Friday, 29 May 2020

Month in Review: May

May had its ups, and it had its downs. But, I did reveal a lot more about myself this month then I have in my six years of blogging. For the first time ever, I was vulnerable to pretty much everyone in my life. And it was so needed. While everything is still a work in progress, being able to reveal what I have basically kept secret for a long time was a crucial step for me.

What I Read: 

The Lighting Thief by: Rick Riordan: 5/5 stars
Great Goddesses by: Nikita Gill: 5/5 stars
Oedipus the King by: Sophocles: 2/5 stars
Siege and Storm by: Leigh Bardugo: 4/5 stars
Skraelings by: Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley: 3/5 stars
The Elite by: Kiera Cass: 5/5 stars
The One by: Kiera Cass: 4/5 stars
Wacousta by: John Richardson: 1/5 stars
The Selection Series Novellas by: Kiera Cass: Avg. Rating: 4/5 stars

As you can see, I read A LOT this month! I was on a total Selection series re-read kick and pretty much flew through the entire series. I'm also not done yet because I'm working through the stories I missed in Happily Ever After, and I plan on reading The Heir and The Crown as well. These books are just so fluffy, and despite me not always rating them five stars critically, they do provide me with so much comfort. So, I will say The Selection series as a whole was my favourite from this month!

What I Blogged: 

I think an obvious post of mine that I wish to highlight this month is my post on My Experiences with Pure OCD. This post was not easy to write, but I so needed to write it for my own acceptance and healing. I could not be more happy with the response, and this is my sincerest thank you to everyone who has reached out and given me support in any way. You guys make my fight so worth it <3

Favourite Blog Posts: 

Konna asks How You Diversify Your Reading 
Veronika discusses if she's Fallen Out of Love with Writing Reviews
Cait shares 10 Things She Would Like to See More of in YA Books about Mental Health
Roberta asks If you Rate Books Up or Down on Goodreads
Lais discusses the Premonition Sex Trope in YA

Life Stuff: 

The month of May was a rollercoaster of emotions. But, we made it through! I have found a therapist who I really love, and I do feel like I am turning over to a new chapter. The true road to recovery begins now!

A thing that I really enjoyed this month was the SoShelf Distancing Book Club. Two book bloggers, Claire and Tessi put this virtual book club together and I look forward to it every Saturday! It's been so nice getting to put some faces to the names of many book bloggers I have seen around the blogsophere, and also nice to talk to people outside of my family for a change haha. This round we're reading We Hunt the Flame by: Hafsah Faizal! If you're interested in participating definitely get in touch with these ladies, because it's a really awesome club.

One thing that has really been a highlight of May has been the weather. It has been super hot and sunny this past week, which means I have been doing a lot of my schoolwork outside. I love summer and so it has been so nice being able to wear shorts and enjoy sitting outside. I have also been going on a lot of long walks and I'm just overall happy that the snow is behind us. It's nice to get into a new summer routine.

So, that was my May. We forge ahead towards June, and as Sesame Street said, hope that the sunny days will sweep the clouds away :)

How was your May?

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday, 22 May 2020

The Dreamers by: Karen Thompson Walker

Genre: Science Fiction
Published: January 15, 2019 by: Random House
Pages: 303
Rating: 5/5 stars

When introverted college freshman Mei finds her roommate mysteriously asleep for days on end, the university is perplexed. Soon, another girl falls asleep and cannot be awoken, and then another. Slowly, more residents of the isolated Southern California town become infected with this odd sleeping illness, and nobody knows why. As residents attempt to protect themselves from an unknown threat, a psychiatrist from Los Angeles attempts to uncover why all those who fall ill are reporting heightened dream activity. But what are they dreaming about?

I received this book from one of my professors, who generously gave it to me after she found out how obsessed I am with the novel Station Eleven. She said it has a similar vibe and she thought I would like it. She was not wrong! This book was so incredibly unique and special. It was unlike any "pandemic" book I have read before. And, if you're up for it of course, I think it's really worth a read during these times as well.

There is an extensive cast of characters in this book, and they all hold unique characteristics. Mei was a really strong-hearted character who I could very much relate to. There is also a couple who are trying to protect their newborn daughter from the disease, and two young girls who must fend for themselves after their grieving father succumbs to the illness. All of these characters inter-lap in a really cool way. It was awesome to see how they all affect each other's lives.

I thought that this book handles an epidemic in the way that is super unique. Normally in books that deal with this subject matter, everything gets resolved, or at least, we get answers to everything. However in this book, there is still so much that is left unanswered by the end. I don't want to give too much away, but I think this book captures the theme of uncertainty really well. Sometimes, we can't find the answer to everything. But, we just have to carry on living. I think this is a lesson that a lot of us could use nowadays.

Overall, I think this book is a very worthy read. I think a lot of people are hesitant to read plague books right now, but if it helps, the disease in this book is super fictional anyways. I think that this book offers a lot of hope in uncertain times, and I'm really happy I was recommended it.

Have you read The Dreamers? What did you think?

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday, 15 May 2020

My Experiences with Pure OCD

TRIGGER WARNING: this post will discuss harm intrusive thoughts, OCD, anxiety and other potentially distressing content.

Where do I begin. I have wanted to do a post like this for a very long time. But, I never knew how to put what I was feeling into words. My intrusive thoughts told me that writing a post would simply be me craving attention, and so I shouldn't do it. But, more and more I have discovered that when you share your feelings, someone who might be going through the same thing may feel less alone. So this is me raising awareness about my mental illness: Pure OCD.

I knew I had anxiety for a while. For the past five years I have felt uncomfortable in social situations, nothing too severe, but enough for me to start therapy to just talk things out. This was about a year ago. My summer was awesome, and come the fall time, I was ready to start things fresh and and enter a new routine. And things were fine until after Christmas. In January of this year, I began experiencing "intrusive thoughts." These are basically obsessive, scary, disturbing thoughts that consume your mind and you can't shut them off. You know that you don't believe these thoughts, and you certainly know that you do not want to act upon them, but no matter what you do, they cannot go away.

My intrusive thoughts involved me hurting someone in my family. This caused me a lot of distress, because my biggest fear is turning into an evil person and I would never fathom hurting the ones I love. I googled my symptoms to see if anyone experienced the same thing. And that's when I came across Pure OCD and intrusive thoughts.

Pure OCD kinda goes hand in hand with intrusive thoughts. But the thing is, everyone experiences intrusive thoughts! Everyone has gotten a weird or anxious thought at least once in their life. It's part of what makes us human. But, when you latch onto the thoughts, you give yourself more anxiety, and thus, Pure OCD is born. You start completing compulsions to try and rid yourself of the thoughts. For me, this involves wishing on certain numbers for good luck, and praying every night that I will never turn evil, despite me not being that religious.

Soon I discovered a whole community of people who have the exact same experiences. We get flooded with anxiety-inducing images, end up having panic attacks, and at some point fear that we are one day going to go insane and have to be admitted to the hospital. Along with these thoughts, I got a lot of mental health anxiety. Fears of losing my personality, or losing empathy. I had to constantly seek reassurance from my therapist that I wasn't going to just snap one day.

In February, my mom moved in with me. I was afraid of being alone, and needed someone to talk to. Times with her got a little better. That is, until my doctor decided to put me on medication. I went on Lexapro, and my first week on it was the lowest I have ever been in my life. My intrusive thoughts were in full force, I was shaky and nauseous, and I felt so paranoid all the time. I got off of it, and spent about a month in relative peace. I finally felt normal again.

Then, social isolation happened. My family got back together, and we had to stay inside and not leave. The first few weeks were ok. But, slowly the intrusive thoughts were latching on again. I spent about a week in panic mode, feeling sick to my stomach all the time, but after a week I kinda got over it, and I spent a month being able to control the thoughts. Also, a big shout-out goes to Cee @ Dora Reads for majorly helping me through that week.

Last week, I got to the point where I decided I wanted to go back on medication. I talked with my doctor and we both agreed that I hadn't really give medication a full shot, and my body wasn't used to it yet. So, I went back on it. And, I finally felt like some good was happening. Until, I spiraled again. This morning, I started to believe that I would never get better, and that I would end up in a mental hospital because of my thoughts. It crippled me, but then I went on a walk with my dad, and shared all of the things I had pent-up in my head. It felt good to be free of that burden.

Which brings me to now. I'm still giving medication a go, but mostly I am tired of staying silent. I am tired of being ashamed of this illness, of keeping it inside because of embarrassment. This is a real disease that many people go through, but it is often looked at as simply "the germaphobe illness." Trust me when I say, I would much rather have some germaphobia than intrusive thoughts. I figured the only way to erase this stigma is to talk about it. To share my truthful experiences, and hope that others will either be educated, or find comfort in knowing that they are not alone in their own struggle. When my mother moved in with me, she told family members that I was just "feeling a little lonely." But, it was a lot deeper than that. I wish I could talk about this disease openly. I'm beginning to try.

I want to stress that I have good days and bad days. Most people do. Mornings are the worst for me, but normally I can get down from a panic attack come the afternoon. I have moments when I am cheerful, full of jokes, and free from thoughts. But being in isolation has made that a lot harder. My intrusive thoughts are harder to get rid of because I don't have as many distractions around me. But, I am slowly starting to open myself up to new hobbies, walking outside more, and just trying to stay a little less cooped up. There is nothing fun about staring at the same four walls all the time.

So, this is me. I am a sarcastic, Greek mythology-loving, reality tv-watching bookworm, and I have OCD. This does not make me a bad person, and reaching out is the first step to recovery. I am prepared to beat this disease, and never, ever take positive thoughts for granted. I am hoping that once this pandemic is over, I will appear stronger on the other side. I can do this, and you can do this. We're all in this together.

If you or someone you know is suffering from OCD, the following resources have helped me:

International OCD Foundation:

Support group for women with OCD/Intrusive Thoughts:

Made of Millions:

Yes Theory:

Not an OCD resource, but a Youtube channel that has helped me to bring more positivity in my life and conquer fear:

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday, 8 May 2020

Paperback's Pondering's: What Are Your Ideal Reading Conditions?

It's been a while since I've done a discussion post! I felt compelled to write a post about reading conditions, because well, mine are specific. I know a lot of people differ when it comes to attention spans, no noise vs. a lot of noise, and I figured we could chat about it.

Basically, I envy people who can read just about anywhere. I hear a lot of people share reading playlists, meaning they listen to certain songs when they read, or being able to read on public transport or just about any vehicle. The truth is, that is not me! I get very, very antsy when I am not in an ideal position to read, and this usually results in me just skimming the page and not really retaining anything at all.

My ideal reading condition involves dead silence. I cannot have any noise. No tv on in the background, no music playing. If I am comfy sitting on the sofa reading, and someone comes to turn on the coffee machine, I have to get up and move somewhere quiet. My attention span requires a lot of silence! My mother can just read in the living room while we're all talking and watching tv, and I don't understand how she can comprehend anything that she's reading.

I also oddly enough, cannot read at night. Reading at night seems like such a typical activity, and staying up all night to finish a book is so common in the book community. Not for me! Now this is also probably related to my anxiety. I get most of my anxiety at night, so I can't really focus on much anyways. When I am in my bed at night, my attention is wiped. I need to watch some trashy tv or a sitcom that isn't complicated, because my brain just doesn't want to think. If I read at night, it basically seems like a chore.

Lastly, all of you people who can read in moving vehicles are superheros in my opinion. I think I tried to read in a car once and got so nauseous for the rest of the day. But, I can't even read on planes or on trains which may be a little more stable. I'm sorry, if I am moving, I'm not reading.

So, what is my dream reading condition? Like I said, it get's specific. In my bedroom, door closed, shades drawn up to let in some natural light. It is mid-afternoon, after lunch so I won't get hungry, and not too close to evening so I don't feel sluggish. I have to sit on my bed too. No chairs allowed.

I really wish I could open up these conditions a little more. But, I guess we all have little quirks that make us enjoy the experience a little bit more! I think the one thing I would love to get into is listening to music based on the aesthetic of the book. I think that is so awesome.

Now I want you to share. What are your ideal reading conditions? Are you one of those superheros who can read in a car? Let me know!

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday, 1 May 2020

Month in Review: April

Another month of quarantine is behind us. I definitely thought that April went by a lot faster than March, which is great! I guess I might be becoming more used to this whole isolation thing. That being said, I really hope it's over soon.

What I Read: 

Yes No Maybe So by: Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed: 4/5 stars
The Selection by: Kiera Cass: 4/5 stars
Rich People Problems by: Kevin Kawn: 4/5 stars
Two Can Keep a Secret by: Karen M. Mcmanus: 4/5 stars

Favourite book: It was the month of 4/5 stars! However, I think my win for favourite book goes to Rich People Problems. It is the last book in the Crazy Rich Asians series, and I thought it did a good job at wrapping things up. I'm actually really sad to let this series go.

What I Blogged:

Yay for consistent blogging! My favourite post of the month was my OMG! That Song! Book Tag. My music taste is all over the place (kinda like my book taste), so it was nice to share my favourite songs with you all.

Favourite Blog Posts: 

Cee shares her love for the tv show Arrow in a heartfelt letter. 

Erin features a guest post of fellow book bloggers' favourite quarantine reads. 

Jillian explains Why Student Journalism Matters 

Life Stuff: 

Like I said, this month went by a lot faster than March. I am happy because I am officially done 3rd year! This year did not end how I expected it to, but everything got finished, and my marks look ok, so that's all I can ask for. I will be taking a summer course though, simply because I have a lot more time on my hands now, and I figured I might as well gain a credit now so I'm not scrambling in the fall.

My sister and I started watching RuPaul's Drag Race this month. We absolutely love it! I think it's such a motivating, light-hearted show with an important message. I think it's also educated me on how I can be a better ally. Overall, it has really lifted my spirits.

I also started properly watching Schitt's Creek. I have caught a few episodes here and there in the past, but finally decided to watch it from the beginning. It is absolutely hilarious, and also makes me so proud as a Canadian that a show lead entirely by Canadians has made it so big all across the world.

In May, I am looking to improving my mental health, staying positive, and leaning on hope. Also, looking forward to some warmer weather, which has definitely brightened up my mood in the past!

How was your April? Have you read or watched anything good in isolation?

Emily @ Paperback Princess