Friday, 18 August 2017

The Handmaid's Tale by: Margaret Atwood

Genre: Adult Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopia
Published: March 16, 1998 by: Anchor Books
Pages: 311
Rating: 5/5 stars



Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. Her sole duty is to bear children for her Commander and his infertile wife. She is not allowed to leave the house unless instructed, she is not allowed to read, and most importantly, she is not allowed to to poison herself with birth control and abortion, methods that are what led the world to have to be cleansed by the Gilead in the first place. Offred had a life beforehand, but that doesn't matter now. She is sworn to serve her Commander for the rest of her fertile life, or she might risk being sent to The Colonies.

I knew I had to pick up this book after being completely engrossed in the tv show. I don't know what possessed me to start watching, but I was so into it that reading the book after the season ended seemed inevitable, Now I have had problems with Atwood in the past, but this book surely redeemed herself for me and gave me a message so powerful and so scarily relevant to today.

Offred's life sucks. Her and all the other Handmaids are bound by the radical Christian group, the Gilead, who took over the formerly known United States and made it impossible for women to have any rights. Seem familiar? It's really telling that this book was sort of resurrected during this day and age, because women are going through such similar issues in the US right now when it comes to rights for birth control and reproductive health. Now obviously the US is not nearly as harsh as the Gilead, but what I find amazing is that the handmaid has become sort of a symbol now to women of feminism.

I loved this story. I thought it was shocking, twisted, and disturbing, but I could not put it down as I just needed to know what happened next. I do think Atwood wrote this as a cautionary tale, and rightfully so. I think this is a book that every woman should read if they need some inspiration to go out there and stand up to the patriarchy.

Have you read The Handmaid's Tale? What did you think?

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Blogival 2017: Q&A with Joe Treasure!




Hey everyone! I am so excited to be partaking in Clink Street Publishing's 2nd Annual Summer Blogival! All month long you can check out amazing content from other bloggers, as we feature exclusive interviews, reviews and highlight some incredible books! Today, I will be conducting a Q&A session with Clink Street author Joe Treasure, author of the literary fiction novel The Book of Air

About The Book of Air:



Retreating from an airborne virus with a uniquely unsettling symptom, property developer Jason escapes London for his country estate, where he is forced to negotiate a new way of living with an assortment of fellow survivors.

Far in the future, an isolated community of descendants continue to farm this same estate. Among their most treasured possessions are a few books, including a copy of Jane Eyre, from which they have constructed their hierarchies, rituals and beliefs. When 15-year-old Agnes begins to record the events of her life, she has no idea what consequences will follow. Locked away for her transgressions, she escapes to the urban ruins and a kind of freedom, but must decide where her future lies.

These two stories interweave, illuminating each other in unexpected ways and offering long vistas of loss, regeneration and wonder.

The Book of Air is a story of survival, the shaping of memory and the enduring impulse to find meaning in a turbulent world.


*synopsis taken from Goodreads

Q&A:


1.  In the Book of Air, Agnes’ society is constructed based on Jane Eyre. This is such an unique concept! Why did you choose that specific book, and what does it mean to you?


I do love that book. But I also love the idea of people reading it in a completely different way from me, not even understanding that it’s a work of fiction designed for pleasure, but scrutinizing it for guidance on how to live.  At the same time, I thought these villagers living a very basic life in the future would be baffled by most fiction, but would understand Jane’s world. Rochester’s mad wife is locked in a room in the house. When Jane runs away from Rochester’s house she nearly starves to death on the moor. These things would make sense to them.   


2.  Besides Jane Eyre, what would be your “Book of Air,” a book you would base your rituals and beliefs on?


Luckily I don’t have to choose, because I’m fortunate enough to live in a society that doesn’t put limits on what I can read. But if I had to, and if it was going to be a novel, I’d go for something that more broadly and more consciously considers the values people should live by, such as Middlemarch.


3.  Post-plague/apocalyptic societies are very popular settings for books nowadays. Why did you choose this setting for your novel and what themes did you want to present?


When I write fiction, I don’t always know why I make decisions of this kind. Themes emerge often without my conscious control. Taking a leap into the future allowed me an extra dimension of freedom as a story-teller. I wanted to imagine a society organized differently from ours, living by very different rules. I can see, now that the book is finished, that I was interested in people’s ability to give their lives meaning even in the darkest circumstances, in the impulse to create communities, and in what makes a community a source of harm or of healing.  


4.  Who would you rather be, Jason, a survivor with memories of past life, or Agnes, born after and living in a world where The Book of Air is all she knows?


I’m so much closer to Jason in age and life experience than I am to Agnes. And it’s hard to imagine myself growing up in Agnes’s world. On the other hand, Jason experiences almost unbearable losses. For Agnes, because she’s young and has begun to question the certainties that have been instilled in her from birth, life is full of unimagined possibilities. I would have to choose Agnes.


5.  What themes or beliefs from Agnes’ world do you think we could use in our world today?


The belief system Agnes shares with the other villagers is strange and unduly restrictive, rooted in a misreading of Jane Eyre. But their ability to live simply is admirable. They live a sustainable life in harmony with their environment. Perhaps that’s something we could learn from.  


6.  What inspired you to be a writer? I read in your biography that you first excelled in music and arts, and then won a place to read English. Do you think your background in the arts helped you craft words?


I was inspired to write by the pleasure I’ve always found in reading. I’m sure my art and music have helped me, even more than studying English. I’m aware of the music of sentences and paragraphs and of the rhythm of dialogue. Everything I write I read aloud to hear the sound it makes. At the same time I think I’m quite a visual writer. When I’m writing a scene, I like to know where it’s taking place, what the weather is doing, where the light is coming from.


7.  Lastly, what advice would you give to other aspiring writers, specifically those who want to go into more literary fiction?


Be ambitious for your writing more than for your career. The vast majority of writers are neglected and overlooked, even those whose books are published. The drive to write for its own sake must come first. Then find people you can trust to share your work with. Other aspiring writers are often best, because they’ll understand what you’re struggling with, and because you can reciprocate. Be open to whatever criticism they offer, however clumsily expressed. You can always ignore it if it doesn’t help, but first ask yourself honestly if it rings true. As long as the criticism is meant to help and not to wound (free-floating hostility being possible in any human interaction) be grateful for it. If you react defensively, your critics will pull back and limit themselves to offering bland encouragement. Above all, keep writing, and follow where the writing wants to go. Don’t limit yourself with conscious preconceptions of what the end product should look like.
Go check out this fabulous book! It will change your perception on how we view our favourite pieces of literature, and how they can influence the world. 
About Joe Treasure: 
Joe Treasure currently lives in South West London with his wife Leni Wildflower. As an English teacher in Wales, he ran an innovative drama programme, before following Leni across the pond to Los Angeles, an experience that inspired his critically acclaimed debut novel The Male Gaze (published by Picador). His second novel Besotted (also published by Picador) also met with rave reviews.
That's it for me! Use the #blogival to check out the other posts going up this month! 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Talking as Fast as I Can by: Lauren Graham

Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir
Published: November 29, 2016 by: Ballantine Books
Pages: 209
Rating: 5/5 stars



Follow Lauren Graham through her childhood, first jobs, and rise to fame in beloved shows Gilmore Girls and Parenthood in these collection of personal essays. Lauren shares witty humour, reviews Gilmore Girls' coveted seven seasons, and shares thoughts on the revival everyone was talking about. In this memoir, Lorelai Gilmore is back to reflect on just how much the show has meant to her.

This memoir was like the warm hug I needed after watching the Gilmore Girls revival! I can't say you'll love this book if you're unfamiliar with Lauren Graham or Gilmore Girls, but for me I was completely fangirling and laughing over Lauren's heartwarming stories and reflections on the show. It gave me (some) of the closure I needed after that dreadful Fall episode.

I loved how it literally felt like Lorelai Gilmore was talking to me throughout this book. Her fast-paced sentences, witty humour and heartwarming stories were so adorable and made me fangirling hard! She had such nice things to say about Gilmore Girls and all the cast and I love her little anecdotes.

I loved how this book was very Gilmore-girl oriented. I thought it would be a mix of a number of things. but the fact that it was gilmore-centric was awesome! There were stories from filming, funny banter, and she even reviewed each season of the show! I felt like I was being let in on behind the scenes secrets never before shared!

Overall, if you're a Gilmore Girls fan, you will love this book. It's hilarious and adorable, and written by our favourite female tv star. Lauren Graham will always be Lorelai Gilmore.

Have you read Talking as Fast as I Can? What did you think?

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Month in Review: July

I am slowly but surely making my way back to my normal schedule! Hey everyone, I feel like we haven't talked properly in a while since I've been on vacation. But I am back and looking to be more active! Here's all about my crazy July vacation!

What I Read:

The Outsiders by: S.E. Hinton
Rumble Fish by: S.E. Hinton

Wow, a whopping two books! You'd think I'd have more time to read while away but I actually barely had time to do anything so: meh. Hopefully I'll be able to pick up a book again soon!

What I Blogged:

I had scheduled a few posts while I was away, and my favourite was on When Books Turn into TV Shows. It was good to get some things off my chest.

Favourite Blog Posts:

I feel like I didn't nearly read enough blog posts from others while I was away, which really sucks because I hate being inactive :( I'm really sorry, but I promise to be more active comments-wise soon!

Life Stuff:

I'm gonna try and keep things short and sweet, with a few pictures sprinkled in here and there! If you didn't know, my family and I went to Europe for 3 weeks. We started off in London, where we were caught up in London Pride and it was all really exciting! But my favourite highlight of London was seeing Les Miz on the West End. That musical means so much to me and it was an incredible show!



Then we went to Ghent, Belgium. There was this breathtaking Medieval castle there with a ton of weapons and actual torture instruments inside! I nerded out big time.



Next came Amsterdam. I think it's a fascinating city considering the fact that literally everything is legal there. Their red-light district was also interesting to see because they are so positive about sex and prostitution. They shed a different light on such a controversial issue.

We found the infamous Fault in our Stars bench!!!

We also saw the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam which was one of the most harrowing things ever. My mother actually started crying when we got into the room with her original diary in it. On the wall, was a quote from her wanting to be a writer. That really hit close to home.

The only picture I took of her house. I was too emotionally invested to get out my phone other than outside. 

Next we went to Germany! The history of Berlin was soooo cool, especially the things involving the Cold War. They actually have a cobblestone strip all across the city that marks where the Berlin wall stood.

We visited another castle outside of Berlin. It was gorgeous! 

Prague was one of my favourite cities to visit. The history involving that city was breathtaking, especially with all that happened during The Reformation. The coolest fact I learnt was that the lights all across the infamous castle in the city were bought by Mick Jagger, who was so taken by the castle that he wanted it to be seen at night!



Our last country was Italy. We went to the beach, but most of the time was spent in my dad's hometown visiting family and friends. We have a lot of memories in that place.

And... now I'm home! I had an amazing time away but I am happy to be back on home soil and getting everything in order for uni in the fall. Now, the stress begins!

How was your July?

Emily @ Paperback Princess