Friday, 16 November 2018

A Map for Wrecked Girls by: Jessica Taylor

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Published: August 15, 2017 by: Dial Books
Pages: 368
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Emma has always idolized her older sister Henri, but their relationship will never be tested more than when they become castaways. When the girls graduation trip goes wrong, they find themselves stranded on a deserted island with only their boating companion with them, a mysterious boy named Alex who houses a lot of secrets. While trying to survive, Henri falls apart, while Emma begins to take on the role of older sister and tries to keep them afloat. As Henri grows less hopeful that they will be rescued, Emma begins to grow closer to Alex, which begins severing the sister bond that the two always had.

I did not think I would enjoy this book as much as I did. I thought it would be cheesy and predictable, but instead the plot kept me entertained from beginning to end. This was a very thrilling novel, and really had me flying through to try and see if the girls really would make it off the island.

I loved the themes explored in this novel. Of course the main is the bond between the two sisters, and how that can fall apart when all hope is lost. I can't even begin to imagine what would happen if my sister and I were trapped on a deserted island, we would probably tear each others hair out! This book really did well at not glossing over their relationship and really showing the detrimental affects that survival can do to a person.

There was one issue I had with this book, and that is Henri. This girl was so.damn.annoying. I totally understand that this is the point of her character. She is stubborn and rebellious, but the choices she made and the way she spoke to her sister just made me want to smack her straight across the face. There were times where I literally cringed at the stuff she was saying. This didn't completely affect how I thought about the book, but just be warned, this character is so damn easy to hate.

Overall, the relationship themes, shadowed by the element of survival on a deserted island, really made me quite interested in this novel. It was easy to get through, but please be aware of how annoying Henri is.

Have you read A Map for Wrecked Girls? What did you think?

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday, 9 November 2018

A Rant about My Creative Writing Course

She's getting a little ranty today! So as some of you may know, I am taking creative writing in school and basically I just have one creative writing course that is required for me to take. Oddly enough, despite being the only course that is directly related to my program, it has easily become my least favourite course. The professor is lazy, and just has the most twisted opinions about creative writing that I need to share. So here is my rant:

First things first, when talking about the publishing industry, this man completely tore apart self-publishing. In his own words, he said: "I honestly don't know why anybody would waste their time with self-publishing. Go out, get an agent, and get yourself properly published. Self-publishing is not real publishing." Like news flash dude, not everybody has the time, money, and especially resources to call up HarperCollins and tell them to publish their book. Self-publishing is a great outlet for people who want to get started but who are not already famous with book deals lined up. For you to say that it's not real publishing, is just an insult to aspiring writers.

Secondly, this man is so protective over what he calls "great literature." Basically, we are all expected to become Ernest Hemingway's and James Joyce's in our writing and all of our writing has to serve this grand purpose and be serious and important. He has absolutely no time for YA, and when I wrote a YA piece for my first assignment, he sent it back saying it was too "Hallmark." Now I'm assuming what he meant by this was that it was like the infamous Hallmark movies, meaning light-hearted and without sustenance, but just the way he said it was so unbelievably condescending.

I'd like to put a disclaimer out here and say that I'm not demanding I got a better mark. I have absolutely no problem with people criticising my writing, and if my assignment was shit, he obviously needed to tell me. However by describing it as "Hallmark," which is not even an academic term, is basically an insult to all writing that leans itself to be light-hearted and not as serious as say, James Joyce. I would also like to point out that after saying this, he literally told me, "you should be adopting a tone similar to the great writers of history, like James Joyce and Hemingway."

Writing is very much subjective, just like all media is, and I think that it is so stupid for somebody to judge a piece of writing just because of the genre and subject matter, and not because of the technicality behind it. I don't expect him to love YA, but if he forces us into one category of writing that basically just says that all our writing has to be serious and live up to Hemingway, then where is the freedom in writing? He has not even gone through any lessons with us on how to craft our writing, all he has done is have us read old famous writers and told us: "this is how you should write."

The class is overall very pretentious, and does nothing to help people find what they love to write, rather tells us what we should be writing. And I think this is stupid, because at the end of the day, sometimes people want a light-hearted, funny story, and we should not be judging others for their preferences.

Like I said before, if my writing isn't great, I'd like to be told that. However when grading becomes less of "this is what you did wrong and this is how you can do better," and more of "your writing does not live up to the standards of the classics," then I think we have a huge problem on our hands. At the end of the day, writing is evolving, and people just need to accept that.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Month in Review: October

I am so excited that Halloween is over so that the Christmas commercials can officially begin! (Yes, I am a Halloween hater, we do exist). But in all seriousness, some really great things did happen in October!

What I Read:

All the Crooked Saints by: Maggie Stiefvater: 2/5 stars
House of Names by: Colm Toibin: 4/5 stars
Exercises in Style by: Raymond Queneau: 4/5 stars

Favourite Book: So as you can see, I didn't get up to a ton of reading in October, mainly because I had a lot on my plate. But I did complete my Goodreads goal three months early, so that takes some of the pressure off! My favourite book of the month was House of Names by: Colm Toibin. It was great to pick up a Greek mythology book after a while.

What I Blogged:

Blogging was kinda few and far between this month, but my favourite post was my review of Maus by: Art Spiegelman. I loved this graphic novel so much and will never stop talking about it to be honest.

Favourite Blog Posts:

Veronika talks Badass Female Heroines

Cee discusses Why Labelling Emotions is Healthy

Anna talks about Representation in Harry Potter

Life Stuff:

Like I said before, I had a lot on my plate this month, mainly the fact that I was retaking my road test on the 24th. I practiced for hours every single day and barely thought about anything else. And guess what? I finally passed! It was a huge relief and I definitely celebrated a bit more than the average person probably does lol. I still have one more road test to complete (Ontario's driving system is very brutal) but this was a huge hurdle to cross.

So that was my month! Very busy, but definitely paid off in the end :) How was your October? Are you as excited for Christmas as I am?

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday, 26 October 2018

Exercises in Style by: Raymond Queneau + Serendipty Agency's YA Discovery Contest

Genre: Fiction, Writing
Published: February 17, 1981 by: New Directions
Pages: 204
Rating: 4/5 stars

Exercises in Style is a fiction-like book that I had to read for my creative writing class. I say fiction-like because the story within is essentially fiction, but the book itself is actually an instructional book on writing. In this book, the same short story about a confrontation on a bus is told over 70 times repeatedly, using different writing styles. One story is written entirely in metaphors, another formatted like an opera. The premise is to show that the possibilities to a writer's voice are endless.

I was very excited to start this book because I thought it would be very cool. I can barely think of 10 ways to write a story, and here, the author has written countless versions of the exact same thing, in formats that I didn't even know existed. It was quite fascinating.

The whole reason I had to read this book in class was for our study on a writer's voice. I myself find it hard as a writer to stick to a distinctive voice, and I don't think that I have truly found mine yet. But this book gave me plenty of ideas, and, while some formats were quite ridiculous, this book also gave me quite a laugh.

Obviously this book tells the same story over and over again, and so it did get repetitive after a while and especially frustrating when I couldn't even understand the format that he chose. But I do recommend this book for any aspiring writers who need help finding a voice.

And speaking of aspiring writers, if you are a new writer of YA, I am proud to feature a contest that may be for you:

Serendipity Literary Agency is hosting their 9th annual YA discovery contest, in which amateur YA writers submit the first 250 words of their novel for a chance to win an entire novel critique from literary agent Regina Brooks. There are also plenty of other opportunities to submit query letters and get discovered by agents. The contest begins November 1st, and you can find out more information on Serendipity Lit's website:

Overall I hope you guys are interested in the contest and best of luck if you do enter! Also, I hope you enjoyed my book review. I rarely ever read writing novels and so I was happy to give this one a feature.

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday, 19 October 2018

The Silver Star by: Jeannette Walls

Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: June 11, 2013 by: Scribner
Pages: 267
Rating: 4/5 stars

Bean Holladay is living in 1970's California when her mother abandons her and her older sister Liz to go "find herself." The sisters get along fine for a while, but when the money runs out they decide to leave California and go live with their patient Uncle Tinsley in Virginia. While there, Bean learns more about her father's past in the war, and while she becomes fascinated with family history, her once bright sister begins to slip deeper into a depression, and is soon abused by the town bully, a wealthy man named Jerry Maddox. Soon Bean will have to take on the role of big sister, as well as learn more about the complicated race and class relations in 1970's Virginia.

Last summer I seemed to be on a mission to read whatever Jeanette Walls book I could get my hands on. I love her writing and I always seem to be fully captivated in all of her books. The worlds she creates are just incredible. While this book did keep me fully engrossed, it wasn't necessarily my favourite of hers, and this is mostly because of I think when a white writer is writing about race, there are always some issues needing to be brought up.

First off on a positive note, I did love the concept of this book. I think Walls did a great job at capturing the atmosphere of the South during the 70's, and the characters were also very well written. Bean was courageous and optimistic, and I really felt for Liz. Walls wrote amazing characters and made me feel a lot of emotion for them.

I was kept engaged through the entire book, however I did find some issues with some of the terms that Walls used. While I totally understand that she is writing a very harsh depiction of racial issues in Virginia during the time, frequent use of the n-word really shocked me because at the end of the day, she is a white author. Her white characters really do speak negatively and stereotypically of the black characters, and again, while this definitely did happen during the time, I wonder if Walls consulted black men and women living during the time period to draw upon their experiences. I cannot speak to whether or not the use of the n-word is ok in this context because I am not a black blogger, but I would love to read black reviewers thoughts on the subject. It just didn't sit well with me.

Overall, this book definitely had some great aspects to it, but like I said, I need to read some reviews from POC bloggers to see their opinions. It definitely did get me thinking.

Have you read The Silver Star? What did you think?

Friday, 5 October 2018

Maus: A Survivor's Tale by: Art Spiegelman

Genre: Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction
Published: November 1, 1991 by: Pantheon Books
Pages: 159
Rating: 5/5 stars

In an attempt to reconnect with his cantankerous and ailing father, Art Spiegelman begins writing and illustrating a story about his father's experiences as a prisoner in Auschwitz. As his father recounts the blurry details of a horrific past, Art splits between writing about the war, and about how he wishes his father was less stubborn and a bit more compassionate to his patient wife. This graphic novel is a story about the gruesome details of the Holocaust, but it is also about the long-term affects that the war had on the elderly, and the relationships severed because of it.

This book was flawless. The illustrations were poignant, heartbreaking, and so incredibly real, and the story of Art's father was heartbreaking. What's unique about this book is that Art uses the metaphor of the cat and mouse in his illustrations. All Jews in the book are drawn as mice, and all Nazi's are drawn as cats. These details really show the harsh authority that took over the war, and the innocence of the victims.

I loved how this graphic novel didn't really read like one. I do not like graphic novels that have too many pictures and not enough text, but this one was overflowing with rich dialogue that felt like I was reading just a regular book. You can tell that Art is as talented a writer as he is an illustrator.

This book is special because it flips between Art's father in the 1940's, and how he is now. You can really see the affect that the Holocaust had on his mental health, and that has made the relationship with his son difficult. This is a brilliant novel that explores much more than you ever thought you knew about the Holocaust.

Have you read Maus? What did you think?

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday, 28 September 2018

Month in Review: September

I have been so busy this month I barely literally forgot I was reading a book. But, I did survive the first month of second year, although I am exhausted. Here's what happened in September:

What I Read: 

Little Fires Everywhere by: Celeste Ng: 5/5 stars 
Maus II: A Here My Troubles Began by: Art Spiegelman: 5/5 stars 
Pretty Madcap Dorothy by: Laura Jean Libbey: 1/5 stars 
Titus Andronicus by: William Shakespeare: 4/5 stars
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by: Emily M. Danforth: 4/5 stars 

Favourite book: Little Fires Everywhere was my favourite book of the month. It was suspenseful, dramatic, and beautifully written. I finished it all in about a day, and I definitely want to read more from Celeste Ng. 

What I Blogged: 

I had a good old talk with a lot of you guys about Writer's Block and feeling uninspired. Thanks to you, I now feel motivated to just post what I love and I am looking forward to the future. 

Favourite Blog Posts: 

Based on my writer's block post, Cee posted her own post about how to combat writer's block that I think a lot of you may find helpful. Check it out: 7 Radical Ways to Defeat Writer's Block

Life Stuff: 

Uhm, it's been a month. The stress of second year and having to go back to reality after a really fun summer took its toll on me, and I found myself really sad and anxious most of the time. I don't really love my school schedule and I have also switched jobs in the process which means more time devoted to learning a whole new job, and stressing over not doing things correctly. But hopefully with my fall break and Thanksgiving coming up in a week, I will feel a lot better.

 So that was my September. How was yours? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess