Tuesday 12 September 2023

Paperback's Pondering's: Weak Knees

CW: discussions of panic attacks, OCD and self-doubt while recovering from mental illness

Today (or at least on the day I am writing this post), I had therapy. I see a therapist who specializes in OCD treatment, and I have gained so much from meeting with her. While it does seem like we have something new to talk about each session, I find myself always finding new ways to cope with my intrusive thoughts and compulsions, and she finds me ways to not seek reassurance for my thoughts and to think a bit more independently. In today's session, she said something that really stuck with me, and so I thought I would share. 

When discussing one of my obsessions and compulsions, I lamented how it seems as if every time I get an intrusive thought, I am back to square one and I feel as if I will never be able to recover. My therapist responded with a quote that she had learned from another therapist, whose name escaped me in session, but she told me the quote is: "weak knees will still carry you across the room." 

I had a chance to ponder this quotation for a bit, and I actually get a bit emotional thinking about it now. So many times when I am in a bad intrusive thoughts spell, or having a bad panic attack, I think that there is no possible way I can be able to pick myself back up and recover. But the funny thing is, every time I have been in that situation, I have always recovered. There have been times I have had to go to school during a panic attack because I couldn't miss the class. And although I am very uncomfortable at the beginning, my panic subsides after a while and I am able to listen in my classes. There have been times where I felt like I should just throw in the towel on an event, and not go because I think it'll just be too stressful for me. But then I do end up going and have a good time. My mind goes into this cycle of always thinking that there is no way out of the panic, but my weak knees always find a way to carry me across the room. 

I liked that quote because it doesn't insinuate that everyone should just suck it up because we are stronger than our panic. The "weak knees" implies the acknowledgement of the disease, whether that be OCD, panic disorder, or something else. But it also encourages me personally to take things one step at a time, not try to fight the panic but instead try to simply float to the other side of the room; and soon, things will get better. I think this is a good way of thinking about recovery after a bad bought of mental illness, and is something that I hope I will continue to implement moving forward. 

When it comes to my own personal therapy journey, I have not always been a big fan of inspirational quotes, meditation seminars, etc. But this simple quote did influence the way I look at my OCD and anxiety, and offered me a bit of hope during a tough time. I figured if this could help someone else, it is worth sharing. 

I know that everyone copes with their mental illness in a different way. What may be helpful for one person may be a hinderance to another. I would never preach a certain way of treatment onto someone. However, if you like this quote, then I am glad to have shared it. And if anyone can trace down the origin for me; if not I will ask my therapist next session, I would appreciate it! I hope anyone else who currently has "weak knees" will make it across the room :) 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Tuesday 5 September 2023

Funny You Should Ask by: Elissa Sussman

Genre: Romance 

Published: April 12, 2022 by: Random House 

Pages: 352

Rating: 4/5 stars 

CW: death of a pet, divorce 

Twenty years ago, Chani Horowitz was a struggling masters student looking to get a book deal. By a twist of luck she is hired to write a profile on a Hollywood movie star: her celebrity crush Gabe Parker. During the interview, her and Gabe get to know each other on an emotional level, and Gabe invites her for a whirlwind weekend that sweeps her off of her feet. And then, she never hears from him again. Now freshly divorced, Chani is forced to revisit that profile from her early twenties and reunite with Gabe once more. Despite what she thought, Gabe had not forgotten about her, and the two pick up where they left off. 

I started this book on recommendation from my cousin. We buddy read it because it was marketed as a fanfiction-esque novel, and I was intrigued. I didn't know until recently that the main character is meant to be based off of Chris Evans, which I find just slightly creepy as I don't love fanfictions with real people. But since I only found out about this yesterday it doesn't really change my opinions on this book. I thought it was a fun read, different from the romances I'm used to. I would recommend! 

I thought Chani and Gabe were both well rounded characters. Chani in her early twenties was quite relatable, as Sussman depicts her close to graduating and really struggling to find a job. I thought this depiction, specifically Chani's frustrations, were very realistic, albeit her big break is certainly not something a lot of people can relate to. But I digress, I thought Sussman wrote about a writer very well. 

Gabe was also an awesome character. He's not a stereotypical romance leading man in the sense that he seems too perfect to be true. He has flaws, but grows as a character as the book goes on and as he gets older. He has a love for animals, especially dogs (ok, maybe I should've seen the Chris Evans comparison coming), and he is very caring towards his family and to Chani. Since Chani and Gabe were both likable characters in my opinion, this made for a really easy read. 

The book alternates between two time periods: Gabe and Chani's first meeting, and their reunion. I liked this structure of the book as I think it added more context to their relationship and how their feelings have progressed overtime. I also thought this aspect added more layer to the characters, as I could develop an understanding for how Chani's maturity overtime changes her opinions on love. There is very much a fluffiness to the flashback scenes, and while this isn't to say the future is bleak, I thought Chani and Gabe definitely grow to be a bit more level-headed when they get older. 

This was a very easy to get through book. It doesn't rely much on a lot of drama, or a lot of harsh topics. It wasn't the best romance I've ever read, but it was pleasant and a good break away from some more dramatic reads. I would reread if I was looking for an escape. 

Have you read Funny You Should Ask? What did you think? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Wednesday 30 August 2023

Month in Review: August

I barely blogged in August, because of some major life changes. But that's ok! What are new school years for if not for getting back into a normal routine? Anyways, here's all that went down in August: 

What I Read: 

Crow Winter by: Karen McBride: 3/5 stars 

Walking the Clouds edited by: Grace Dillon: 4/5 stars 

Moon of the Crusted Snow (reread) by: Waubgeshig Rice: 4.5/5 stars 

Future Home of the Living God by: Louise Erdrich: 5/5 stars 

Stone Blind by: Natalie Haynes: 4/5 stars 

Unfortunately Yours by: Tessa Bailey: 4/5 stars 

Chase Me by: Tessa Bailey: 2/5 stars 

Favourite book of the month: Despite being too busy to blog, my reading didn't falter this month. I loved reading Future Home of the Living God. It's a dystopia featuring an Indigenous protagonist who has to hide her pregnancy from the government. I thought it was a really interesting premise, and while sad in subject matter, it was very well written. 

What I Blogged: 

Not much, to be honest! I managed to get up my review of Tomorrow x3 by: Gabrielle Zevin, which was great because my feelings about that book were complicated. I'm happy I finally was able to put thoughts into words. 

Favourite Blog Posts of the Month: 

Lissa shares Book Beginnings She Dislikes

Greg makes me ponder life in Sunday Post# 516

Life Stuff: 

As forementioned, I had a lot of big changes happen to me in August. The main thing being that I moved to another city for school. I still have a few days until I begin my PhD program, so I've just spent my days getting acclimated to the city and to my new apartment. It has been nerve wracking and at times very stressful, as change often is. But I am proud of myself for keeping things together and establishing a new routine. I am equally as excited for the future. 

I did have some fun times going to concerts in August and to FanExpo right at the end before I moved. I do love the end of summer because I tend to ramp up on exciting events and it kinda symbolizes the last hurrah before jumping back into routine. I am looking forward to fall and enjoying coziness and spookiness. 

So that was August! Here's hoping I post a bit more regularly on here. How was your final month of summer? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday 11 August 2023

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by: Gabrielle Zevin

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary 
Published: July 5, 2022 by: Knopf 
Pages: 401 
Rating: 3.5/5 stars 

CW: gun violence, murder, grief, suicide, toxic relationships 

Sam Masur and Sadie Green were childhood best friends, but grew apart in young adulthood. That is, until one day when Sam spots Sadie on a subway platform, and the two rekindle their friendship and a lifelong dream. Sam and Sadie become business partners by launching Ichigo, a video game that soon becomes a hit. However, fame isn't everything, and Ichigo's overnight success proves taxing on the two friends' relationships with each other, and with others in their inner circle. 

I saw this book being advertised as a romance soon after it came out, and so I kept in on my radar. It is definitely not really a romance, though romantic undertones are prevalent in the novel in a "will they/won't they fashion." In reality, the book can be categorized as a contemporary fiction that examines friendship, fame, and personal identity. I did enjoy it. I thought that the book takes on a lot, though it does so in a very easy to read fashion. I didn't have trouble getting engrossed in the story. 

I am not a gamer in any fashion, so once I knew that gaming would be central to the story, I was a little bit dubious. However, I don't think that much gamer terminology takes over the plot at all, and I had no problem understanding the inner workings of Ichigo and how Sadie and Sam approach the game. I really do think that anyone; gamer or not would enjoy the plot because even if you're not a gamer, you can begin to understand how emotionally taxing creating a business with your friend could be. I'm obviously not talking from experience here, but I thought that Zevin did a good job at playing around with the limitations of trying to create an empire while also having the fear of failure and personal insecurities holding you back. Both Sam and Sadie do face these fears and I found myself interested in seeing their development. 

I also thought that the secondary characters added good, valuable interest in the story. There are a number of people who come and go in Sam's and Sadie's lives, some of them a part of the legacy of Ichigo, and others antagonists who seek to break down the characters. I thought that Zevin did well to develop the secondary characters so that they weren't just fillers in Sam's and Sadie's relationship, but were actually integral to shaping or influencing Sam and Sadie as the characters moved through life. 

The reason this book wasn't a five-star read for me, is that I think Zevin could've added some more information on Sam as a character to drive how he moves throughout the story. Sam is disabled, and throughout the book he is a pretty sad character, often portrayed as lonely and down. We don't get as much substance to his character as we do Sadie, and I found this to be a detriment because I think it reduces a disabled character down to their disability. Now disabled people can experience a range of emotions, but I think the author did Sam a disservice by having him just be really negative all the time. I think this perpetuates the stereotype that disabled people should just be miserable, which is not healthy or useful to anyone. This was a major downside to the book and I think with some better disability representation, this would've been a five-star read for me. 

This was a tough review to write! I was going back and forth between 3 and 4 stars, and ultimately decided to split in the middle. I don't discredit the book's high points; I do think it's got a very unique premise. But I just wanted the author to put a bit more life into her disabled protagonist. 

Have you read Tomorrow X3? What did you think? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Tuesday 1 August 2023

Month in Review: July


July went by way too fast for my liking. I do not want to even think about all the packing I have to do for my move or the fact that everything in my life is changing this month. Anyways... here's what happened in the whirlwind of July!  

What I Read: 

The Family Upstairs by: Lisa Jewell: 4.5/5 stars 

The Family Remains by: Lisa Jewell: 3/5 stars 

Bath Haus by: P.J. Vernon: 3/5 stars 

Pageboy by: Elliot Page: 4/5 stars 

Me Tomorrow edited by: Drew Hayden Taylor: 4/5 stars 

Split Tooth by: Tanya Tagaq: 4/5 stars 

The Boyfriend Candidate by: Ashley Winstead: 4/5 stars 

Favourite book: The Family Upstairs surprised me! My sister recommended it, and I am usually very picky with thrillers. But I found this book to be super shocking, and definitely a page turner. I didn't love the sequel, but this book was a hit. 

What I Blogged: 

I kinda fell off the blogging bandwagon this month due to busyness, such is life. But I did put up a new discussion post on Leaving Things to the Experts, and y'all provided some really interesting feedback on the subject. 

Favourite Blog Posts: 

Cee provides a thought provoking post: And Yet 

Shayna shares her Favourite Summer Thing

Simone explains how Trying to "Fix" Her Disability Made Her Hands Worse

Life Stuff: 

This month was spent working on grant proposals for school, working at my summer job, and working on buying stuff for my move. Just a lot of work in general, lol! While I feel physically in a good place, I know the stress of moving will set in soon. So I just have to keep up with the self-care to keep myself in a good place. 

I do have some concerts lined up for August before moving though, so I am looking forward to those! It's nice to have some fun events to cap off the summer. 

So, that was my July. How was yours? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Sunday 23 July 2023

Paperback's Ponderings: Leaving Things to the "Experts"

I can be a very indecisive person. I am the type of person who will ask a lot of people their opinion on a subject and then will make my decision based on what they recommend. This gets tricky when people suggest different things. But anyways, I think that I often assume people have more expertise on a subject than me. This sometimes leads to me selling myself short and then going along with what someone tells me to do even if it isn't necessarily what I want to do. A lifetime in school has made me realize that maybe I shouldn't always be leaving my decisions to be made by the "experts." 

I'm going to relate this subject mostly on academic-related activities, but I think this idea can apply to a lot of different scenarios. I have been working on non-stop essays and editing projects for the past three years or so. More often than not I have a professor working alongside me in these projects; they are there to offer edits and suggestions. However, since I am often a victim of the inner saboteur, I think I let suggestions and constructive feedback take over my project, to the point where I'm not even sure at the end if I like the project I'm writing. I don't think academics offer advice in a strict "you have to do this" way, but my own low self-esteem just assumes that they know what they're talking about more than I do. And this is not to say that an esteemed professor who has been editing a whole lot more than me doesn't sometimes know what's best. However, I also wish that I was able to advocate for myself more and for my own self interests.

There was one time last year where I turned down advice, and oh boy was it uncomfortable for me! A professor had offered a suggestion that I just didn't want to go with, and I had my heart set on a different direction. My friends told me that I needed to stand my ground (there's me asking for advice again, lol). But in this case, it was important that I listened to the advice of my friends. I was letting someone who can be very assertive make decisions for me, and while I know those decisions came with good intentions, I definitely needed to practice being assertive back. After all, life only gets more complicated, and I do not want to enter the workforce as someone who lets others walk all over her. To this day, I still question if I made the right decision. But the practice of advocating for myself I think did make me all the more stronger. 

I think I need to rethink how I conceive of people's expertise. I need to listen attentively when someone gives me advice, but also not let them make all of my decisions for me. I need to make sure that my strengths are shown in a project, as opposed to someone else's. Most importantly, especially as a woman, I think I need to be more assertive to build my confidence. I'm not ignorant to the way that sexism functions in academia, and I'll be damned if I let a man run my life. 

This is my self-reflection. While I understand that having an anxiety disorder definitely makes these situations all the more complicated, I think practicing assertion is a great way to show anxiety who's boss. 

What do you think? Do you often let others make decisions for you? What is your definition of an "expert?" 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Sunday 9 July 2023

Moon of the Crusted Snow by: Waubgeshig Rice

Genre: Speculative Fiction

Published: October 2, 2018 by: ECW Press 

Pages: 213 

Rating: 4/5 stars 

CW: discussions about the genocide of Indigenous Peoples, trauma caused by colonization, cannibalism, blood and gore 

Right before winter, a northern Anishinaabe community mysteriously loses power. The band council attempt to keep residents safe and calm, and rations and restrictions are put into place. Evan Whitesky and his young family are one of the many affected by this dangerous event. However, order doesn't last for long when an outsider makes his way into the community and persuades some members that he knows how to cope with this situation the best. When residents start to go missing and the visitor's priorities begin to be questioned, Evan and other residents decide to fight back. 

I heard of this book through a mention on Greg's blog. Thanks Greg! I will read any speculative fiction by an Indigenous author, so I knew this book was right up my street. I thought the premise and the setting (wintertime in one community) could make for an interesting book, as stakes become raised even higher when community members are shut off from electricity during the coldest time of year. I overall thought this book delivered on providing an eerie and engaging plot, though I did have some trouble with the ending that prevented this from being a new favourite. 

I liked Evan as the "unlikely hero" to the book. He is a father of two young children and he just wants to make sure that they stay warm and fed. He doesn't really want to get into any vigilantism or rustle any feathers with people in the community. However, because of his protective nature, he develops over the book to really want to protect the community as if all of the residents were his children. He immediately can sense trouble once the main antagonist comes into the community and I really loved his rational personality and level-headedness. 

The tone of this book is quit haunting, and reads very closely like a gothic. The isolated setting (seeing as the community becomes cut off from neighbours because of the lack of electricity), and the chilly environment made for some really engaging tropes. I saw a bit of The Shining in this text with its keeping of the winter season, but this book really does stand on its own by being an original work of spec fic with some clever horror elements weaved throughout. Never did I feel bored, I kept turning the pages to see what was next. I wanted these characters to make it through the dystopia, and Rice did well to build up that tension of wanting to turn the page. 

Now, the main let down for me in this book was the ending. I was waiting patiently for the climax when the main antagonist would be confronted, and found myself getting close to the end with no turning point in site. Then finally, with mere pages to spare, comes the main conflict and supposed resolution. The problem I had though is that the ending seemed to me to be so rushed that I was left with many unanswered questions. I overall thought that the ending could've been drawn out more, because for me, it was a bit of a let down. 

If you like dystopias and are looking to read more diverse speculative fiction books, I would give this one a go. The premise is quite unique and the plot wasn't predictable. I feel I may be slightly in the minority of people who didn't love the ending, but it just wasn't my cup of tea. 

Have you read Moon of the Crusted Snow? What did you think? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess