm not dead because of you." She thanks all educators whether they are teachers, tutors, coaches, etc. that they help students live. The job of a teacher or an educator is more than a subject. Children are thriving because of educators. There are changing generations of families. Laurie also tells the audience to support teacher's unions and their cause.

Laurie talks about how her aunt tells her to "follow your nightmares" instead of following your dreams. There is a kindred spirit to understand existence through books, music, etc. These forms of expression encourage human community and interaction together. She tells everyone not to be afraid of nightmares. "It's going to keep chasing you. You need to face them." Laurie encourages everyone to find spaces that are safe enough to discuss their pain. People need to access rage and channel it in a way that it is not destructive.

When Jaclyn and Laurie talk about how Laurie names her rapist It, Laurie talks about how by calling him It, it dehumanizes him. It takes the power away from him. Laurie's novel, Speak, is only 10% about her experience. She transmuted her experience through Speak. Melinda in Speak nicknames people she doesn't like but keeps the true names for people she likes. But sometimes, giving someone a certain name gives them more power. Laurie talks about how calling Voldemort He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is essentially giving Voldemort more power since people fear his name.  

Laurie read one of the poems from Shout to the audience. She read "Against Innocence," which talks about the idea of innocence, oppression and suffering. She talks about what everyone's idea is about innocence. This segwayed to her talking about censorship. Many people try to censor children from reading her books. She calls censorship ignorance. Laurie talks about how parents don't want their children to read her books because of the topics conveyed in them. The reason is because parents love their children and the parents will "protect" their children. Laurie mentions how there needs to be a sense of openness to help. The parents are shielding their children away from everything; they shield them away from awkward conversations. But these awkward conversations need to happen. Laurie sees this as an opportunity for bridge building.

Jaclyn asked Laurie what her parents think of Shout. Laurie mentioned that her parents passed but she said her mother would be pissed. Her father used to be a poet. Writing about people living is protecting them in a gentle manner. Her father used to say, "the dead owns the truth." With his PTSD, it led to alcoholism and eventually to violence. The Impossible Knife of Memory is about Laurie and her father through Haley and Haley's father. I highly recommend reading The Impossible Knife of Memory. It's one of my favorite books by Laurie besides Speak and Shout.

Jaclyn asks Laurie, "Are you optimistic about the future? What do you see in store for you in the future? Laurie talks about how there is a responsibility to show as a survivor and to be a role model. There is more acceptance of LGBTQIA+ people now. There is a sense of identity searching and finding where you fit in and belong. She never knew she would see the day where gay marriage would exist. Because of that, she sees lots of opportunities in the future for all people. "The country will fulfil equality when people accept each other. Revolutions are always led by young people. I have faith in these children."

Jacklyn asked Laurie if she considers herself a brave person. Laurie exclaimed, "I am a person who stopped wasting energy thinking what other people think of me." Laurie talks about "how bravery is not absence of fear; bravery is a skill set to practice. The more you practice, the braver you get."

One audience member asked how do you approach a student who talks about betas, incels, MRA, etc.? Laurie said behavior is communication. Why is this boy saying these things to his friends and classmates? The student needs to be surrounded by love and opportunities. As an educator, this may be a yellow flag. Perhaps a guidance counselor might intervene to see if there is any violence occurring within the student's life. The adult community should be aware of what the student has been saying. Students often keep emotions bottled up. How do we help them?

The most important thing is that they need to feel safe. For Laurie, her silence is a survivor tool. We need to acknowledge that we need to fix ourselves. We need to be present for the person in need. We need a support system, an open door of conversation. But we cannot force that door open. Jaclyn mentioned how being unashamed about your feelings and your emotional state can be liberating for others to see. It’s about being a model for others. Don’t assume things and don’t badger people.

Overall, the conversation between Laurie and Jaclyn was an informative one. It's a conversation that I wish everyone was able to be present at. We need to make changes and acknowledge that change takes time but we need to be open to these changes. Things aren't the same as before. We need to voice out our opinions and take a stand in what we believe in. We need to be our own activist. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Far Away by Lisa Graff

Title: Far Away
Author: Lisa Graff
Publisher: Philomel Books
Publication date: March 5, 2019
Pages: 272
Source/format: Hardcover from Penguin Random House

Rating: ☆☆☆1/2

Synopsis (from

A book about life, loss, and the secrets families keep, reminiscent of Sharon Creech’s Walk Two Moons, by National Book Award nominee Lisa Graff.

CJ lives and travels with her Aunt Nic, a famous psychic medium who tours the country communicating with her audience’s deceased loved ones at sold-out theaters. Together, they give people closure and forgiveness, and pass important messages on from the Spirit world. While CJ doesn’t have her aunt’s same ability to talk to the dead, she enjoys playing a crucial role in connecting others with their dearly departed. After all, she knows firsthand what it’s like to lose someone she loves—the only way she can talk to her mom, who died hours after CJ was born, is through Aunt Nic.

But when a magician bent on proving that Aunt Nic is a fraud shows up at their shows, CJ learns an impossible truth—that her mother is actually still very much alive. Now CJ no longer knows who to trust. As she learns more unsettling family secrets, CJ must grapple with the lies she’s been told and the lies she’s helped perpetuate. And in the end, she must decide how to reconcile what it means to find her true family and home—and what it means to forgive.

A poignant, heartfelt novel that explores the lengths we go to protect those we love—and how that impulse can often lead us down difficult roads.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Caraway June (CJ) Ames lives with her Aunt Nic, a psychic medium who communicates with the dead and constantly travel across the country. CJ was told her mother passed away when CJ was a baby and CJ's mother is able to talk through Aunt Nic. CJ befriends Jax Degaldo, her friend Oscar's nephew. I enjoyed reading how CJ teaches 16-year-old Jax how to drive stick despite her being only 12-years-old. CJ and Jax form a friendship bond and they go on a cross country road trip to find a tether to CJ's mother's spirit. When they get a clue about her mother's home town of Bakersfield, they travel to talk to a couple regarding CJ's mother's friend's parents.

Lisa Graff weaves in magical realism within Far Away. The ink drawing of the octopus that appears in multiple places is symbolic. The messages vary from "Take Heed" to "Slow Down" and CJ thinks it's her mother sending warnings. A man named Gerald explains that people are "Charmed" with the octopi. I loved seeing how to octopus is incorporated into the book as drawings long the pages of the book.

When CJ finds out that her mother is still alive and is not living in the land of Far Away, she feels disappointed and feels a sense of betrayal from her aunt and her mother. CJ never questioned whether the messages Aunt Nic conveyed about CJ's mother are indeed from her mother. She always assumed that Aunt Nic is telling her the truth. CJ loses faith and wants answers to her questions.

I feel like we need more information about why Aunt Nic lied to CJ and how CJ's mother wasn't in CJ's life. CJ should have been more furious about what happened but she forgives very easily which I was surprised about. I wanted more closure at the end of the book. 

Far Away is a coming-of-age story about a 12-year-old girl who learns the shocking truth about her mother from a secret that has been kept for many years. This road trip journey is about discovering oneself and about true friendship.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Killing November by Adriana Mather

Title: Killing November
Author: Adriana Mather
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication date: March 26, 2019
Pages: 368
Source/format: ARC // The Horn Book

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Synopsis (from

It’s a school completely off the grid, hidden by dense forest and surrounded by traps. There’s no electricity, no internet, and an eye-for-an-eye punishment system. Classes include everything from Knife-Throwing and Poisons to the Art of Deception and Historical Analysis. And all of the students are children of the world’s most elite strategists—training to become assassins, counselors, spies, and master impersonators. Into this world walks November Adley, who quickly discovers that friends are few in a school where personal revelations are discouraged and competition is everything. When another student is murdered, all eyes turn to November, who must figure out exactly how she fits into the school’s bizarre strategy games before she is found guilty of the crime…or becomes the killer’s next victim.

M Y  T  H O U G H T S

November Adley, originally from Pembrook, CT, ends up at Academy Absconditi and is a late transfer at the age of 17-years-old. Although November has no clue where she is and how she arrived at Academy Absconditi, she learns that she must play to survive. She learns quickly to acclimate to her surroundings since it's life or death while she discovers many secrets regarding her family's history.

Adriana Mather has wowed me with Killing November. Not only does the synopsis of November being stuck at a boarding school for assassins is awesome but there is so much intrigue of how November ended up at the academy and who can she trust. The characters are all unique and they have traits that separate each apart despite the many characters mentioned in the novel. Ash is definitely my favorite character. He has a sense of pride in him but he likes to skirt the rules a bit. He values attention and is stunned when November verbalizes her beliefs that might be on the contrary instead of just accepting the way things they are. I love the banter between Ash and November. They argue like they are siblings but it's something closer and more personal than arguing with his twin sister, Layla. At first I didn't warm up to Layla but she grew on me. Layla is constantly researching and even though she is not as physically active in pursuing people like the others at the academy, she clandestinely undercovers many clues to figure out who's the killer amongst the students.

The romance between Ash and November is a slow burning one. They don't trust each other at first but they slowly become good friends to the point where Ash takes a flying knife to save her. I mean how many people will take a bullet or knife to save someone? They know they can not become closer than friends but they cannot deny their feelings for each other. Oh the forbidden love! Love can be a weakness for assassins and one a lot of people take seriously. It's hard to tell who your true allies and enemies are when everyone has a good poker face. Even some sworn enemies like Matteo and Aarya end up helping November at the end when they figure out who the actual killer is.

November asks too many questions but some people might see that as a tactic while others think she is plain naïve. November pieces a lot of information when she was a child to present day at the academy such as qualities of stuffed animals like her stuffed bear. She learns those subtle things that her parents did or said contributed to some of the family secrets her parents harbored. I enjoyed reading snippets of November's past woven into chapters of when she is conquering obstacles and everyday life at the Academy Absconditi. With no electricity and living in a very old world location, students at the academy have fewer distractions so they can focus on learning to master being assassins. These students come from old Strategia family lines. These families originated as the advisors to rulers of empires.

Killing November is an atmospheric, action-packed, secretive and deadly thriller. The novel is chock full of history, name meanings, major plotting and an intrigue that keeps the pace of the book moving. Digging deeper under the many layers, November finds out how her family connects with the history of the Academy Absconditi and the major families. With her own unconventional upbringing, she conquerors many obstacles at the Academy Absconditi seizing an advantage over her peers. Although she is not well versed in the family history of the Strategia, she is a quick learner of what she needs to do to stay alive.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

An Affair of Poisons Blog Tour: Review + Playlist + Favorite Quotes

Thank you to Fantastic Flying Book Club and Page Street Kids for the opportunity to take part of this wonderful blog tour! I absolutely adored An Affair of Poisons by Addie Thorley. I hope readers enjoy my review, favorite quotes and the hand picked songs for the playlist!

Title: An Affair of Poisons
Author: Addie Thorley
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Release Date: February 26th 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Kobo

Rating: ☆☆☆☆1/2

Synopsis (from

After unwittingly helping her mother poison King Louis XIV, seventeen-year-old alchemist Mirabelle Monvoisin is forced to see her mother’s Shadow Society in a horrifying new light: they’re not heroes of the people, as they’ve always claimed to be, but murderers. Herself included. Mira tries to ease her guilt by brewing helpful curatives, but her hunger tonics and headache remedies cannot right past wrongs or save the dissenters her mother vows to purge.

Royal bastard Josse de Bourbon is more kitchen boy than fils de France. But when the Shadow Society assassinates the Sun King and half the royal court, he must become the prince he was never meant to be in order to save his injured sisters and the petulant Dauphin. Forced to hide in the derelict sewers beneath the city, any hope of reclaiming Paris seems impossible—until Josse’s path collides with Mirabelle’s, and he finds a surprising ally in his sworn enemy.

She's a deadly poisoner. He's a bastard prince. Together, they form a tenuous pact to unite the commoners and former nobility against the Shadow Society. But can a rebellion built on mistrust ever hope to succeed?


Addie Thorley spent her childhood playing soccer, riding horses, and scribbling stories. After graduating from the University of Utah with a degree in journalism, she decided “hard news” didn’t contain enough magic and kissing, so she flung herself into the land of fiction and never looked back.

She now lives in Princeton, New Jersey with her husband, daughter, and wolf dog. When she’s not writing she can be found gallivanting in the woods or galloping around the barn where she works as a horse trainer and exercise rider.

AN AFFAIR OF POISONS is her debut novel.
Website | Goodreads | Twitter


An Affair of Poisons is loosely based on the real La Voisin and real affaire des poisons which was a massive murder scandal back in the late 17th century during the reign of King Louis XIV in Paris, France. From the first line, An Affair of Poisons's atmospheric descriptions tantalize all five senses.

Mirabelle is the daughter of one of the most influential Shadow Society members. Her mother is an alchemist who brews poisons during the age of King Louis XIV in France. Mira is her mother's assistant along with Gris, an orphan a couple years older than Mira. Mira is tested in an initiation to the Shadow Society by proving herself with small tasks like poisoning the Duc de Barra, who is a vile man, but her mother and fellow Shadow Society peers fail to tell her that she is actually formulating a poison to kill the Sun King.

Mira is distraught that she has murdered someone she doesn't plan to kill. Her mother has deceived her. Mira finds out that the Shadow Society is plotting to overthrow the aristocrats and to take over the city. Mira's older sister, Marguerite, is always held on a pedestal while Mother treats Mira like a mere laboratory assistant compared to a daughter. Mira misses her father, who died in an explosion when she was younger. Her father loved alchemy. He said, "You will be a great alchemist one day, he used to tell me. Greater than I was." Mother despises Mira for following the footsteps of her father.

Josse is the bastard illegitimate son of the Sun King but a lot of people do not know he is the son of a maid compared to his sisters and brother who are born out of royalty. Josse tries to lead his siblings to safety after his parents are murdered. The unlikely pair of a prince and a poisoner eventually join forces. They are on the opposite tracks. One grew up in luxury and the other one in poverty.

Mira is kept hostage by Josse and his friend Desgrez. They want to use her to barter with the Shadow Society but no avail since Mira's mother doesn't give into the demands. Josse goes against the Dauphin in order for Mira to heal the sisters. Josse and Mira escape in hiding from the Shadow Society. Mira creates tinctures and curatives to help the poor. Readers see how Mira is caught in the middle to do what is right for the people or do obey the wishes of her mother despite the deadly results. Mira has great strength where she finds a way to prevail. She becomes La Vie and brews remedies to the awful poisons La Voisin distributes. Mira becomes the driving hope for the rebellion against the Shadow Society.

The chapters of the novel alternate between Mira's and Josse's point of views. Addie Thorley penned a story with a lot of socio-economic and political issues during 17th century Paris where readers see the differences between the rich and the poor. You feel the struggle of the common people while they fight for their lives. Even Josse has the idea to try to unite the nobility and the common people to overthrow La Voisin and the Shadow Society. With La Vie and Josse at the lead of a rebellion, they win the loyalty of the people.

Gris is definitely an understated character within the novel but without him, Mira would have not succeeded with the rebellion. He is able to play a part on two sides. The most heartbreaking scene in the novel is when Gris makes a sacrifice at the end of the book. I was in awe. Without his detailed planning, the Shadow Society would have won and Mira and Josse would have been heavily punished. Perhaps there is an underlying love and mutual respect between Mira and Gris. I would love to read more about Gris's point of view.

Thorley's research regarding the real events provided her a canvas to tweak history and it allowed her to weave in new personalities within her novel. Many of the characters are based on people that were involved with the murderous events that took place in France. Some names were changed in order the streamline the key characters. Although the real La Voisin only had one daughter who was stuck in the middle between two sides, Thorley decided to include two daughters in her novel. One daughter supports La Voisin and one defies La Voisin to lead a rebellion.

An Affair of Poisons is an intoxicating historical fantasy full of deceit, a test of loyalty and treachery. This book is highly recommended for readers who enjoyed reading Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, EnchantéeStalking Jack the Ripper and/or Les Misérables.


"You will be a great alchemist one day, he used to tell me. Greater than I was."

"I always imagine Hell would be hota lake of fire and brimstone and all that. But Hell, it turns out, is being trapped in these dank, freezing sewer tunnels, helpless to stop the eerie green specks from spreading like ink beneath my sister's skin."

"In a whirl of lace and stain, Francoise and Anne turn. We raise our hands, and I know the instant they spot us. It’s like the moment herbs coalesce inside a cauldron—coming together to form something greater, something stronger, something whole. Their eyes spark with recognition, and their squeals of delight are more healing than any antipoison, more fortifying than any elixir or draught.


I put together this playlist as I read An Affair of Poisons. In fact, I had quite a lot of songs for this playlist but I had to make some cuts to hone on the true essence of the book. The selection of songs contain some oldie classics, some contemporary songs, some instrumentals and some eccentricities. I hope you enjoy the playlist!

1. Ashes - Radical Face
2. Belladonna - Siouxsie and the Banshees
3. Killer Queen - Queen
4. Royals - Lorde
5. Under Your Spell - The Birthday Massacre
6. The Healing - Bloc Party
7. Hiding - Florence + The Machine
8. My Enemy - CHVRCHES
9. Hunger - Of Monsters and Men
10. Barricade - Interpol
11. Imperfection - Evanescence
12. Haunted - Poe
13. Head Above Water - Avril Lavigne
14. Alchemy - Johnny Hollow


Check out this awesome giveaway. Giveaway ends on Tuesday, March 19, 2019. Nicole's Novel Reads is not responsible for books lost or damaged in the mail. Good luck!


Check out the official tour schedule below or at this link.


MARCH 6th 

Tale Out Loud - Review + Favourite Quotes


GingerSnapHattie - Review + Dream Cast + Playlist
Nicole's Novel Reads - Review + Playlist + Favourite Quotes
Wishful Endings - Promotional Post

MARCH 8th 

Dazzled by Books - Review + Favourite Quotes
Bibliobibuli YA - Promotional Post


Magical Reads - Review + Dream Cast
String of Pages - Review
Confessions of a YA Reader - Promotional Post

MARCH 10th

Book Princess Reviews - Review + Favourite Quotes
The Clever Reader - Review + Dream Cast + Favourite Quotes
A Dream Within A Dream - Promotional Post

MARCH 11th

Camillea Reads - Review + Favourite Quotes

Monday, March 4, 2019

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

Title: Shout
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Viking Books
Publication date: March 12, 2019
Pages: 304
Source/format: e-ARC from Penguin Random House

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Synopsis (from

A searing poetic memoir and call to action from the bestselling and award-winning author of Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson!

Bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson is known for the unflinching way she writes about, and advocates for, survivors of sexual assault. Now, inspired by her fans and enraged by how little in our culture has changed since her groundbreaking novel Speak was first published twenty years ago, she has written a poetry memoir that is as vulnerable as it is rallying, as timely as it is timeless. In free verse, Anderson shares reflections, rants, and calls to action woven between deeply personal stories from her life that she's never written about before. Searing and soul-searching, this important memoir is a denouncement of our society's failures and a love letter to all the people with the courage to say #metoo and #timesup, whether aloud, online, or only in their own hearts. Shout speaks truth to power in a loud, clear voice-- and once you hear it, it is impossible to ignore.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

After Speak was published 20 years ago, Laurie Halse Anderson comes out with Shout, a book written in free verse prose during this #MeToo movement. The contents in the book contain some of Anderson's most exposed moments and thoughts in her life. Anderson has been one of my favorite authors since I first read Speak about 15 plus years ago when I was a teenager. She writes about real life issues that many can relate to. Anderson doesn't sugar coat anything. She writes with absolute candor.

The prose is swift and to the point. It describes the feelings at a time when someone is the most vulnerable. However, these reflections breathe hope and confidence to voice out Anderson has to say. These rants and calls to action need to be heard. There is no backing down. There is no hiding. There is no turning back. She lets society know that she has been violated against her will. The truth needs to be heard.

The first part is more focused on reflection in Anderson's memoir. She tells the story of her life as she grows up and what she endures during her childhood into adulthood. She tells the readers how she has been defiled and has been taken advantage of so many times in her life. The second part hones in with Anderson connecting with other survivors and about others' stories. The third part describes a little bit about Anderson's family history and a thank you for listening. The formatting of the writing is the perfect way to convey Anderson's deepest secrets. The short poems are more powerful because Anderson has control over how she wants the layout of the words to look like. Layout communicates a lot of meaning beyond words. The pace ramps up the more pages you read. It starts softly like a spoken whisper and shifts into a raging shout. There is power in a voice. From speaking out to shouting. Everyone needs to be heard!

"First Blood" is one of the most powerful poems in the memoir. Anderson talks about what was the norm and what was legal in 1972. Today in 2019, many of things are illegal, falling under Title IX. Our society is changing, changing better for the lives of everyone.

Shout, an empowering memoir is poetic, harrowing and uplifting at the same time. It's about how to advocate for yourself and others who went through similar situations. It makes you think about how many people who have been denied basic human rights. I encourage everyone to read Shout and Anderson's debut book, Speak. I also recommend reading The Impossible Knife of Memory, which is also by Anderson. The Impossible Knife of Memory centers around Hayley and Hayley's father who has PTSD.

Warning: There are instances of domestic violence, assault, PTSD, alcoholism, rape and substance abuse in this memoir.