Friday, 1 July 2022

Month in Review: June

CW: This post will discuss COVID 

Well, this month was a rollercoaster! What started out as a really fun month ended in COVID for the whole family. As I write this on June 30th I am still testing negative, but everyone else in my house has been out for the week. I feel like I'm starting to get it, but there's so many unknowns so we're all just living in one big isolation ward at this point! It's been a tiring week for all full of disinfecting, testing, and finding the right medications, but I'm confident we'll make it through. Besides that, here's what I got up to this month: 

What I Read: 

Delilah Green Doesn't Care by: Ashley Herring Blake: 4/5 stars 

Elektra by: Jennifer Saint: 5/5 stars 

Reckless Girls by: Rachel Hawkins: 2/5 stars 

Memphis by: Tara M. Stringfellow: 3/5 stars 

Daughter of the Deep by: Rick Riordan: 3/5 stars 

Interview with the Vampire by: Anne Rice: 2/5 stars 

Right Where I Left You by: Julian Winters: 4/5 stars 

Favourite book: Jennifer Saint continued to add to my love for feminist Greek mythology retellings with Elektra! I loved her work on Ariadne, and Elektra did not disappoint. Told from the perspectives of Cassandra, Clytemnestra, and Elektra during the Trojan War, I was very happy with how the story came together. 

What I Blogged: 

To celebrate Pride Month, I listed some of my favourite books with 2SLGBTQIAP+ representation! Check it out and let me know your recommendations for Pride Month. 

Favourite Blog Posts: 

Marie shares 10 YA Books Like The Summer I Turned Pretty To Read Next 

Greg discusses the topic of Cloning in Books 

Shayna shares Bookish No-No's 

Life Stuff: 

June was a fun month until the end! I got to go into Toronto for a few days, see a Toronto Blue Jay's game, and last week before COVID struck, my sister and I got to go to our first concert since the pandemic: The Arkells. Although, the concert may have left us with a parting gift in terms of sickness haha. I also got to celebrate Pride Month in our city and even got to meet one of my favourite drag queens, Brooke Lynn Hytes. Overall, I think the high's of the month outweigh the low's, though it is disappointing that July is off to such a rough start. Still, things could be a lot worse, and I'm looking forward to all the fun stuff this summer has to offer once the sickness is away! 

That was my June, how was yours? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday, 24 June 2022

Five of My Favourite Books With 2SLGBTQIAP+ Representation

Happy Pride Month, all! I've been celebrating the month by supporting local queer and trans businesses, and of course, reading a bunch of books with some great representation! In honour of June, I've decided to compile a list of five of my all-time favourite 2SLGBTQIAP+ books. I've read some great books over the years, and as I add to my collection, I'm sure this list will grow. For now, here is, in no particular order, some of my favourite books in honour of pride month. 

1. Cemetery Boys by: Aiden Thomas 

Featuring a trans male protagonist and a queer romance, Cemetery Boys was an absolute delight to read. We follow Yadriel, a teen brujo who performs a ritual that accidentally releases the ghost of Julian Diaz back into the physical world. Julian and Yadriel end up growing closer as Yadriel tries to prove himself to his family and Julian attempts to set things right with his before he can rest in peace. Aiden Thomas seems like the loveliest person ever, and I will now read whatever they write. This book is perfect for the Fall months, in my opinion, and is Own Voices for queer, trans, and Latinx representation! 

2. Jonny Appleseed by: Joshua Whitehead 

Jonny Appleseed is a Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer young adult who works as a sex worker in the big city, while remembering the stories his kokum told him as a child. When his kokum dies, Jonny travels back to the reservation for her funeral, and recounts his childhood on the rez and all of the people who influenced his youth. I cannot recommend this book enough. Oji-Cree/nehiyaw two-spirit/Indigiqueer writer Whitehead makes Jonny come alive with each page. Whitehead has such a profound way of writing, and I would recommend this book to anyone looking to read more from Indigenous authors. 

3. Heartstopper by: Alice Oseman 

In this graphic novel series, Nick and Charlie navigate school, sports, and crushes as they go through high school developing a relationship with each other. Charlie is openly gay, but Nick is still coming out as bisexual, but the two have each other and an eccentric group of friends to help them through. Queer joy is so needed. This series is light-hearted, fun, with bisexual and gay representation. If you need a break from reading trauma, this series is for you. 

4. The Mermaid, The Witch, and the Sea by: Maggie Tokuda-Hall 

I find this book to be so underrated. I need everyone to give it the hype it deserves. In this book, Flora/Florian is a genderfluid pirate who takes on the identity of a man on the ruthless pirate ship Dove, in order to earn the respect of the crew. While on the ship, Florian is tasked with looking after Evelyn, a wealthy young lady who is being shipped off to another district to be married. Evelyn grows close to Florian and teaches him how to read, and when she learns that Florian also goes by Flora, she becomes determined to help her escape their shared brutal situation on the ship. But, Evelyn and Flora will soon become caught up in a dangerous plot once a mermaid is caught on the ship and exploited for her blood. This book has it all: pirates, mermaids, a genderfluid main character, a strong queer relationship. Hall built this story up so well despite its many elements, and I thought the world was captivating. 

5. I Wish You All the Best by: Mason Deaver 

When Ben is thrown out of their house by their parents for coming out as nonbinary, their only option is to move in with their estranged older sister Hannah and her husband, Thomas. Ben struggles to adapt to their new life in a new neighbourhood, and begins therapy to help cope with their anxiety disorder. At their new school, a friendly boy named Nathan helps Ben find their way through senior year, and Ben begins to find hope in new beginnings. This book starts off tough with Ben going through major trauma with their parents. However, as the book continues, Ben is able to go onto a path of healing. This book has a great sibling relationship between Hannah and Ben, as she really educates herself on how to best help Ben. With Own Voices non-binary representation, this book really is a hit. 

Like I said, this list could go on forever. I hope you all have a lovely Pride Month, and if any of these books resonated with you, let me know! What are your favourite 2SLGBTQIAP+ books? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Thursday, 9 June 2022

One True Loves by: Elise Bryant

 Genre: young adult fiction, contemporary 

Published: January 4, 2022 by: Balzer + Bray 

Pages: 314 

Rating: 5/5 stars 

CW: racial microaggressions, struggles between teen and parent 

Lenore Bennett is a talented young artist who has freshly graduated from high school. She plans to go to NYU in the fall, but choosing an undeclared major has caused a riff between her and her parents, who wished Lenore would settle down and just pick something. To celebrate the summer, Lenore, her parents, and her two siblings embark on a Mediterranean cruise, for some much needed relaxation. However, while on the cruise, tension grows between Lenore and her parents, especially when they make friends with another family on the ship and their son, golden-boy Alex Lee. Lenore struggles to enjoy herself when all she can think of is how she can show her parents that she is making the right decision, but one thing Lenore did not consider is the possibility of a crush developing on the ship. 

Elise Bryant has done it again! I read the first book in this series, Happily Ever Afters, about a year ago, and I fell in love with these characters and the fluffy way that Bryant writes. In this book, we follow a side-character from Happily Ever Afters, Lenore, who loves her parents deeply, but struggles to connect with them because of their very different ideas about what she should be doing for university. All of this is mixed with a Mediterranean setting which makes the novel the perfect book for summer. I absolutely loved all the imagery and I just want to go on vacation now. Overall, this book is diverse, with some important themes packed in, alongside lovable characters. 

First off, I loved the Bennett family. Lenore is strong-willed and confident, her parents have such a great relationship mixed with the right amount of goofiness. Her brother Wally is a complicated character but I enjoyed getting to learn more about him as he developed, and her sister Etta is studious and sarcastic, she was such a joy to read about. Since I loved all the characters so much, getting through this book was breeze, because I really did just root for every character and tried to see something from their point of view. Overall, I think Bryant did a great job at portraying a perfectly imperfect family. 

An important part of this book is the idea of travel. Jesse @ Bowties and Books on Youtube put it very well that very rarely do we get Black travel narratives. Oftentimes it is white characters that are awarded the privilege to travel. To have a fluffy travel narrative with a Black main character where the plot doesn't rely on trauma, is very refreshing. Bryant touches on this idea of travel being a privilege often not accessible to Black folks, as she goes into how Lenore's parents had to work twice has hard as their white coworkers to get to a comfortable point in which they could take their family on a nice vacation. Lenore's parents are incredibly accomplished, but they also recognize how difficult it was for them to get there due to structural issues put in place. I think Bryant did a great job at depicting racial micro and macro aggressions that Black families go through, while still keeping the book quite easy to get through in terms of content. 

I mentioned before that the setting of this book was so great. I don't think I've ever read a book mostly set on a cruise ship before, but it was so fun to read about how Alex and Lenore keep bumping into each other despite the size of the ship. Similarly, Bryant also incorporates Mediterranean cities as the cruise makes its way to different stops, so there is some lovely food imagery and architectural imagery that just had me longing for hot weather and beaches. The settings were so fun to read about. 

Overall, this book was an absolute delight. I love reading books where families play a central role, it was great to learn more about Lenore's family and all of their quirks. I think this book integrates travel very well, and also has some great representation along the way. I would highly recommend this book for a perfect summer read! 

Have you read One True Loves? What did you think? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess 

Friday, 3 June 2022

Month in Review: May

I survived May! After a very busy, nerve-wracking month, I am so happy to be into June and I am ready to kick-off the summer. Here's what happened in May: 

What I Read: 

Heartstopper: Volumes 1-3 by: Alice Oseman: 5/5 stars 

Bunny by: Mona Awad: 2/5 stars 

Life In The City of Dirty Water by: Clayton Thomas-Muller: 4/5 stars 

The Break by: Katherena Vermette: 3/5 stars 

Four Aunties and a Wedding by: Jesse Q. Sutanto: 4/5 stars 

Jameela Green Ruins Everything by: Zarqa Nawaz: 4/5 stars 

Embers by: Richard Wagamese: 4/5 stars 

Favourite book: The Heartstopper series ruled my May reading. In honour of the tv show premiere, I decided to read the graphic novels, and I am absolutely loving them. They are so cute and wholesome, and I can't wait to get to volume four. 

What I Blogged: 

My favourite blog post of this month was my discussion on Why I Am A Fan of Fan-Fiction. It is a revision of a post I put up in 2016, and I was so happy to share my updated thoughts on fan-fiction and reasons why the genre is so great. 

Favourite Blog Posts: 

Cee discusses Rich Vamps: Dracula and the Blood of the Poor 

Nicole asks: Does Your Right To Free Speech Extend To My Blog? 

Sabrina shares 10+ Booktubers I Love 

Life Stuff: 

This month, I attended my first academic conference in Montreal, which was scary, but I am proud of myself for how it went. I met so many lovely professors in my field, and the experience will definitely help me in the future. I rewarded myself with some fun shopping in the later parts of the month, and some much needed downtime before I begin writing my major research paper. 

Which now leads me to the heart of my MA degree: my major research paper. The paper needs to be completed by the end of August, and is roughly 40 pages. I'm procrastinating... a lot. I think I've fallen a bit off of the wagon in terms of schooling, so I definitely need to hop back on and stay focused. My blogging schedule should still stay the same, but I definitely need to manage my time better. 

So, that was my May! It's time to get down to business, wish me luck! 

How was your May? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Thursday, 26 May 2022

Nimona by: ND Stevenson

 Genre: Graphic novel, fantasy 

Published: May 12, 2015 by: Harper Collins 

Pages: 272 

Rating: 4/5 stars 

CW: abuse, experimentation, minor gore 

Shapeshifter Nimona is a spunky villain who vows to remain loyal to her partner, Lord Ballister Blackheart. Together, the duo vow to take down Blackheart's arch nemesis, Sir. Goldenloin, as well as all the supposed "heroes" of the Institute of Law Enforcement. Nimona and Blackheart are determined to set the record straight about the Institution, revealing them to be the true cause of evil in their community. However, as Blackheart begins to learn more about Nimona's past, he will soon realize that their quest for fighting evil with their own unique form of villainy will prove to be more complicated than he originally thought. It turns out, dealing with a shapeshifter is no easy feat. 

You'll see me reviewing a lot more comics and graphic novels as I work through reviewing all of the books I had to read in my superhero course. In this graphic novel, Nimona, we follow a spunky villain who can shapeshift into anything, though she mostly presents as a teenaged girl. Together with the unlikely partner of Ballister Blackheart, she seeks to reveal all of the evil that lurks in her medieval-style land. Nimona was an incredibly likable, bubbly character that I couldn't help but root for. Despite her being labelled as a villain, she represents more of a chaotic good side as she delights in taking down evil establishments that have grown a reputation for supposedly being good, though she knows otherwise. Blackheart's and Nimona's dynamics within the unique setting of the graphic novel was an absolute delight, making this a very quick and enjoyable read. 

First off, the setting that Stevenson was able to build was incredibly unique. The world in which Nimona lives in is this kind of fictional Medieval-esque world, though with a smattering of technological advancement used by the institution and scientific experimentation. The result is that the future and the past intertwine in this environment to create something I've never seen before. You have knights like Sir. Goldenloin working with scientific masterminds all in the shadow of a Medieval style castle. It was a really cool set-up and I think the lack of a specific time period and more of a drawing of inspiration from different aesthetics played very nicely with Nimona's shapeshifting abilities, as she was able adapt to different situations very well. 

I also think the artwork in the graphic novel was really well done. Stevenson plays with soft, light colours, a lot of pale reds, pinks, and yellows, but the graphic novel overall also has a very sketched out feel to it, almost like you can visibly see the sketches with pencil that went into the drawings of the characters. The pictures had a doodled vibe to it, which I loved, because I think it added to the personalization of the graphic novel to Stevenson's specific liking, and I could really see that they put a lot of effort into creating the characters and colour palettes to fit the overall vibes of the graphic, which is a bit spunky, but also whimsical and fun. 

I guess the one complaint I would have about the graphic novel was that the plot in my opinion, is a bit weak. It just didn't really captivate me like other comics and graphic novels have done in the past. It was an okay storyline, but definitely not my favourite. I think I took more of a liking to the characters, like seeing what animal of creature Nimona was going to turn into, rather than really focusing on the plot. That being said, it's a very easy graphic novel to get through, and has some very cute moments as well. 

Overall, this graphic novel has queer representation, Medieval castles, fun animals, and a spunky antihero at the centre of it all. I think it's a great addition to my graphic novel collection, and I definitely want to read more of what ND Stevenson puts out, particularly, I'm quite interested in watching their show, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Stevenson is also transmasculine and bigender, so a big plus is that you'll be reading from a diverse author if you pick this one up! 

Have you read Nimona? What did you think? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday, 20 May 2022

Paperback's Pondering's: Why I AM A Fan of Fan-Fiction

 A long, long time ago, in 2016, teenaged Emily wrote a blog post talking about how she didn't like fan-fiction. I don't know who hurt her at the time, but she wrote about how she didn't like it when writers continued with stories that were already finished and created alternate endings. Now in 2022, adult Emily has realized the errors of her ways and has now decided to revisit this topic and explain to you all why she IS a fan of fan-fiction. Ok, now it's time to stop writing in the third person. 

I credit Cee Arr @ Dora Reads and her Friday Fics Fix posts for getting me into this genre of writing. Every Friday, Cee posts a fan-fiction recommendation from a variety of fandoms. I mostly like the ones from the MCU, as it is one of the main fandoms that I am a part of and I love it when the writers put unconventional characters together, like for example, Tony Stark and Loki, which I had no idea before reading Cee's posts were a fan-fiction couple but I wholeheartedly support it. There is so much creativity in the fan-fiction world, and in a universe like the MCU that often falls into conventional tropes and predictable couples, this creativity is so needed. 

The problem with my previous post is that I categorized all fan-fiction under fan-fiction written about real people, like One Direction fan-fiction. However, this type of fan-fiction tends to be a bit cheesier, and if I'm being honest, a bit creepy, because folks are attempting to create a fictional life based on real people with very public lives. I don't want to shame anyone for consuming or writing that kind of content, but it definitely is not for me. However, those same limits do not exist for fictional characters. Steve Rogers doesn't really care if we write him to be in a romantic relationship with Bucky, because he doesn't exist. So, fan-fiction writers who write about fictional characters are able to build upon the unique characters and settings from these fictional worlds and put their own spin on it. These kinds of stories are able to dive deeper into characters who may not have been fully developed in canonical content, or who may have not been treated right by their canonical texts. Fan-fiction writers have the ability to redeem characters, to give them the love stories or friendships that they deserve. And to be honest, I find that kind of beautiful. 

Fan-fiction has given me the ability to revisit new stories about beloved characters, even when their canonical texts have decided that their stories are finished. I may never get a Falcon and the Winter Soldier season two, but I can continue to consume new content about Bucky and Sam to keep that world alive, and that makes me so happy! I can also read fan-fiction to keep me busy in-between seasons of a show, such as What We Do In the Shadows and The Umbrella Academy. Fan-fiction keeps worlds alive when the canon has halted them. I find that so cool. 

Lastly, as a creative writer myself, I cannot deny the opportunities that fan-fiction gives aspiring writers. While it may be incredibly difficult to get published with a major publishing house right away, posting on fan-fiction sites allows writers to have an outlet to get their creativity out, communicate with fellow writers, and even workshop their works and receive feedback. Creative writing classes and workshops are not accessible to everyone, and yet, we can do it for free and from the comfort of our own homes through fan-fiction sites. Whether these stories get published or not, they help to build a community of writers, young and old, who all appreciate the same thing. 

Overall, sixteen year-old Emily didn't know what she was talking about. Then again, she was sixteen, so we can cut her a bit of slack, but she's glad that she changed her mind about fan-fiction. I am so happy to be a part of this vibrant, diverse and unique community. And you should be too. 

Do you read fan-fiction? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur: The Beginning by: Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, and Natacha Bustos

 Genre: young adult, graphic novel

Published: February 19, 2019 by: Marvel 

Pages: 272 

Rating: 5/5 stars 

CW: bullying, racism, sexism 

Lunella Lafayette is a kid genius who plans to change the world. However, she also lives in fear of her Inhuman gene, which she vows to fix. Her plans to rid herself of the gene go awry when instead of fixing herself, she releases a prehistoric beast known as Devil Dinosaur into the modern world. Lunella takes it upon herself to use her new friend for good, and she and Devil Dinosaur team up in an unlikely duo, bodyswapping along the way to help Lunella cope with the struggles of growing up, while also dealing with some new dangers in her home city. 

I thought this was such a unique superhero text! My mother got me this graphic novel for Christmas, along with one of the original Moon Boy and Devil Dinosaur comics from the 70's. This graphic novel breathes new life into the story by depicting a young Black girl with a passion for science, who knows she will do great things, but is also dealing with growing up amidst unique changes that none of her peers can relate to. I thought Lunella as a character was incredibly likable, and Devil Dinosaur was a hilarious companion as well. Overall, this graphic novel captivated me as a new reader of the Devil Dinosaur character, but I think it may also delight people familiar with the original story arc. 

I really appreciated how the writers wrote Lunella to be a kid, and they didn't try to make her sound more mature than she needed to be. Lunella is so intelligent, that much is certain. But, she also doesn't have the same life experiences as the adults around her, and the writers didn't make her sound like a wise old man in the body of a preteen. Instead, she makes mistakes. She laughs, she cries. She has normal, kid emotions. I thought this characterization was super important to see because I think it allows kids to connect with her character, and it also reveals to adults how important it is to give kids the ability to let their voices be heard. 

I think this book played with different symbols very well. For example, Lunella is dealing with this unique gene that she wants to rid herself of, that none of her peers have. Such gene makes her feel isolated, and uncomfortable. The writers were able to play with the Inhuman gene in a way that ties it to Lunella's journey through young adulthood. She's experiences all of these new life changes, coming into her superhero powers, failing to be heard from the adults around her, and at her core, she just wants to be perceived as normal. However, the authors reveal that there really is no such thing as "normal," and that all of her abnormalities are actually what make her brilliant. 

The writers definitely took the original story of Moon Boy and Devil Dinosaur and decided to bring it into the 21st century by putting a diverse teen girl at the front of the story so that more young kids can relate to Lunella's experiences and feel connected to her character. I definitely found the story layout to be entertaining, witty, with some great comic relief throughout. There are also some cameos made by other Marvel characters which I very much appreciated, and I think folks will really like how the writers introduced Lunella into the greater MCU. I can see Marvel do a lot with her character, and I think she has been a welcome addition into this universe. 

Have you read Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur? What did you think? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess