Friday, 30 April 2021

Month in Review: April


CW: this post will briefly discuss intrusive thoughts/OCD 

April was.... a month. There were a lot of ups and a lot of downs, but I've made it to the end! And that's all that counts. 

What I Read: 

Rain is Not My Indian Name by: Cynthia Leitich Smith: 4/5 stars 

Happily Ever Afters by: Elise Bryant: 5/5 stars 

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by: Suzanne Collins: 3.5/5 stars 

Loveboat, Taipei by: Abigail Hing Wen: 4/5 stars 

The Tower of Nero by: Rick Riordan: 3/5 stars 

The Moonflower Murders by: Anthony Horowitz: 4/5 stars 

The Left Hand of Darkness by: Ursula K. Le Guin: 2.5/5 stars 

Anne of Green Gables Books 2, 3, and 4 by: Lucy Maud Montgomery: Avg. rating: 3/5 stars 

Lore by: Alexandra Bracken: 2/5 stars 

Favourite book: It obviously has to be Happily Ever Afters by: Elise Bryant! I got this recommendation from booktube and I loved it. It's about a bi-racial girl who writes fluffy rom-coms, but struggles to finds her words when she moves to a prestigious art school. It had great representation, the love story was so well developed, and it just made me feel validated as well. 

Side note, but I did expect The Tower of Nero to be my favourite of this month, as it was my most anticipated read of this year. I was so hyped to see where the Camp Half Blood series would end after loving it for more than ten years. But, it fell flat. Review to come :( 

What I Blogged: 

I really loved sharing a recommendation list for My Favourite Romantic Books by Asian Authors. Most of the rom-coms I love are from Asian authors as I feel like I can relate to them, so it was nice to share some of my faves. 

Favourite Blog Posts of the Month: 

Veronika shares her Thoughts on the Shadow and Bone Adaptation 

Sabrina gets Personalized Recommendations from The Storygraph 

Greg rants a bit in Sunday Post (but it was a very well thought out and I think a necessary rant) 

Life Stuff: 

Life was rough this month! I had a few days of quite intense panic attacks brought on by my harm intrusive thoughts, which was unexpected and also I hadn't experienced them this bad since I first got diagnosed with OCD over a year ago. I talked with my therapist and she suggested readjusting medication. Long story short I am now on an anti-psychotic drug which I think is helping, but it also makes me really sleepy so that is something to contend with. I do think there is a stigma around medication and especially around anti-psychotics, but I am willing to change the narrative. I do think for my OCD anti-psychotics could be very helpful, and I hate that some people are so anti-medication. Do what makes you get better! But speaking of getting better, I am getting better. Haven't had a panic attack in about a week. Like I said before, I am pretty tired now, but I think I just need to get used to the medication so we are pushing on! 

This month wasn't all bad. I got a job at a freelance writing agency which is fun. It's nice that I can pick my projects depending on how busy I am, so I am in control. I am happy that I'll have something to occupy me during the summer, especially since my sister who I usually hang out with also got a job with the government!! That is major good news because it is right in the field she is interested in, so that was also nice to celebrate this month. 

I watched the whole of the Shadow and Bone tv show in about 24 hours, and I l LOVED it. It has definitely inspired me to re-read Six of Crows. The characters, the acting, the costumes, everything was just so well done. Now I'm setting my eyes on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. 

I'm also starting to work on my upcoming MA degree now that I'm done undergrad. Exciting changes are coming! 

In random news, I'm getting my wisdom teeth out on Wednesday. I've never had to be sedated before so I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous, but it should be fine. They have been hurting me so I just want them out at this point. But this is also to say that I'm not sure if I'll post next week, depending on how I'm feeling. 

Anyways, that was my month! The good, the bad, and the in-betweens. I'm hoping for more sunshine and some more wisdom (see what I did there?) in May. 

How was your April? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday, 23 April 2021

In The Dream House by: Carmen Maria Machado

 Genre: Memoir 

Published: November 5, 2019 by: Graywolf Press 

Pages: 251 

Rating: 5/5 stars 

CW: graphic depictions of domestic abuse (physical and emotional/verbal) 

In this harrowing and poignant memoir, Carmen Maria Machado articulates her experiences in an abusive same-sex relationship. To do so, Machado uses chapters that mirror specific writing tropes and techniques, as well as the overall symbol of "the dream house." Overall, this memoir will resonate with victims of abuse, or anyone who wants to know more about the history of same-sex abuse and the lengths that some have went to in order to cover it up. 

I loved this memoir. Recently I have gotten really into non-fiction and memoir, and it is through books like these that make me appreciate this genre all the more. In The Dream House is a disturbing read for sure, as Machado does not hold anything back in terms of detailing the abuse that she has endured. I would caution all victims to take care of themselves when reading this book. Something that Machado did in her storytelling that really resonated with me is how she used writing tropes to tell her story. Machado created a world that both critiques the handling of same-sex abuse in society, as well as the handling of abuse in writing practices. 

The main symbol that Machado carries throughout her book is the idea of "the dream house." That is, the house that she shared with her abusive partner and the false reality of "a dream house" that many abuse survivors can create in their minds. The dream house functions through a chapter by chapter summary of Machado's life through her relationship with her abuser and with the dream house itself. But, Machado writes each chapter through the lense of a different writing trope. For example, one chapter is "The Dream House as a Gothic," or "The Dream House as a Femme Fatale." Therefore, Machado is able to comment on her abuse by using typical writing tropes to do so. These writing tropes are destabilized and somewhat exposed for their treatment of abuse and abused queer people. So, there is interesting commentary on how the tradition of writing has impacted marginalized individuals. 

I loved this book so much that I actually wrote on it for an assignment for a Queer Theory course. We were tasked with finding something that could function as a queer archive. I was struck by how Machado commented on the history of same-sex domestic abuse and how homophobia has covered it up. Through an examination of each writing technique or trope, Machado brings in a discussion of how history has done queer people wrong. Same-sex domestic abuse is not widely talked about in mainstream activism, and Machado forces people to pay attention to it and make it a crucial part of the discussion of queer history and of queer rights. 

I should also mention that Machado is a queer Latina woman, and so this novel also brings in a discussion of race and how race and sexuality are interconnected. Overall, this novel really resonated with me both in its ability to tell an emotional story with sensitivity and power, but also in the way it comments on queer history and the practice of writing. If you are a writer, a survivor, an ally, or really any person, you must give this a read. 

Have you read In The Dream House? What did you think? 

Emily @ Paperback Princes

Friday, 16 April 2021

My Favourite Romantic Books by Asian Authors

CW: this post will briefly mention anti-Asian racism 

Asian writers have been subject to a lot of racism and trolling as of late. I won't go into the details because I think it will bring up a lot of trauma and I wanted to take this opportunity to spread some joy. So, I decided to share some of my favourite romantic books by Asian authors. 

Asia is a diverse continent full of unique cultures. Not every Asian's experience will be the same, and that's why books by different Asian authors are all interesting in their own right. I encourage you to read from a wide scope of Asian writers in order to get a diverse experience. I have also decided to focus this list on the theme of romance, because I have read so many books by Asian authors that have incredible ships and such amazingly well-written couples. Not all of these books just fall into the category of romance, but some might give you the opportunity to read more light-hearted Asian stories as opposed to just reading about trauma. While stories of the harsh realities of Asian people are needed, it is also integral to read books that spark joy. So without further adieu, here is my list. 

1. Loveboat, Taipei by: Abigail Hing Wen 

This book centers around Ever, a Taiwanese senior with a passion for dance who has been sent to Taiwan to study Mandarin by her strict parents. Ever finds herself in between a diverse group of individuals and soon finds herself falling in love. But along the way she also discovers more about herself and why she may have a strained relationship with her parents. I loved this book. The chemistry between the main love interests was incredible, and Ever goes through a great journey of self-love throughout the book. But not only is the book romantic, it also explores parental/child relationships and the sacrifices that immigrant parents have to make. 

2. Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Tea Shop by: Roselle Lim 

Vanessa Yu is able to tell people's fortunes by reading tea leaves. But even though she knows other people's futures, she is unsure of her own. She takes up the opportunity to live with her Aunt in Paris, and along the way she becomes determined to match her Aunt up with her Aunt's long lost love, and perhaps find some love of her own as well. This book was magical, whimiscal, and beautifully written. The love stories were powerful and adorable, and I loved that this book was set in Paris but didn't contain a white protagonist. 

3. Sex and Vanity by: Kevin Kwan 

Being bi-racial, Lucie has always found herself caught in between her Chinese roots on her mother's side, and her life of high white privilege on her father's side. When Lucie meets George Zao on the island of Capri during a glamorous wedding, she is immediately drawn to him. However, the white side of her family is less than accepting of her choice, and the book follows Lucie and George through a number of years as they make their way back to each other. I know so many people love Crazy Rich Asians by: Kevin Kwan, myself included. His latest book Sex and Vanity explores colonial ideals, white privilege, and growing up bi-racial. Of course, there is also descriptions of the super-rich and amazing chemistry in the middle of it all. 

4. To All the Boy's I've Loved Before by: Jenny Han 

Lara Jean Song-Covey has written letters to everybody she has ever loved. But when the letters one day mysteriously get out, she employs a fake dating scheme with one of her letter receipients in order to protect herself from the embarassment of her new crush. This book is super popular, thanks to the movie series. But if you've watched the movies but haven't read the books, please do. The books are comforting, give great insight into sibling relationships, and also go deeper into Lara Jean's Korean identity. This series will always remain a comfort for me. 

5. These Violent Delights by: Chloe Gong 

In 1926 in Shanghai, powerful gangs rule the streets. Juliette Cai is the heir to the Scarlet Gang, and she vows to make her father proud. On the other side, Roma Montagov is the heir of the Scarlet's rivals, The White Flowers, which is a Russian gang fighting to take over Scarlet territory. Roma was Juliette's first love, and when a mysterious illness and an even stranger creature starts invading Shanghai, the two must reunite to save their families. Roma and Juliette are such a powerful couple. This is a Romeo and Juliet retelling, but it is so much more complex, so intense, and also quite romantic. Please read it! 

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

Flora is an orphan who has been forced to disguise herself as the pirate Florian on a dangerous ship with their brother Alfie. Soon Flora becomes tasked with protecting Lady Evelyn, a noble girl who is being forced across the seas to enter an arranged marriage. Neither Flora nor Evelyn know the adventure that they will be undertaking, and it will be one that involves magic, mermaids, and new love. I didn't expect to love this book as much as I did. But it was so interesting! Evelyn is Japanese and Flora is Black and genderqueer. He uses multiple pronouns throughout the book. Overall this book had an amazing queer romance and some really interesting characters. 

7. 10 Things I Hate About Pinky by: Sandhya Menon 

Pinky Kumar has always been too rebellious for her conservative lawyer parents. But one summer up at her family's Cape Cod house, she devises a plan to fake-date Sami Jha, a Harvard-bound law student who can get on Pinky's nerves, but who would be the perfect candidate to impress her parents. I love all of Menon's books. They are easy to read and fun, and always have a great dash of Indian culture and humour. Pinky was such a fun protagonist and the fake dating trope was alive and well in this book. 

So, this is my list of books by Asian authors that get love stories right! Let me know if you have read these or if you have any other recommendations. 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday, 9 April 2021

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimanline

 Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Science Fiction

Published: September 1, 2017 by Dancing Cat Books 

Pages: 231 

Rating: 4/5 stars 

CW: blood and gore, racism against Indigenous people, colonization, violence 

Futuristic Earth is ravaged by global warming, and it has impacted the world so that non-Indigenous people cannot dream. The inability to dream leads to madness, and a group of people known as "recruiters" are scouring North America for the cure. The cure lies in the bone marrow of Indigenous people, who are now on the run from the people who want to steal their marrow and wipe out their nations. Fifteen year old Frenchie and his friends are a few of the many Indigenous teens that are trying their hardest to reconnect with old family members and stay hidden from the recruiters. But, will they make it across the continent alive? 

I picked up this book on a whim because I had heard good things about it. Boy was I blown away by it! It was suspenseful, tense, and a great addition to the YA dystopia/science fiction genre. The cast of characters were powerful and well-written, and the premise brings about issues that go a lot deeper than just an apocalypse. 

First off, I think it was really smart of the author to have the reasoning of the end of the world being from global warming. This is because Indigenous people have had to deal with colonizers ruining their land for centuries. Indigenous Nations care deeply about the land and the environment, however capitalism that is often driven by racism has caused a lot of the global warming that we know today. While I hope our earth never gets to the level that it is in Dimaline's novel, I do think that the issue is represented well in the novel. This issue tells a greater story about colonization and the drive that Indigenous people have to protect their land. 

The characters were also lovable, but also flawed which I really appreciated. Frenchie is the main character, and he travels with a group of friends, along with other characters he meets along the way. I especially loved Minerva and RiRi, who eventually become like family to Frenchie. The group of teens and children in this novel were extremely tight-knit, and even though they had to survive amongst horrid circumstances, their bond was so powerful. I love reading about powerful friendships in novels. 

This book does make allusions to such horrid things in North American history. The idea of the recruiters wanting to steal from Indigenous people and commit experiments on them is sadly nothing new in the history of Canada and the States. There are also allusions to residential schools, which for those of you who don't know, was a way for the Canadian government to steal Indigenous children and torture them through the guise of Christianity. These issues and more are brought up in this novel, and I thought it was extremely powerful how the novel was able to bring about real-life issues in a science fiction setting. In this case, art sadly imitates life. 

I will say I would have loved a bit more expansion on the ending of the novel. I think I would have loved more development of the characters and a bit of a longer conclusion. I needed more to feel the novel come full circle. However, I applaud the author's use of tension and this was an extremely captivating book. 

It's also worthy to note that this book is Own Voices, which is always a good thing. Overall, "The Marrow Thieves" is for everyone. Whether you are a fan of science fiction or you wish to know more about Indigenous lives, this book does it all. It inspired me to take up a Masters Degree in Indigenous Literature, in which I will be researching the novel in greater depth. I cannot wait, and I hope you all will give it a read as well. 

Have you read The Marrow Thieves? What did you think? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday, 2 April 2021

Month in Review: March


CW: this post will discuss COVID-19 and health anxiety 

Happy April everyone! It's pretty rainy here in Canada right now, but we have had some warmer days in March so I am optimistic that things will be looking sunnier very soon. But, this is your friendly reminder that even if the weather is nice, wear your mask, avoid unnecessary outings, and that patio beer isn't really worth it. C'mon people, it's not that hard. Anyways, here's what I got up to in March: 

What I Read: 

The Sword of the Rightful King by: Jane Yolen: 4/5 stars 

Freak the Mighty by: Rodman Philbrick: 2/5 stars 

Sex and Vanity by: Kevin Kwan: 5/5 stars 

The Death of Vivek Oji by: Akwaeke Emezi: 5/5 stars 

Freshwater by: Akwaeke Emezi: 4/5 stars 

Can't Take that Away by: Steven Salvatore: 5/5 stars 

No Friend but the Mountains by: Behrouz Boochani: 5/5 stars 

Favourite book: It was a great reading month for me, with a lot of high ratings. However if I had to pick a favourite, it would go to Sex and Vanity. I have missed Kevin Kwan's writing so much since finishing the Crazy Rich Asians series, and I was so happy to get back into his hilarious footnotes and epic love stories. 

What I Blogged: 

I think I got back into the blogging mood this month, which is good. I wrote a discussion post on If Characters Can be Redeemed, and I got a lot of great feedback on a writing dilemma that I was having. So thank you so much if you offered your help! 

Favourite Blog Posts: 

Cee talks about living Outside of the Norm 

Sabrina shares her Nine Favourite Disney Movies

Marie shares her Thoughts After a Year on Bookstagram 

Roberta discusses Social Media as a part of Tell Me Something Tuesday 

Life Stuff: 

This is the time of year where I get the worst allergies. The problem is, that my health anxiety goes haywire whenever I get a sore throat now and makes me believe it's covid. Of course it's good to be cautious when you experience symptoms, but allergies are so common for me and my mind is now going to the worst care scenario. So that's kind of frustrating. But, I am working on calming myself down, working through my symptoms to analyze if it is truly out of the ordinary, and just trying not to panic. Easier said then done, I know. 

But on another note, I am almost done my undergraduate degree! This coming week is my last week of classes, and then it's preparing for the future. Which I am equally excited/nervous about. 

I have been watching a lot of Survivor this month. If you have followed me on Twitter for a while, you will know that I love that reality show, and I've been working on re-watching the old seasons now. It has brought me such comfort and joy, and it's always nice to seek solace in a tv show. 

For April I will work on final essays, that dreaded short story cycle I was telling y'all about, and just staying healthy. I hope you guys have a great April!

How was your March? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess