Friday, 26 June 2020

Two Dark Reigns (Three Dark Crowns #3) by: Kendare Blake

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Published: September 4, 2018 by: Quill Tree Books
Pages: 464
Rating: 4/5 stars

Katharine finally has her crown. But the war is far from over. Still reeling from the loss of her most trusted advisor, Katharine also faces her two estranged sisters, Mirabella and Arisone, who have aligned together and are hiding on the mainland. A mysterious Blue Queen visits the two joined sisters in visions, tempting them to return to Fennbirn and reunite with their sister once more. Also in hiding is Jules, and she is tasked with an frightening proposition: become a rebel leader and take Katharine down once and for all.

I LOVE this series. It's fiery and cool, and the family dynamics are off the charts. Basically each of the sisters has a power. Katharine can ingest deadly poisons without getting sick. Mirabella can use the elements to create chaos. And Arisone uses nature to fight her battles. The three girls are so different, and yet so alike. The third installment of this series was nothing short of entertaining.

I really enjoyed seeing Mirabella's and Arisone's relationship in this novel. In the previous books, the girls have been very much divided, as they fight separately for the title of Queen. Now that the "fight" is virtually over, Mirabella and Arisone can be reunited and are tasked with whether or not to fight with their sister and new queen, or see if they can change her. I think sisters in books is such a great trope, especially in fantasy novels, because the stakes are so high. This book offered a different sisterly bond than the previous two novels, which I enjoyed.

I also really enjoyed the focus on Jules in this book. She has always been an intriguing character to me, and this book is where she really shines. I loved how she had the potential to become a badass rebel leader, and yet she still was very rational and level-headed. I think Jules is a great character because she is relatable. She's not your typical power-hungry rebellious figure. She has her apprehensions, and she seems very worried with the burden of it all. I really felt for her in some moments.

The only thing that prevented me from giving this book a full five stars, is that I'm not crazy about the Blue Queen storyline. Idk, but I kinda liked the idea of the three sisters and the addition of Jules just fighting against each other and seeing who comes out on top. This new supernatural element of the Blue Queen just doesn't really interest me. I didn't get it, and I don't really see its significance.

That being said, I still thought this was a satisfying addition to the series. I can't wait to read the next book, and see how the triplets' storyline all plays out.

Have you read Two Dark Reigns? What did you think?

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday, 19 June 2020

My Love for the TV Show "Pose" #BlackTransLivesMatter

TW: discussion of police brutality, racism, and violence against Trans POC.

Hi all. I'm sure you are all aware of the extensive activism people have been doing over the past few months to combat police brutality and racism. I've seen a lot of people sharing books, movies and other pieces of media that they think accurately portrays the experiences of Black people in North America. So, given that it is Pride Month, and given that violence and murder against Trans people is an epidemic in North America, I felt like I wanted to share an amazing tv show that has really amplified the voices of Trans POC. It is Pose.

Pose is shown on FX, and I also believe it is available on Netflix in the US. It is about the lives of the Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ people of New York City, as they compete in the ballroom culture scene during the 1980's. The main character, Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista, is a Puerto-Rican Trans woman who creates her own house to compete in the balls, against her former house mother, the badass and glamorous Black Trans woman Elektra. Along the way, the show discusses the HIV/AIDS epidemic that impacted the LGBTQ+ community, and the government's lack of response. Race, gender, and the aspect of a chosen family play huge roles in this show. It is heavy material, but it is also incredible.

A few stylistic things about the show that I love. The soundtrack is incredible!!! I absolutely love 80's music, and found myself bopping along to the background music on multiple occasions. Not to mention that Broadway master Billy Porter is also on the show, meaning that the show does have a lot of musical theatre undertones. The costumes are amazing, the dance moves are OFF THE CHARTS. Seriously, the vogueing in this show puts Madonna to shame. (And Madonna's adaptation of vogueing does also come into play in the show).

Those a few of the more light-hearted things I love on the show. But at its core, this show does have some very important messages. Most of the characters on the show were disowned from their biological families, leaving them to be adopted by safe houses led by members of the LGBTQ+ community. These houses become a family. Blanca Evangelista is officially my favourite tv mother I've ever watched. She's just incredible.

Racial tensions play a huge factor. The characters are often subjected to racially and transphobic motivated attacks. In the second season, a very heavy episode sheds light on murdered Black Trans women. It was a very sad episode, but it was also such an important one to watch. It really exposed the violence that goes on against this community in real life, and what we can do to stop it.

Every episode ends with a quotation from an LGBTQ+ activist. I love reading these quotations as they seem to encompass the message of the episode and they also offer an answer to the question "where do we go from here?" I feel like often when watching pieces of media like this, people are left wondering: "ok, I've watched the show. I've read the book. Now what do I do?" This show has motivated me to become a better ally, to make sure my feminism is ALWAYS intersectional, and to pay attention to the ways in which my privilege as a cis-gendered and white passing woman protect me from harm everyday. So, after you've signed the petitions, contacted your leaders, and donated if you are able to, I would highly recommend this show. As Billy Porter said when he accepted his Emmy for his role in this show, "The Category is Love."

Have you watched Pose? What did you think?

A few resources to protect the lives of Trans POC: (Petition for Justice for Tony Mcdade, a Black Trans man killed by police in Florida) (a general petition to the Human Rights Campaign to protect Black Trans Women)

Actions and Resources for Solidarity  (this is a link to a google doc that has a bunch of links to petitions, charities, and organizations surround Black Trans Lives) (provides healthy and culturally specific meals to Black Trans people) (A mental health hotline and resource site for LGBTQ+ youth. If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community and are struggling, you can call them at 1 866- 488- 7386. They also have a number of helpful educational resources on their site!)

Friday, 12 June 2020

Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer Trilogy #1) by: Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Magical Realism
Published: November 5, 2019 by: Scholastic Press
Pages: 472
Rating: 3/5 stars
*this post contains minor spoilers from The Raven Cycle series. Highlight white text to reveal spoilers*

Ronan Lynch is a dreamer, meaning he has the power to pull things out of his dreams and into his reality. Jordan Hennessy is a thief, meaning she is tied to dream objects and will stop at nothing to get them. Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter, meaning she is threatened by dreamers and seeks to destroy them. Dreaming is a dangerous task, and Ronan's life is about to experience destruction like no other.

Anybody who knows me knows that I LOVED The Raven Cycle series. I pretty much finished the entire series in a week, and for about three months in 2015 I was a Richard Campbell Gansey III STAN. So naturally when I heard about a Ronan Lynch trilogy, I needed to get my hands on it. While it did satisfy my ache for all things Raven Cycle, I can't exactly call it a favourite.

What I love about Ronan is that he is such a complex character. He is riddled with trauma and inner demons, but is also a sarcastic king and secretly a softie. Him and Adam are one of my OTP's, and I was really glad to get glimpses of their relationship in this text. That being said, I think I needed more of it. I expected more of it.

I love the Lynch family as a whole, so I was happy to get a deeper insight into them through this book. Declan and Matthew have always fascinated me, and I found myself really interested in the Lynch storyline. I found some of my unanswered questions answered, so I thought this was a good companion to the Raven Cycle series.

Maggie Stiefvater writes magical realism so well. I am jealous of her writing style, and how she is able to craft worlds that are so unique and so mysterious. Her writing has such a dream-like quality (pun intended) to it. This book was no exception.

I can't say I was obsessed with this book though. I honestly didn't care much for the new characters introduced, and I just found myself wanting more of Adam, more of Blue, and tbh more of Gansey. I mean, I expected that Blue and Gansey would not be in this book, but that still doesn't mean I didn't hold out a little bit of hope. I think the characters are just so strong in The Raven Cycle that I expected to fall in love with all of these new characters as much as I did with the others. That was not the case.

I also thought this book was a little long for me. It seemed to drag in parts, and I felt that because I wasn't connected with the new characters, I just wanted it to end sooner. I wasn't as emotionally invested in this book as I have been with Stiefvater's other books.

Overall, I don't think I will continue with this series. This book did give me some great nostalgia, but I think I will just re-read The Raven Cycle if I ever want to revisit Ronan's character. That being said, if you're a Raven Cycle fan, it's worth a shot.

Have you read Call Down the Hawk? What did you think?

Emily @ Paperback Princess