Friday, 18 January 2019

Twilight by: Stephenie Meyer: Re-read Review + Discussion

Hi all! I know it's been a while since I've posted. I just started winter term, and to be honest, I just kinda forgot to write blog posts. But, I'm back with a re-read review of a book that I actually had to read for a course, and that is Twilight. Now looking at the book in a critical sense, I think I have enough tools to write a review and discuss it, and I'm looking to do this with all of the YA books I'm going to read for this course as well. I find it all rather fascinating.

Genre: YA fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Rating: 4/5 stars (but not without faults; I'll explain it all!)

Introverted tomboy Bella Swan has just moved in with her dad in the rainy town of Forks, Washington. After failing to fit in with the bubbly students at school, she soon becomes enthralled by one particular student, Edward Cullen, and his tight-knit family who all harbour a dangerous secret: they are vampires. As Bella and Edward grow closer together, Bella moves farther away from the human world, and becomes more immersed in the world of fantastical creatures she never knew existed.

When I first read this book, I hated it. I found it boring and cheesy, which is weird considering I was ten years old. Perhaps I age backwards. When I picked up this book again, I flew through it, because I found it incredibly entertaining and a huge pick me up after a hefty number of reading slumps. Now, I'm not saying that this book is free from problematic elements, and is the perfect representation of romance. However, I would be lying if I said that I didn't enjoy the book. It just seemed like exactly the thing I needed after a pretty anxiety filled winter break and a need for escapism. So, we end up with a pretty positive rating, but some worthy criticism to bring up.

I think we should get one thing out of the way first, and that is that I am Team Jacob in the first two books, and Team Edward in the last two. Both males seem pretty unlikable otherwise. Edward is wise beyond his years but in a creepy way, which makes him seem more like a father figure to Bella rather than a lover. (My professor brought up some Freudian analysis in this lecture that blew my mind). I found Edward's dialogue the funniest, because he just seems so pretentious the entire time. Even though I didn't necessarily take this book seriously, I still enjoyed it in the way that I interpreted it nonetheless.

I actually find Bella pretty misunderstood in this book. Everyone is so quick to judge her, however she is a sheltered teenaged girl forced to move into a community she does not want to be apart of. I think she found a true family structure in the Cullen's, and for that, I don't blame her for falling in love with Edward so fast.

Jacob was adorable in this book, again, not saying he's perfect, but he has a lot of innocence in the first two novels that made him my favourite character. I think all of the werewolves are pretty likable characters, minus the whole imprinting thing. But we'll save that discussion for the later books.

I think the reason I have found to really enjoy the series this time around is because I have matured enough to know the problematic elements and to certainly not ignore them, but I have also been able to recognize that this romance should not be taken seriously. I read these books not expecting to swoon over the romance, and because of this, I just found it overall entertaining and perfect to cozy up with on a cold winter day. I didn't go into it expecting to be moved, instead, I allowed myself to just have fun with it and laugh at the parts I knew were meant to be written as serious.

I hope this review makes sense. What I'm saying is, I know the books aren't perfect, but because I recognized that, I enjoyed them more. We'll be getting into more hefty discussion over the rest of the series, as characters change and my professor goes into more detail.

Have you read Twilight? What did you think?

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday, 28 December 2018

Month in Review: December

I hope everyone had a great holiday season! I'm in the post-Christmas dumps, but still have a few days left of break and I am hoping to get back into a routine for the New Year. I was toying between doing a Year in Review or just a Month in Review, but decided on the latter to make it more specific. This post would be just TOO long otherwise. However, I will sprinkle in some yearly stats and discussions here and there. Here's what happened in December:

What I Read:

The Song of Achilles by: Madeline Miller (re-read): 5/5 stars
Broken Things by: Lauren Oliver: 3/5 stars

I know, I know, not a lot of books this month either. BUT I am taking a YA fiction course this year and I have a glorious reading list of some iconic YA series! Right now I'm re-reading the Twilight saga, gosh I haven't touched these books since I was 10, so beware of some Twilight-related posts soon!

Favourite book: The Song of Achilles was a re-read and I am still in love with it. I had to revisit it after loving Circe!

Overall, I read 55 books this year, completing my goodreads challenge of 50 books. My goal was drastically smaller than in previous years, because I didn't want to rush through books just for the sake of finishing them. My favourite book of the year was Maus by: Art Spiegelman. It was so different from anything else I have ever read and it definitely stuck with me.

What I Blogged:

I didn't get up to much blogging; only two posts! I took an unplanned break for the holidays but I am back on track and am hoping to post a lot more reviews! I did post my Book Wish-List for when I go on a book-buying spree with gift cards I got for Christmas. Go check it out and let me know what books you think I should totally get!

Overall, I am happy with my blogging schedule this year. I think that two posts a week is just too much for me and I am comfortable with posting on Friday's. It keeps my content fresh and doesn't make me rush through it!

Favourite Blog Posts:

Cee discusses Valid Feelings when You're Grieving 

Olivia-Savannah asks if she has Favourite Authors or Favourite Books?

Life Stuff:

Christmas came and went. I got a lot of cozy presents that I am looking forward to enjoying once these dreary months of January and February kick in. I'm hopeful that this semester will have more enjoyable courses rather than my previous one.

The month had ups and downs. I got quite anxious with all of the social gatherings Christmas involves, but my New Year's Resolution is to tackle the anxiety once and for all and finally seek help for it. Wish me luck!

The year was hit and miss as well. Second year hit me like a ton of bricks, and I definitely am happy that I am halfway through. However I did make some important life steps, such as passing my road test, and, just recently, getting a tattoo! I have an outline of a sunset on my forearm for my love of The Outsiders. I'm really happy with it.

My goal for this year is to stop bottling up my anxiety, and talk to people about it. I also want to not stress myself out with a lot of posting, and again shorten my reading challenge. Hopefully by the end of 2019, I will be a better version of myself!

How was your December and your 2018? Do you have any hopes for the New Year?

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday, 14 December 2018

My Winter Reading List: What Should I Get for Christmas?

Every Christmas I get a huge influx of Chapters gift cards and go on a huge book-buying binge. I feel like I read more during the month of January than any other month! While I intend to use a chunk of the money for books I need for school, my regular tbr is also not going to be ignored. I've narrowed down my main choices, and I'd like your opinions! I'll probably do a book haul featuring my picks. What books should I absolutely get for Christmas?

1. Two Dark Reigns by: Kendare Blake
I read the first two books in the Three Dark Crowns series in September and it's a really awesome story! I can't believe I have waited this long to finally pay attention to the third.

2. On the Come Up by: Angie Thomas
This is being released early February so it's perfect for winter reading! However, I'm not exactly sure if I'll love it just as much as I loved THUG. If you have read an ARC, how was it?

3. My Lady Jane by: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows
This is an older release that I have had my eye on for FOREVER. Now's the time to finally pick it up.

4. Heretics Anonymous by: Katie Henry
This looks like such a great read about religion. I genuinely think that I would love this book. If you have read it, was it amazing?

5. The Silence of the Girls by: Pat Barker
Since I love my Trojan War retellings, this one is from the perspectives of the lesser-known women in the war. I think it's looks really cool, although I haven't seen much hype about it.

6. Fruit of the Drunken Tree by: Ingrid Rojas Contreras
I think I first heard of this book when the author wrote a beautiful article about her childhood on Buzzfeed. It looks like it's got some harsh content, but also promising.

7. A Reaper at the Gates by: Sabaa Tahir
I know, this instalment in the Ember trilogy has been out for some time. However I've been on the fence because I didn't really love the second book. Ugh, it's unfortunate, but Ember fans, convince me!

Those are the main books on my list! What are you looking to read in the New Year?

Emily @ Paperback Princess

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