Friday 18 December 2020

This is Kind of an Epic Love Story by: Kacen Callender

 Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary 

Published: October 30, 2018 by: Balzer and Bray 

Pages: 290 

Rating: 3/5 stars 

CW: cheating, grief after the death of a parent

Nathan Bird, a film buff and aspiring screenwriter, has lost all hope in love after his girlfriend Florence breaks up with him. However, Nathan and Florence remain friends, and Florence is determined to make Nathan believe in love again. Enter Oliver James Hernรกndez, Nathan's childhood best friend who has just returned to town. Nathan realizes he still has feelings for Ollie. But can he build up the courage to tell him? 

This was my first Kacen Callender book. I saw everyone talking about Felix Ever After, and while I had that book on hold, I decided to give this one a go. I will say, I did not enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. However, I still have faith in Callender's books because I ended up LOVING Felix Ever After. I just think the characters and themes in this novel fell a little flat. 

Let's start with the positives. I did think this was a cute and easy to get through novel. In a year that was filled with doom and gloom, it was nice to read something relatively positive and just get a bit of a serotonin boost. I liked how this book did not have many heavy themes or sorrow to it. It's a solid contemporary, and I appreciated that. 

I liked how this book incorporated a diverse cast of characters. Most of the characters are LGBTQ+ and POC. The love stories are not really sad and upsetting. The queer characters simply exist without being put through major trauma. This was refreshing to see, and I think is definitely needed in more books. 

That being said, I did have a problem with a lot of the character's actions. Nathan is kinda a jerk. Yes, he is a teenager and should make mistakes. However, he does a lot of shitty things to Oliver and his friends, and these actions are swept under the rug without any resolutions. I think it's important for teenagers to learn from their mistakes, and we don't get that here. 

There is also far too much cheating in this book for me. Cheating is so common that it's almost written off as normal. Nobody really shows remorse for cheating against their partners, and the cheating happens so quickly that you almost forget it's happened. I think this book didn't do its best to represent healthy relationships and honesty in relationships, and that was unfortunate. 

I think Callender is a writer who I want to read more from. I definitely don't want to write them off as a never to read again author, because Felix Ever After was incredible. However, this book didn't blow me away like I hoped it would, which sucked. 

Have you read This is Kind of an Epic Love Story? What did you think? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday 11 December 2020

What's On My 2021 TBR?

 I don't usually do TBR lists. I am a huge mood reader, and I get most of my books from the library, so normally I just browse the library until I find something that interests me. However, I feel like there have been a lot of books lately that I really want to get to in 2021. Some are new releases, and some have been out for a while. Hopefully I can check some of these off my list! 

1. These Violent Delights by: Chloe Gong 

These Violent Delights is a Romeo and Juliet retelling about rival gangs in 1920s Shanghai. This gives me major West Side Story vibes and I am here for it!!! 

2. The Tyrant's Tomb and The Tower of Nero by: Rick Riordan 

I really need to finish the Trials of Apollo series. I have two books left, and although I know I'll be so sad to leave the Camp Half Blood chronicles behind, it's about time that I see where Apollo's story ends. Ugh I will be a wreck though! 

3. The Ship of the Dead by: Rick Riordan 

Speaking of finishing Rick Riordan series, I also need to finish the Magnus Chase trilogy. I'm surprised this series hasn't been spoiled for me yet, but I plan to keep it that way. Like with the Trials of Apollo, I will be really sad to let this series go. But I do see plenty of rereads in my future. 

4. Son of a Trickster by: Eden Robinson 

Son of a Trickster is about a teenager named Jared who is trying to keep it all together despite his difficult family life. But to make matters more interesting, Jared's grandmother insists that Jared is a son of a trickster, and ravens start to talk to him. 

I really want to read this book because I plan on using it for research for (hopefully) my masters degree. I want to do a masters based on Indigenous literature, and this book is definitely on my list for books I think would benefit my research. 

5. Shadows Cast by Stars by: Catherine Knutsson 

In a world ravaged by a plague, Indigenous people's blood is being harvested as it contains the antibodies used to fight the disease. Sixteen year old Cassandra is on the run from government officials who will stop at nothing to get to her. She is determined to protect her and her family. 

Another novel that I hope to use should I be admitted into my masters program. I do love plague books, even during this time of COVID, and I think reading a science fiction novel from an Indigenous voice will be super interesting and will offer a unique perspective. 

6. The Gilded Wolves by: Roshani Chokshi 

I plan to buddy-read this novel with the members of my book club. The Gilded Wolves is about a treasure-hunter in 1889 Paris who is sent on a mission with a few unlikely companions in order to track down a hidden artifact. I love books set in Paris so I am really looking forward to reading this one. 

7. All Boys Aren't Blue by: George M. Johnson 

I love a good memoir. All Boys Aren't Blue chronicles the childhood experiences of George M. Johnson. Johnson discusses growing up in New Jersey and Virginia, attending college, and all of the trials that came in between. Along the way, they write about issues of toxic masculinity, gender identity, and more. This is supposed to be a really well-written memoir about what it's like to be Black and queer. I cannot wait to read this. 

8. Here for It; Or, How to Save Your Soul in America by: R. Eric Thomas 

Here for It is a nonfiction book of essay's by R. Eric Thomas. This book is supposed to be really funny, as Thomas discusses what it was like for a Black boy to go to school in white suburbia, but he also discusses coming to terms with his sexuality despite attending a highly conservative church. I do love when nonfiction books are able to bring in humour, so I have high hopes for this one. 

So, these are the books on my 2021 TBR! I can't guarantee that I'll get through all of them, but hopefully I will make some progress :) 

Do you have a 2021 TBR? What's on it?

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday 4 December 2020

The Silence of the Girls by: Pat Barker

 Genre: Historical Fiction, Mythology 

Published: September 4, 2018 by: Doubleday Books 

Pages: 291 

Rating: 3/5 stars 

CW: graphic descriptions of r*pe, graphic descriptions of war, blood and gore, misogyny, slavery

Briseis is a native Trojan, but her world comes crumbling down when the Greeks invade Troy. The Trojan War has begun. Briseis is kidnapped by the Greeks and brought to their camp as a slave. She is set to be a slave to Achilles, however Agamemnon also demands that Briseis belong to him. Achilles refuses to fight in defiance, and Briseis observes the two men fight for power. Briseis' story echoes that of many Trojan women during the war. These women were forgotten and abused, forced to endure trauma despite having no say in the war whatsoever. This novel seeks to tell their story. 

To say that I wanted to read this book would be an understatement. I have wanted to read this since it came out two years ago. But for some reason, I didn't get the chance until now. I absolutely love Trojan War retellings, and I figured that a book from Briseis' perspective would give a voice to a character who in the Iliad, is essentially voiceless. However, I can't say that this book was fully enjoyable. It was just... ok. 

I think Barker writes really well. This was my first time reading one of her novels, and her vivid descriptions really help to establish the world building in this novel. She did a great job at setting the scene of the war, and nothing was glazed over. I think it is definitely needed in a mythological retelling to make sure that the reader gets to know each and every character that plays a part in the story. Barker does develop all of the significant characters. 

 I will read any Trojan War retelling, and I will most probably not hate it. I'm very fascinated by the story of the Trojan War, and I'm always curious as to how different authors characterize the characters. I think Barker gives a great voice to Briseis, and I loved how she was the storyteller. Her perspective is one that I have always been curious about, and I'm happy that Barker took this opportunity to tell her story. Despite this story being a myth, you can't help but think about the countless women in Ancient Greece who did have to go through this trauma during war. It's a necessary story to tell. However, that being said, the story is also very disturbing with a lot of graphic descriptions. So be careful when reading, and be aware of the content warnings.

Like I hinted at before, I didn't love this book. And this is because Barker chooses to give Achilles' perspective about halfway through the novel. I thought this was unnecessary, as well as counterproductive, because the whole point of the novel is to give a voice to the Trojan women. By doing this, I think Barker attempts to humanize Achilles. But Achilles is canonically an asshole. Similarly, there are already a ton of books telling his story. We don't need it, and it significantly took away from my experience with the novel. 

I saw someone review this book saying that they think Barker actually wanted to tell Achilles' story, she but realized that was overdone, so she hid Achilles' story in a story of Briseis. I definitely see how this might have been the case. This book was too Achilles heavy, which disappointed me. Nobody needs an Achilles redemption arc. Give me the stories that haven't been told. 

Overall, this book was an example of one that I was so looking forward to reading, but it did fall short. It wasn't all bad. Like I said, Trojan War retellings pretty much always get at least a three star rating from me, because I love the story so much. However, I'm not sure this is the best retelling out there. 

Have you read The Silence of the Girls? What did you think? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess