Friday, 7 December 2018

Circe by: Madeline Miller

Genre: Fiction, Mythology
Published: April 10, 2018 by: Little, Brown and Company
Pages: 393
Rating: 5/5 stars



Circe was born to the God Helios, but, unlike her powerful father and siblings, she is mousy and quiet, an outcast amongst the titans. However when Circe discovers that she possesses the power of witchcraft, she begins to use that power to help the mortals that she has grown to love. When Zeus becomes threatened, Circe is banished to an island, where she comes across many famous mythological beasts and heroes, notably Odysseus on his way back to Ithaca. But when Circe comes to face one of the most vicious Olympians, she must choose between the godly world in which her powers thrive, or the mortal world in which she feels she truly belongs.

I would be happily content in just reading Madeline Miller books for the rest of my life. Seriously though, when I found out that Miller was writing another book after I finished The Song of Achilles, I knew it would be amazing. I absolutely love Greek mythology with all of my heart and she gives me everything I could ever want in mythology books.

*Funny anecdote about The Song of Achilles, I was at Indigo yesterday with my dad and he took me over to where TSoA was on a shelf and said he thought I might like it. DAD IF ONLY YOU KNEW.

Lol, anyways, Circe was a beautifully written story with the incredible imagery that always draws me to Miller's writing. This book was particularly special because it had a lot of feminist undertones to it. Circe is fiercely independent, and watching her grow into this powerful woman was amazing.

I really enjoyed the integration of a number of mythological figures, but her interactions with Odysseus were by far my favourite. It was a great nod to The Song of Achilles, but this book truly does stand on its own. Circe is an amazing character that you can't help but root for.

Overall, this is a book that I will re-read time and time again. Now to wait patiently for Miller's next book :)

Have you read Circe? What did you think?

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday, 30 November 2018

Month in Review: November


November absolutely flew by and now I am officially in Christmas mode. I am happy the semester is almost over, but it will still be not exactly a holiday for me as I still have to work. *sigh.* Anyways, here's what happened in November!

What I Read: 

Shatter Me by: Tahereh Mafi: 4/5 stars
Lies You Never Told Me by: Jennifer Donaldson: 3/5 stars

Look who got up to a lot of reading in November!!! *sobs.* Hopefully with Christmas rolling around, I will get to buy a lot more books and reading will be more a priority.

Favourite Book: I re-read Shatter Me because I first read it about two years ago and wanted to give it a second shot. It was really good, although I don't think it will be a series that I will obsess over.

What I Blogged: 

My favourite blog post of the month was my Rant About my Creative Writing Course. It felt GREAT to get some things off my chest.

Favourite Blog Posts of the Month:

Cee asks that we Remember Them, Too 

Veronika and Clare try to Beat the Backlist 

Life Stuff: 

Nothing major, just work and school. I have a lot of end of term essays to do, and it is evident that I am not doing as well as I did in first year. But alas, we will persevere and hopefully get through the term with semi-ok marks!

That was my November! How was yours?

Emily @ Paperback Princess


Friday, 23 November 2018

The Girls by: Emma Cline

Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: June 14, 2016 by: Random House
Pages: 355
Rating: 2/5 stars



In late 1960's California, lonely teenager Evie Boyd is looking to belong somewhere. When she sees a group of girls in the park, she is automatically enthralled by their carefree sense of self, and becomes especially fascinated with Suzanne, a charismatic older girl who takes Evie under her wing. But Evie doesn't know that Suzanne and her crew are apart of a soon to be infamous cult, and when she eventually meets their leader, she is thrown into a world of unspeakable violence, that will haunt her into her adult years.

I needed a cold shower after reading this book. It is about the Manson cult, and was equally disturbing as it was absolutely frustrating. I hate to sound insensitive when writing this review, because at the end of the day, Evie is not to blame for everything that happened to her given the fact that she was just a child, but some of the decisions she made throughout the novel were so unbelievably stupid and I feel like she never really realized how messed up of a situation she was in! For these reasons, I found it hard to root for her.

I think this novel romanticized the cult aspect just a little bit. The way that the author writes is very dream-like and descriptive, and because of this, a lot of serious things seemed glossed over. There is also a lot of sexualization of teenagers in this novel, so I would not go into this if you're looking for a light read.

I do think that looking at this novel from a sociological perspective was its only saving grace. I have learnt about cults in a few sociology classes, and I do think this book could be interesting to those studying that element of belonging, especially in teenagers. There was something interesting in this book, but it didn't make me forget all of the disturbing content.

I don't think a chapter goes by that doesn't include something triggering, so trigger warnings wise, beware of sexual assault of minors, drug use, violence and murder. So in conclusion, it was a delightful novel!!! (sarcasm)

Like I said, if you're a sociology student, this could actually be interesting, but the characters were extremely unlikable and I couldn't get past all the content.

Have you read The Girls? What did you think?

Emily @ Paperback Princess

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: http://serendipitylit.com/contest

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