Friday 30 July 2021

Month in Review: July

This summer has not been very... summery. It started off pretty hot, but July has been comprised of a lot of dreary days and just uncomfortable humidity. Hopefully August will bring more of the sunshine! Anyways, here's what happened in the busy month of July: 

What I Read: 

Parable of the Sower by: Octavia E. Butler: 4/5 stars 

One Story, One Song by: Richard Wagamese: 4/5 stars 

Girls of Paper and Fire books 1 and 2 by: Natasha Ngan: 4/5 stars 

The Marvelous Mirza Girls by: Sheba Karim: 4/5 stars 

Jonny Appleseed by: Joshua Whitehead: 4/5 stars 

Favourite book of the month: It was a consistently good reading month. As you can see, all of the books got the exact same rating! I'm going to have to give the favourite book title to Girls of Paper and Fire by: Natasha Ngan. I'm very picky with fantasy books, but this premise and the diverse cast of characters really affected me. Also, the author has detailed content warnings at the beginning. Make this a trend, authors! 

What I Blogged: 

I really liked my discussion post of How I Choose What Book To Read Next. Any time when I get to chat with fellow bookworms and learn about different methods of reading is a good thing! 

Favourite Blog Posts of the Month: 

Sabrina shares 16 DNF's She Wished She Loved

Marie discusses 7 Ways Her Blogging Has Changed In 7 Years 

I'm sure this wasn't necessarily a fun post to write, but Roberta @ Offbeat YA has a New Twitter Account. Read her post for more details and give her a follow after her stressful tech issue. 

Life Stuff: 

July was an extremely busy month. At the beginning of the month I had a procedure done to determine why my stomach is revolting against me, and long story short... they don't know. It's probably related to my mental illness, but I'm now on a very restricted diet to find out if it's food related. So, I've spent a lot of time over July baking gluten free treats and finding new ways to cook, which has actually been pretty fun and rewarding. I've got some great recipes under my belt now. 

I've also been busy working at my retail job. We've been swamped as we're right in the heart of a tourist destination, and a lot of people have been wanting to get out of the house. I don't mind being busy as long as people are respectful and follow protocols, which isn't always the case. But I guess that's life. 

I've gotten really into comic books this month. I found a comic book store in a nearby city, and since the comics are very affordable, I've had a lot of fun reading different ones. My favourites so far have been the Winter Solider: Second Chances series by: Kyle Higgins. It's great to see Bucky in this big brother type role for other victims of manipulation. 

In August I'm getting my third tattoo, which should be exciting! I'm also going to start preparing for school in September, and I'm curious to see how returning back to in-person learning will affect me. There's been a lot of changes, for sure, but I'm looking forward to seeing how things turn out. 

That was my July. How was yours? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Wednesday 21 July 2021

Paperback's Pondering's: How I Choose What Book To Read Next

Hello everyone! Today's post is going to be a discussion that I feel like there are a lot of mixed opinions on: how I choose what book to read next. I think that everyone's got a different method as to deciding what books they're going to read and in what order. My method may be a bit odd to some. But, I'm mainly writing this post because I find my method a little bit boring, and I'm looking for ways to shake up how I read. I would love to hear your opinions as to how I can make choosing my next read as enjoyable as reading is. 

I'll start off by saying that I don't exactly relate to the idea that I have tons of unread books on my shelf and I can't choose which one to read next. Books can get pretty expensive in Canada, and so if I buy a book, I'm buying it because I absolutely want to read it. Books that I buy physically will most likely get read first, because it's rare that I have brand-new physical copies in my possession. I make the most use out of my online library when I'm not buying my books, which now leads me to my method of deciding what book I want to borrow online. 

My method mainly is... that there is no method. However, this is why I say that I need to make things more interesting. I have a few favourite book genres that I've bookmarked on my online library, mainly pertaining to YA. Most often I will go through the YA romance and YA social themes categories, and I will just scroll until I hit a book that I've seen buzz for online, or that catches my eye either through the cover or who the author is. The problem with this method is that I don't necessarily go for lesser-known books or indie authors, as I tend to let my focus on buzz and well-known authors win the battle for what books get chosen. This is partly my fault, and I do think that I should broaden my horizons as to what books I go for. However, my library also doesn't do the best to highlight lesser-known books, so I would like some ways to get around this issue. 

Another thing that does sway what book I will borrow is diversity. At least for myself, if a book doesn't have at least one element of diversity in it, then I won't pick it up. I prefer to go for books that are OwnVoices, however I understand that the OwnVoices discourse is very complicated nowadays and I also don't like to assume somebody's identity or go digging for something that may be private. That being said, sometimes I will do research on an author whose book catches my eye, to make sure that they seem like they're respectful and conscious of the subject matter that they're writing about. 

So diversity and book buzz aside, I would like to find a way that will make choosing a book at the library a little more fun. This is because my reading tends to stay a bit more in my comfort-zone, as I choose books that I know are hyped, or that only pertain to my favourite genres. I do watch booktube and get some recommendations from there, but as a whole, a big chunk of my reading just comes from sticking to what I already know. I would love to experiment more with unique tropes, different genres, and different types of characters. I think I need to refine my technique (or lack thereof) to make this possible. 

One of my favourite booktubers, Jesse @ Bowties and Books, sells TBR cards in which you can pick your next read based on a fun category that the cards bring up. This is one way for me to make reading a bit more fun. However, I'm also open to other options, and I'm genuinely curious as to what you guys do to make your tbr fun. Or, are you like me, stuck in an endless cycle of scrolling through a library app? 

Please share your thoughts with me. I'm looking for ways that are library friendly, cost effective, and most importantly, fun. If you know me in real life, you know that I love games, so any way I can turn reading into a game is perfect with me. 

How do you choose what books to read next? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Wednesday 14 July 2021

I Wish You All The Best by: Mason Deaver

 Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary 

Published: May 14, 2019 by: Push 

Pages: 329 

Rating: 5/5 stars 

CW: homophobia, transphobia, mis-gendering, parental neglect, anxiety and panic attacks 

When Ben comes out as non-binary to their parents, their parents immediately react with hatred and kick Ben out of the house. With nowhere to go, Ben reconnects with their estranged sister and her husband, and the couple take Ben in and begin to reconcile the past. Ben is forced to attend a new school and meet with a therapist to cope with their anxiety disorder. While at their new school, they befriend Nathan, a charming and energetic student who shows Ben that there is hope even in the darkest of times. Nathan's and Ben's friendship begins to blossom into something more, and Ben soon learns that family does exist where you least expect it. 

This book was a whirlwind of emotions. There were moments of anger, frustration, sadness, but also times of joy and renewal. While this book deals with some very emotional subject matter, it is ultimately a tale of triumph in a young non-binary teen's life. I think that this book is a great example of a coming of age story for non-binary teens who need to know that they do belong. 

Ben is an incredibly well-rounded character. They go through a variety of stages throughout the book, as they start at their lowest point, and eventually come into their own. Ben at the beginning of the book is completely different to Ben at the end of the book, and this development was so wonderful to see. While this book does start off very hard for this young character, you will end up rooting for Ben through every of their milestones. 

I loved the character of Nathan and the sunshine that he brought to the book. While Ben goes through very low points for obvious reasons, Nathan was always there to lift them up and to offer some support and sometimes humour in tough situations. I haven't read a book in a while with such a strong sunshine character, and Nathan certainly fulfilled this role. He was a great addition to the cast of supporting characters. 

I also really loved Ben's sister and brother in-law. Things start off very awkward when Ben arrives to their sister's house, as they haven't talked in forever. While having a non-binary sibling is new and unexpected for Ben's sister, she grows, apologizes when she makes mistakes, and commits herself to getting pronouns right and making life a little easier for her sibling. This was great to see. 

I also loved the therapy representation in this book. Ben is dealing with some serious mental health issues, which all becomes amplified due to parental neglect. Their therapist is understanding and patient, as well as incredibly open to the unique needs that Ben has given that they are non-binary. I enjoyed all of the scenes between Ben and their therapist and how therapy has a positive impact in Ben's life. 

Overall, I loved this book. You will get angry at Ben's parents for the pain that they put their child through, but I also think it's important that readers know that there is hope at the end of this novel. While tough issues that face non-binary teens need to be talked about, non-binary joy should also be shared, and this book does just that. 

Have you read I Wish You All The Best? What did you think? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday 9 July 2021

A Discovery of Witches by: Deborah Harkness *Spoiler Review*

 Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance 

Published: February 2011 by: Viking Penguin 

Pages: 579 

Rating: 1.5/5 stars 

CW: gore, torture, violence, death of a parent 

*this review will contain spoilers because I can't contain my frustration*

Diana Bishop is a descendent of witches, however after being orphaned at a young age, she has tried to distance herself from her magical powers. Instead, Diana turns to scholarship, and she becomes an accomplished professor at Oxford University. When calling up a manuscript as part of her research, Diana learns that the manuscript is bewitched, and there are many magical creatures, including vampires, who want to take the manuscript from her grasp. Diana soon finds herself in the company of Matthew, a charming vampire who is willing to help her protect the manuscript and herself. However, Diana soon realizes that in order to protect herself, she will have to start using her powers again. 

I like to describe this book as Twilight for adults. Now, I am not one for book shaming. Twilight is very much a comfort series for me. While the books have obvious problematic elements, I can appreciate them for what they are: entertainment. However, A Discovery of Witches pissed me off more than Twilight ever has. I think it's because it tried to do something intelligent with the paranormal romance genre, and instead it came across as condescending and just plain cringy. 

Let's start with the main character, Diana. Now I could very much appreciate that she was a scholar and gained her own independence once her parents died. The problem is, that this all gets thrown out the window once Matthew arrives. When Diana grows closer to Matthew, she seems to lose all sense of street smarts and instead opts to trust Matthew's misogynistic and creepy ways because his eyes are dreamy. She is also an incredibly predictable character, who magically becomes this figure of "The Chosen One," even though she's been out of the practice for so long. How convenient that Diana is suddenly uplifted to be this all-magical being in all of two minutes despite her distaste towards magic? I know we were supposed to root for her, but she contained all of these basic white woman tropes and I was just generally annoyed that her scholarship was watered down once the man came into the picture. 

Matthew is Edward Cullen. He is sexist, believes that he needs to control every aspect of a woman's life, and he whispers sweet nothings into Diana's ear, except the sweet nothings are always in French, to make it fancy. He is also rich but blissfully unaware of his own 1000 years of privilege. Side note, but why do vampires always have to be rich? He marries Diana without her consent, and he rarely asks for her opinions on things because he's a super-smart vampire and he can just make all the decisions himself. Am I supposed to like this guy? 

Harkness wastes a lot of time describing things that just seem unimportant and a little bit condescending to the average person reading the book. Diana and Matthew drink wine, but it's an expensive wine because they're both super rich and can afford it. Diana and Matthew go to yoga class, because they like to stay in shape and because they're super rich and can afford it. Diana and Matthew go to stay in Matthew's castle, because Matthew is super rich and can afford it. These characters did not seem relatable to me at all and I'm over having to like characters that just have it all. 

Now, I still rated this book 1.5 stars, because believe it or not, there was one thing about this book that I liked! Diana is a history professor who is especially intrigued by alchemy. So, the book does go a bit into the history of alchemy which I found to be interesting, and it did send me into a rabbit hole of googling to learn more, which was a good thing. However, this did not fully redeem the book for me, obviously. 

Overall, I would not recommend this book. I think if you want to read a comforting paranormal romance, then read more diverse novels that explore more complex themes than what wine Diana and Matthew are going to drink with dinner in a castle. 

Have you read A Discovery of Witches? What did you think? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday 2 July 2021

Month in Review: June

It's very hot up here in Canada right now. Not that I'm complaining. I love the warm weather and everything about summer. However I also understand that this weather is not for everyone, so I hope you all stay cool if you're in a hot climate right now as well! This is what my June looked like: 

What I Read: 

Love After The End edited by Joshua Whitehead: 4/5 stars 

Born A Crime by Trevor Noah: 4/5 stars 

Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga: 5/5 stars 

Kate In Waiting by Becky Albertalli: 5/5 stars 

People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry: 4/5 stars 

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston: 4.5/5 stars 

Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee: 4/5 stars 

Jay's Gay Agenda by Jason June: 4/5 stars 

Favourite Book: Seven Fallen Feathers was an emotional but important non-fiction novel about the epidemic of Indigenous children and teens going missing in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The book has elements of a crime book while still being extremely sensitive to the victims and their families. The author is also Indigenous, so this book truly comes from a place of respect. While it's a very hard read, it's also extremely necessary especially considering the things coming up in Canadian news as of recent. 

What I Blogged: 

I really enjoyed my post about The Fetishization Of M/M Romance And Representation That I Need To Read More Of. I am really passionate about that subject matter so it was good to get some frustrations off my chest, and receive some great tips from fellow readers! 

Favourite Blog Posts Of The Month: 

Simone says: "Please Don't Assume That I Need Healing" 

Nicole talks about The Joys Of Verse Novels 

Cee discusses the film Jojo Rabbit: The Bittersweet Tale of Captain K

Life Stuff: 

This month was very busy! I continued to freelance write, which got me through the beginning and middle of the month, but by the end of the month, my manager called me back to work at my in-person job. Ontario has been in lockdown since December, but vaccine rollout has gotten better, so the government decided it was okay for retail stores to open up again. Now I'm doing freelance stuff on the side, while also working a couple times a week in-person. While seeing strangers again is always worrying, I'm glad to get back into a normal routine. 

In other great news, I am now fully vaccinated! I am so happy that me and my entire family have put the vaccination stress behind us. It's a huge weight off of our shoulders. If you can, please go get the shot! 

I watched Loki this month, and I am absolutely loving it. It's such a complex, unique show and I never knew how much I loved Loki until watching it. Now I look forward to every Wednesday when it comes out. I can't believe season one will be over soon :( 

This July, I will continue to work, and also try to do my part to raise more awareness on issues that Indigenous populations face. As July 1st marks Canada Day, I am thinking a lot more critically on the problems with this country and why it's crucial that the world doesn't write Canada off as being "better than the US." I also hope that people will think about how capitalism exploits issues like this, so that we can decide how to ethically support marginalized communities. For more information on the capitalization of Indigenous issues, visit this link 

So, that was my June. Very busy, but also very hopeful for a better future. How was your June? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess