Friday, 19 May 2017

Lullabies for Little Criminals by: Heather O' Neill

Genre: Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Published: October 17, 2006 by: Harper Perennial
Pages: 330
Rating: 4/5 stars

At just thirteen years old, Baby has had to grow up too fast. With a single father with a serious heroin habit, and living in the red light district of Montreal, Baby has seen things that most children grow up years not knowing much about. Throughout her years, she makes friends. Some good, and some bad, but it is her growing relationship with a local pimp that finally makes her dad look up and get involved. Baby has been put into some dangerous situations, but will she be able to get out?

Wow. This book was just: wow. It was incredibly disturbing, and sad, and uncomfortable. And yet, I somehow couldn't put it down. I was shocked at how everything seemed so real, and so poignant. It almost read like a memoir, and although I'm pretty sure it wasn't, it was incredibly compelling to read.

First things off, these characters were unlike any I've read before. The thing with Baby is, that her norm is so different to any other 13-year old. Because of this, she talks about things that she believes in that we would never dream believe was right. For example, she think it's normal for a 40 year old pimp to be with her, she thinks that it's normal that her father sometimes overdoses and is in the hospital from time to time. It's so interesting to see the mindset of someone who has been immersed in such hardship all her life, that it just seems normal. She is a product of her own environment.

I will say that everything in this book is hard to deal with. There is no comic relief, just a lot of children being put into a lot of disturbing situations. This book deals with drugs, prostitution, childhood rape, suicide, and even the living conditions of these people may be hard to deal with. Now I can usually be unaffected by books that skim the surface of these topics, but this book got so deep so fast, that I felt like I couldn't possibly give it 5 stars, because I didn't necessarily enjoy reading some of the content.

I can't say that reading about a child prostitute was "amazing," because truth be told, it wasn't, but that isn't to say that these stories shouldn't be told. I think it is vital to our society, especially people who live in big cities, to be aware of what goes on in some of the areas. So I applaud this author for getting real, and I think from a psychological standpoint, this book was quite interesting, but if you are sensitive to any of the above topics, I would give this a pass. This book was rough.

Have you read Lullabies for Little Criminals? What did you think?

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

I Have a Favor to Ask...

Hey guys! Today's post is just a quick one where I've got a favour to ask you:

For my final assignment in English, we had to read a book, and then create a blog as one of the characters. We had to base the theme of the blog on what the character would write about. I chose Hidden Figures by: Margot Lee Shetterly, and I took the role of Mary Jackson, one of the women of the West Computers.

Part of the assignment requires at least 4 comments on each post, in which you engage in discussion with others. My teacher said you could create your own comments, but I thought it would be better to get actual people's thoughts.

So, I am asking a little something. If you guys could please, try to go over to that site and comment on one or more of the posts, I would greatly appreciate it. If you could pretend the writer was actually Mary Jackson, that would be preferred. I really want to know what people think of these posts and I figured I would reach out to the book community. The comment section is set up with Disqus, as that is a comment type that a lot of bloggers seem to have. If you comment, I would sooo appreciate it!

The link to the site is:

Thank you all in advance :)

Friday, 12 May 2017

The Kingdom of Oceana by: Mitchell Charles

Genre: Young Adult/Middle-Grade Fiction, Fantasy, Mythology
Published: November 27, 2015 by: Butterhose Media
Pages: 222
Rating: 3/5 stars

*synopsis from Goodreads

When 16-year-old Prince Ailani and his brother Nahoa trespass on a forbidden burial ground and uncover an ancient tiki mask, they unleash a thousand-year-old curse that threatens to destroy their tropical paradise. As warring factions collide for control of Oceana, it sparks an age-old conflict between rival sorcerers that threatens to erupt-just like Mauna Kea, the towering volcano. With the help of his ancestral spirit animals, his shape shifting sidekick, and a beautiful princess, Prince Ailani must overcome his own insecurities, a lifetime of sibling rivalry, and a plague of cursed sea creatures brought forth by the tiki's spell. Can peace be restored to the kingdom? Can Prince Ailani claim his rightful place as the future king of Oceana? ONLY ONE CAN RULE.

This was the first book I have read about Hawaiian mythology and I was absolutely intrigued! I think the author did an amazing job capturing atmosphere and teaching me about a new culture. While I had issues with the pacing and overall plot of the book, I think that this book gave me new insight into a culture I don't know much about. 

The author said that he got his inspiration for this book from a love for the ocean all his life, and his time living in Hawaii. He really made me feel as if I was right there with the prince, the atmosphere he created was incredibly beautiful and Hawaii remains a place I long to visit. You could tell that Charles was drawing from his own experiences living in Hawaii, as I thought his sights and sounds were so vivid and detailed. That was a huge plus. 

I did have issues with some of the pacing in this book. I felt as if the book jumped right into action, I didn't really have a chance to fully get introduced to the characters. Because of this, I was left kind of confused and out of the loop with the entire novel, and everything just moved a bit too fast for me. 

I think the pacing left me a bit uninterested with the plot. I enjoyed reading the settings of course, but I couldn't really connect with what was actually going on. So if everything moved a bit slower, I think it would have flowed better. 

Overall, I think Charles got the setting down-pact. He made me really appreciate Hawaiian culture, I just wish I was more into the story. 

Have you read The Kingdom of Oceana? What did you think? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Paperback's Pondering's: Gender Neutrality in Writing

Today's post is not really book related, rather writing related, and something that I really wanted to discuss and get other people's opinion on.

So the other day in my religion class, my teacher handed back a writing assignment that we had done. When my friend got hers back, she noticed that she had gotten a mark off next to a word in her assignment: mankind. When she asked our teacher, the teacher told her that she had taken the mark off because she should have stayed gender neutral in her assignment, thus using "humankind" instead of "mankind," because it implies that she is only talking about men. We were all kind of baffled about this because we had never been told this in any other classes before, mankind is just something you put without even thinking about it. I've never taken offence with someone using "mankind." That's when I knew I had to make a blog post on this and get some other opinions.

This teacher in particular is very big on gender neutrality. Even in another assignment that I had done, which was about the legalization of prostitution, I referenced women as being the prostitutes I would focus on, as they are typically the gender that goes into forced prostitution, and typically are more likely to be abused. But she insisted that I change "women" to "people."

This whole debate sparked her to do an entire lesson on remaining gender neutral and insisting that this notion should have been taught to us years before. But the truth was, it hadn't. Literally none of my other teachers in my entire life have even given a second glance at the word: mankind. And I haven't either. It's just one of those words that you obviously know isn't just referencing a man, but just uses man because unfortunately when the English language came to be, it was a male-dominated society.

I can't help but think that there are worse problems in the world. It sounds harsh, but to be honest, all of the females in the room agreed that we were not and probably never will be offended by the word: mankind. It's just something that we're used to. But then I began thinking about the topic further, and thought about what a non-binary, genderqueer or genderfluid person might think about using mankind? Some people do not identify with being just male or just female, so would they prefer using humankind to be inclusive of all gender types? So should we all make the switch?

The point I'm trying to maker here is, that the teenagers of today, or at least all of the ones I talked to about the subject, are not really affected by the use of masculine words in writing. We simply just don't care either way. But that doesn't mean that it's not a problem and really I think you could argue either way.

So please, share your opinions with me because I'm dying to know what other people think about this. And especially if you identify under a different gender umbrella, I'd love for you to educate me.

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday, 5 May 2017

The Sun is Also a Star by: Nicola Yoon

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Published: November 1, 2016 by: Delacorte
Pages: 348
Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Natasha is an aspiring scientist whose family is about to be deported back to Jamaica. Desperately trying to get out of the situation, she spends her last day in America circling around an immigration lawyer, and waiting for his call back. It is during that day that she meets Daniel, an aspiring poet that wishes for his parents to recognize his true passions. During this one day, the universe will bring Natasha and Daniel together more than once, but what else does it have in store for them?

This book was one of those books I was really looking forward to reading and then kind of went like: meh? It's safe to say I had high expectations of this because I do like Yoon's style of writing and her diverse characters, but to be honest, the characters are what annoyed me the most about this.

First it's worth mentioning that I really like the cover of the book. Yoon puts so much life and colour into her covers that really draws you in. It's definitely a selling point.

I also kinda enjoyed the plot? I mean, it was cute and I think was a good representation of the struggles of undocumented immigrants, and definitely gave me new information on immigration and deportation. The topic of immigration always interests me in YA and I was happy to read about it again.

I liked how diverse the characters were, Natasha was obviously Jamaican and even rocked her natural hair, and Daniel was Korean. However this was pretty much the only thing I liked about them. Natasha was extremely judgemental of people who pursue art careers, and didn't really develop to realize that this was wrong. I found her to be really uptight to the fact that she was smart and she really seemed to look down on everyone else. Plus, she was way too much of a realist and questioned everything, which got on my nerves. Daniel on the other hand, was way too much of a dreamer and was incredibly obsessive to the point of being creepy. Like dude, you just met her, calm down.

There's also instalove in this book, which I don't particularly enjoy. Sometimes it's not the end of the world, but in this case it seemed so out of place and odd. How can two complete strangers know by the end of the day that they need to be together, forever? It's super unrealistic.

At the end of the day, I am happy I tried this book because I did like the plot, but I wanted more from pretty much everything else. And that was disappointing.

Have you read The Sun is Also a Star? What did you think?

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Hidden Figures by: Margot Lee Shetterly

Genre: Non-Fiction, History, Science
Published: December 6, 2016 by: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages: 359
Rating: 3/5 stars

Ever wondered who the black woman who got John Glenn to the moon was? Before the US was close to the Space Race, Langley Research Center recruited hundreds of brilliant women, known as "human computers" to complete calculations to help get man into space. Amongst these women were an exceptional group of African-Americans, known as "the west computers." Dorothy Vaughan, Katherine Johnson, and Mary Jackson all made significant advancements in such a vital part of history, and yet many did not know they existed. Until now.

I don't reach much non-fiction. However when I do, it's because I am super interested in a topic and have researched it and thought about it before. In Hidden Figures' case, I had watched the movie during awards season and absolutely loved it. So when I had the opportunity to study this book for my English final assignment, I took the chance. Now I have to be honest, the movie was a lot more interesting to me than the book, but I still think that this is an important read.

Props to Margot Lee Shetterly for recognizing that these stories had to be told. Stories of African-American women overcoming racism, sexism, and being knocked down, all to work for one of the most prestigious organizations in the world: NASA. I knew of John Glenn, I knew of Neil Armstrong, but I had no idea who Katherine Johnson was before Hidden Figures. And even a lot of Americans didn't know either. I think this is a book that all history/science bluffs should read.

The book had some witty contexts, some powerful dialogues, and a ton of information, but I think the info-dump is what made this a bit, and I use this word lightly, boring. Now don't get me wrong, the whole story of the figures wasn't boring, but there was a ton of science information in this that just went right over my head. The movie focused more on the personal lives of the figures and work life, but the book focused more on what they did on the job. And this could be very interesting to a science nerd, but for me, I couldn't understand any of it.

For me to really love a non-fiction book, it needs to write about stuff I'm thoroughly interested in, and science unfortunately is not one of them. I thought it would be a lot more historical and more focused on the racism going on at the time, and it did to an extent, but I couldn't follow all the way through. But I still think that this was an extremely important read and one I was happy to pick up.

Have you read Hidden Figures? What did you think?

Emily @ Paperback Princess