Friday, 28 April 2017

Month in Review: April

We are now in the 2nd last month of the school year and I could not be more stressed! I'm going to be put in a lot of social situations this month which I am not used to, so if we could just fast forward to June, I would really appreciate it.

What I Read: 

The Shining by: Stephen King: 2/5 stars
The Hate U Give by: Angie Thomas: 5/5 stars
The Virgin Suicides by: Jeffrey Eugenides: 1/5 stars
Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by: Iain Reading: 3/5 stars
The Song of Achilles by: Madeline Miller: 5/5 stars
A Study in Charlotte by: Brittany Cavallaro: 2/5 stars
The Kingdom of Oceana by: Mitchell Charles: 3/5 stars

What I Blogged: 

9 blog posts went up this month! I think my favourite post was Don't Judge a Book by Its Publisher. It was kind of interesting to talk about and something that I've been thinking about for a while.

Favourite Book: Without a doubt, The Song of Achilles. It combined two of my favourite things: Greek Mythology, and a good romance, and I know I will be re-reading this one for a long time.

Favourite Blog Posts of the Month: 

Cee explains that Millennials are not Lazy 
Lais discusses Trigger Warnings
Amy review Six of Crows
Uma explains how she Develops Fantasy Worlds

Life Stuff of the Month: 

Nothing really significant happened this month. A lot of worrying for the upcoming months, especially May, but other than that I haven't got anything new to really report. I just really hope that I will be able to calm myself down for this month. Hopefully when I'm writing my Month in Review for May, I will be saying some positive things!

How was your April?

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Holding up the Universe by: Jennifer Niven

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Published: October 4, 2016 by: Knopf Books
Pages: 400
Rating: 3/5 stars

Libby Strout was once known as "America's Fattest Teen." Since losing weight and dealing with her mother's heartbreaking death, Libby is ready to step back into high school, and deal with the pressures of being a teenager. It is at her new school that she meets Jack, a charismatic popular guy, but with a rare disorder that he keeps secret. Jack cannot recognize faces, even of his close family members. As Libby and Jack get to know each other, they realize that their struggles make them who they are. And while navigating the cruel world of high school, they will depend on each other even more.

This book was kinda a hit and a miss at the same time. While I really enjoyed Niven's previous book, All The Bright Places, this book gave me the familiar beautiful writing and lovable characters that she does so well, but seemed a bit tropey in my opinion. And I'll explain why.

So first things first with the positives, I love how Niven writes a love story. She gives her characters amazing chemistry and utter adorableness that you just can't help but fall in love yourself. Her characters are so well-written and are given such witty attributes, that makes them so lovable. Jack and Libby were no exception.

The plot of this book wasn't boring, but wasn't exactly spectacular. The characters really made the book for me, because the plot didn't seem like it had anything special going on. It was just kinda average and predictable, but at the same time, didn't bore me as some other contemporaries do.

What really annoyed me about this book were some of the "fat girl tropes." Now I can't really accurately comment on these issues because I've never been overweight, but to me they seemed pretty recognizable. For me, I would love to read a book about a fat girl who didn't find the need to lose weight and THEN present herself to society. I want a book in which the girl owns her confidence and her weight is not the overarching problem throughout the entire book. Now this book could be very inspiring and body-positive, there's no doubt about that, but it's nothing that I haven't seen before. I would have liked it a lot more if it had taken more of a Dumplin' by: Julie Murphy approach.

So really, I'm in two heads about this book. Have you read Holding Up the Universe? What did you think?

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday, 21 April 2017

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Published: September 20, 2016 by: Henry Holt and Company
Pages: 546
Rating: 5/5 stars

*highlight white text to reveal spoilers*- there are some major ones in here so be cautious!

Fresh off of pulling off their deadly heist, Kaz Brekker and co. have a new task on their hands: battling new enemies and unlocking the secrets to a deadly drug that is circling through the Grisha world. A war is looming on the horizon, and Kaz and his crew must fight even harder to keep the people they love alive, or surrender to the people out to get them.

I mean, what else can I say about this series other than the fact that you have to read it? It is seriously one of the best series I have read. With diverse characters, a fast-paced plot, and killer relationships, this book is wickedly good. Read it and weep.

First off, Bardugo has written some of the strongest characters I've ever seen. period. Each character has their own strengths, weaknesses, and you will fall in love with each of them. Not to mention that she keeps her characters incredibly diverse, so I guarantee you will connect with someone in this book. Even the villains are expertly crafted!

The plot of this book was magical and incredible in every sort of way. There are a lot of parallels with the first book of course, and everything came full circle in the end. Although I will say, you will cry at times. Bardugo tugs on your emotions like its her job and she will kill off the people you love the most!! *sniff* Matthias *sniff*. I understand why she had to do it, it added to the plot, but still :((((

I'm happy with how the duology ended. I think I got the closure I needed, and as devastating as some parts were, I know why they had to happen. Bardugo carries major themes in her novels that just hit you with such strength. It's hard not to become emotionally attached to her books.

You gotta read this series. It has the most magical world-building, the twistiest of plot-twists, and the most lovable of characters. It is an incredible fantasy with an incredible message.

Have you read Crooked Kingdom? Can we cry together?

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Paperback's Pondering's: Don't Judge a Book by Its Publisher?

I was thinking the other day on how much I actually judge books by their publishers. I feel like I create the judgemental notion that, if a book comes from a popular publisher such as HarperCollins or Penguin, then it will be better than a book from a publisher I haven't heard of. I judge books by their publishers so much that I knew I had to do a post on it, and I'm going to be focusing on a number of factors.

I'm just gonna come out and say it: I usually only ever read books from mainstream publishers. And I fully admit that this makes me look like a crappy person, because I'm thinking that a book only gets better when it's picked up by a mainstream publisher. When in reality, there are a ton of diamond in the ruff's out there, especially from indie authors, that need more attention. I myself am an aspiring writer and know that it takes a lot to be picked up by one of the big guys. I don't understand why I'm not exposing myself to those books more?

One might also judge a book by their publishers because the publisher might be a bit sketchy. Take Simon and Schuster for example. Simon was recently going to publish a racist book by Milo I don't care that much about him to put his last name. Because of this, a lot of people started to boycott Simon and refuse to buy books from that publisher. I seem to not read a ton of Simon books, but I'm definitely more aware than I used to about the company.

So the question is, is it ok, for whatever reason, to judge a book by their publisher? Whether that would be from stereotypes, from the publisher being sketchy, or by something else? Do all books published by a publisher fit into that publisher's worldview? It's an interesting thing to think about where we normally gravitate towards.

For me, I typically read Penguin and Harper novels. But Harper has had a history of publishing some problematic books in the past as well, so should I distance myself from Harper novels? I think that the views of the author do not necessarily reflect the views of the company. However it makes you wonder, if Simon and Schuster considered themselves not racist, why would they pick up the deal for a racist book? I think it is important to be cautious where you're putting your money into.

So I kinda talked about two sides to judging a book by a publisher. On one hand, I have this stereotype that they will be better, and on the other hand, it seems more moral to not support publishers who publish racist books. But where do you draw the line?

I want to know what you think. Do you judge books by their publishers, and if so, for what reason?

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday, 14 April 2017

Carve the Mark by: Veronica Roth

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Science- Fiction
Published: January 17, 2017 by: Katherine Tegan Books
Pages: 468
Rating: 4/5 stars

Cyra is a Shotet, a brutal group of people on a mysterious planet that are in constant war with the Thuvhe. In Cyra's world, people have current gifts that stay with them all their life. For Cyra, that means a constant pain that she can put unto others, and that her ruthless brother has been willing to exploit. Akos is a Thuvhe, captured by Shotet soldiers and tortured by Cyra's brother. But when Cyra and Akos start forming a connection, they put both of their lives in danger, as well as the fate of their galaxy.

DISCLAIMER: This book has been called out for being problematic, including being racist towards members of the indigenous community and to people of North African heritage. It has also been said to be abelist to people who experience chronic pain. Since I do not belong to any of these groups, I cannot comment on these issues, I can only comment on my honest opinions on the book. If you are a member of any of these communities, please be mindful when reading this book and be sure to read reviews from people who belong to these groups.

I was really surprised by this book! I went into it kind of dubious because I'm not the hugest fan of science fiction, but I was really surprised by how much I actually enjoyed it. I thought it was fast-paced and exciting, and left me wondering what would happen next.

I really liked the plot of this book. It had a lot of plot twists and turns, and I was thoroughly engaged through it all! I did not get bored one bit, which really shocked me because I usually find sci-fi quite boring. But Roth provided a lot of elements in the book that kept the plot super intriguing.

I thought the characters fell a bit flat in this book. I wanted to know a bit more about them, especially the antagonist, Cyra's brother. I didn't mind Akos and Cyra, but I really wanted a glimpse into the villain's mind to see his inner motifs and what drove him to where he was. I don't think this book's characters really struck me, despite me being fully taken by plot.

So overall, I loved the plot, but wanted a bit more on characters. But I think that this book was really enjoyable, you just need to make sure that you take its controversies into consideration. Never, ever read something that you're not comfortable with or that may offend you.

Have you read Carve the Mark? What did you think?

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2) by: Alwyn Hamilton

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Published: March 7, 2017 by: Viking Books
Pages: 513
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Cunning gunslinger Amani al' Hiza now as a new mission: take down the vicious sultan and his regime before it's too late. To do this, Amani finds herself caught up in the sultan's harem, trying to gain access to his trust, all while desperately wondering where Jin, her partner has disappeared to, just when she started expressing feelings for him. Will Amani be able to take down the tyranny, or will she get caught just as she begins to get close?

I was so happy when Netgalley approved me for this book! I really liked Rebel of the Sands, and I definitely think that this book got even better in terms of plot. There were still some minor kinks that I would have liked to be worked out, but overall this was the sequel that I needed!

I really liked how plot-driven this novel was. There were many twists and turns that made me desperately wanting to keep flipping through. I got through this book so quickly because it was really high-action and so interesting! I definitely found the plot of this to be a huge improvement from Rebel of the Sands.

I also really loved Amani in this book. She was so fierce, as per usual, and she really took the reigns of her mission in this novel and put me in for a thrill. She was incredibly courageous, loyal and kind, and a terrific heroine that I always enjoy reading. Hamilton writes this character extremely well.

I enjoyed getting to know a bit more of the secondary characters in this book, although I did have some issues with Jin. I found him to be a bit flat in this book, which is a shame because I found him a lot more interesting in Rebel of the Sands. I feel like he was a lot more serious than charming and witty, and I wanted more from him.

But other than that, I think I enjoyed this book more than the first! It gave me a great continuation, and I am dying to know what happens next in the series! I need more Amani in my life!

Have you read Rebel of the Sands? What did you think?

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday, 7 April 2017

Girl Mans Up by: M.E. Girard

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Published: September 6, 2016 by: HarperCollins
Pages: 384
Rating: 5/5 stars

Pen is caught in a battle between what she wants to do and what her parents want her to do. She would rather wear "boy" clothes, things that make her feel comfortable. Her traditional Portuguese parents would rather her wear "girl" clothes, and be the respectful young lady she was meant to be. Get those issues, mixed in with a defiant brother, an authoritative friend, and a new crush that her parents would also disapprove of, Pen is on the journey of expressing her true self. And it's going to take a lot of scrutiny from others for her to get there.

This book was actually one of the most diverse books I have every read, literally everything you could want in representation. You've got a non-binary MC, F/F romances, Portuguese rep, Asian rep, sex positivity and abortion without there being shaming for it! I think the author hit the nail on the head with this book and taught me something new about the LGBTQIAP+ spectrum. To top it all off, the book is #ownvoices so spend time supporting this author!

I feel like I was made less ignorant by reading this. I like to think I am a pretty educated person when it comes to LGBTQIAP+ issues, but there are actually so many things I still need to learn, and this book in particular put me in the shoes of someone who is non-binary. To be honest, when I first read the synopsis I just assumed Pen was gonna be transgender, but news flash to me, there's more than just cis-gender and transgender rep out there! This book can teach a lot of people about the gender issues and roles we have.

I loved the culture representation in this book as well. Pen is Portuguese, and her parents are very traditional, and there was a lot of traditions and customs put into this book as well as language. It was great for the author to actually shed light on the MC's background, as opposed to her just being presumed white. Pen's friend group were also a mix of a lot of ethnicity's and backgrounds, which truly showed that friend groups do not fit into one category.

I also would just like to show some Canadian pride for this book! This book is by a Canadian author and is actually set in Canada, as opposed to every other popular YA book which is set in the US! This is honestly such a big step for the Canadian YA community because I don't feel like our books are represented enough in mainstream YA. I just love how this author got to show our country!

I feel like I've talked a lot about this book! Basically, it was so knowledgeable and important to the conversation that I think you should all read it.

Have you read Girl Mans Up? What did you think?

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

My Trip to New York!

Bit of a different post going up today! I said in my monthly recap that I was going to do a post highlighting my recent trip to New York, so here it is! I hope it might be helpful to any of you who may want to visit someday. Now I'm still a novice New York tourist, there's still so much of the city I have yet to explore, but there were a lot of things I found useful that I thought I might share:

Also, I've just started writing and I'm realizing that this will be the epitome of long posts, so apologies in advance:

Night 1: 

The night we arrived as absolute chaos. Getting into the city is one thing, getting into the city during rush hour is another. If you're driving, don't expect to get into the city for at least an hour, no joke. Traffic is insane, and driving will be LONG. Also, people love to jaywalk, honk their horns, and everyone believes they have the right of way, so just BE CAREFUL.

But once you get into your hotel, park your car and hope to not have to use it again until you leave, the fun can actually begin. The first night, we ate at this AMAZING restaurant called Don Antonio. It's near Radio City Music Hall. It had the most delicious authentic Italian pizza, and there was even a famous Food Network chef eating beside us, so you know its good!

The first night, we didn't do much except walk around and take in some views. It was late, so we saw Radio City Music Hall and Rockefeller Center. Both I would highly recommend seeing at night because they're so pretty lit up!

Day One: 

Our first full day was PRODUCTIVE. We started by going to the Met, which I enjoyed, but nobody else in my family did. It's a lot of history, so you need to be mindful of the people you're going with and see if that will interest them.

                             I always remember this painting from the "Olivia" children's books :)

 One important thing I will say about the museums of New York, is that the fee to get in is SUGGESTED. Meaning, that you actually just have to give a donation of your choice to get in. They give a suggested fee of adults, seniors and children, and then in a little fine print they say that it is suggested. I guess this is a tourist tactic but it's important to know!!!

I will also give advice to eat in the museum you are in. When we left the Met, will still hadn't eaten lunch, thinking that there would be something around there to eat. There wasn't, and we ended up having to walk a lot, so eat when you can!

We then went to a number of place, The Brooklyn Bridge, The 9/11 Memorial, and Chelsea Market. The 9/11 Memorial is very poignant and very emotional, highly recommend, and The Brooklyn Bridge is a trek that is easily worth it! It takes a hefty amount of time to cross, but the view is indescribable! Plus you can see The Statue of Liberty without having to take the ferry.

Chelsea Market is my recommendation for the foodies. We went there for a snack and for dinner, an it's basically a ton of different food stands offering everything from pastas, to sandwiches, to crepes. It's delicious, but not really necessary if you don't really care that much for food.

We ended the night off by seeing a show. This was by far, my favourite part of the trip. We saw Aladdin, my favourite Disney movie, and it was breathtaking! The costumes, the singing, the dancing, everything was perfect! That would be my show recommendation.

Day Two: 

Our second day wasn't as planned. It was St. Patrick's Day and the city was CRAZY, and we got caught up in the huge parade. It was very, very long. On this day, we went to Wall Street, we saw the girl standing up to the bull, an amazing sight, and we went to Trinity Church to visit Alexander Hamilton's grave. Again, kind of unnecessary, but if you're a Hamilton fan, it was actually pretty emotional to see, Eliza is buried right next to him as well.

                                                 I was so happy to be able to see this little girl.

We ended up going to Grand Central Station for lunch, which was delicious! That place is insane! We then went to Magnolia Bakery for snacks, which was a delicious treat. Then before dinner, we went to the Empire State Building.

This building was incredible. I would so recommend seeing it at sunset like we did, as the view is something out of this world. You have a choice to go to the 86th floor or the 112th, but I would just say to do the 86th as you have to pay a lot more for the 112th, for the exact same view. But please go up nonetheless! You will not be disappointed.

We rounded out the night by eating at Eataly, a huge Italian supermarket with restaurants inside. We ate at Le Verdure, the vegetarian restaurant, and it was incredible! Finally, we went to Times Square to shop.

We didn't do much shopping in New York. The exchange rate is insane so it doesn't really benefit Canadians, but we still went to Forever 21 and H & M in Times Square. Those are really the only hotspots I wanted to go to, and I was fine with that.

At the end of the night, we went to The Richard Rodgers Theatre to go cry at the Hamilton signs. We had entered the lottery, but with expected no luck, but I still wanted to see the theatre. The show had just let out and everyone was crowded around the stage door, but we couldn't really see who was coming out. That being said, just to be able to see it in the flesh was amazing.

And THAT was my Trip. I'm sorry for rambling, its just New York is a big place with a lot of stuff. We got around everywhere by subway, which is not as confusing at it seems to be, and we never got lost. My only tip is to make sure your metro pass does not run out of money! You don't want to be stranded, so keep an eye on it.

New York is unlike any city. I feel like it's on a lot of people's bucket lists, mine included, and it is definitely something worth visiting. Whether you like history, food, sights, entertainment, its got it all. And I definitely want to visit again someday.

Have you ever been or want to go to New York? Tell me about it! I hope this was helpful :D

Emily @ Paperback Princess