Thursday 30 December 2021

Vampires, Hearts and Other Dead Things by: Margie Fuston

 CW: terminal illness of a parent/death of a parent, blood/body gore 

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy 

Published: August 24, 2021 by Margaret K. McElderry Books 

Pages: 320 

Rating: 4/5 stars 

Victoria and her father have always loved vampires, and they long for the day when they can find one together. However, her father has terminal cancer, and Victoria knows that if she wants her father to meet a vampire, she needs to find one herself who can make her a vampire so that she can save her dad. With her best friend, Victoria travels to New Orleans where she meets a mysterious man named Nicholas, who vows to deliver on Victoria's wish. However, Victoria must complete a series of tasks before Nicholas is willing to make her live forever, and these tasks will test what Victoria thought she knew about her and her father's greatest interest. 

I love vampire tropes. Whether it's a cheesy supernatural romance, a dramatic tv show, or an old novel, I absolutely cannot get enough of vampire mythology. So, this premise caught my eye. I thought that the idea of combining vampire mythology with the real-life conflict of illness and losing a parent could be fascinating. This book did not disappoint, and it delivered on some interesting themes and characterization. 

First off, I was hoping that this novel would give me some references to vampire moments in pop culture that I love, and it definitely did so. I wanted to hear Victoria and her father's opinions on Buffy, Twilight, Anne Rice, and of course, Dracula. I thought that Fuston did a great job at integrating these famous tropes while also showing Victoria's own unique perceptions of vampire mythology. There are so many different variations of the vampire out there, so it was great that Fuston singled in on what Victoria and her father believed to be true. It made their interest appear all the more real. 

I thought this novel developed Victoria's character well. I was concerned at first that a teenage girl who truly believes in vampires would annoy me, as her character may appear na├»ve. However, Victoria has so much knowledge in vampires that her interest was very believable. Also, I could understand how her love for her father drove her decisions. Even if it could have gotten her into danger, she was willing to do anything to help her father, and I could respect that. 

I didn't really love the character of Nicholas. I thought he wasn't as developed as Victoria, and he was extremely unlikable to the point where I wondered if he was more of a villain, even though he isn't written to be. I think people who write vampire stories could do better to make the vampire characters, particularly male vampire characters, more likable. Often, they come across as patriarchal, which isn't a good look. I need more soft and sweet vampires in the vampire world. 

Overall, I did enjoy this! I thought the ending was satisfying and the themes were well executed. It was a good addition to my vampire collection, though I would like to see more variety in terms of writing vampire characters. 

Have you read Vampires, Hearts and Other Dead Things? What did you think? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Sunday 26 December 2021

I'm Back! Updates and Plans for 2022

Hello blogging world! I think it's been no secret that I pretty much dropped off the face of the blogging earth these past few months. In September I planned on going on a short hiatus to sort out how to find a blog/life balance, as school has kept me very busy. But then, school pretty much only got worse in terms of busyness and I just knew that I would have no time at any point soon to return. However, now that I am on winter break and the main hustle and bustle of the holiday's are over, I have finally had the chance to open up the old blogging app, blow off the dust, and update you all. So here it is! 

What I Read: 

Over the past few months, I have been able to read some great books. Luckily, a lot of the books that I have to read for school are novels, and so even though I was technically doing school readings, I was still able to add to my Goodreads tally for the year. I am finishing out the year by reading about 175 books, which is a huge accomplishment, and the most books I've ever read in a year! I am very proud of myself and I credit a lot of that reading to the huge lockdown that Ontario was in for most of the winter and spring. While it's been very hard to pick some favourite books of the year, I will say that I was happy to read and enjoy some books outside of my comfort zone, including classics and non-fiction books. A few of these include Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, No Friend But The Mountains by Behrouz Boochani, and Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich. I hope to continue to push myself to read outside of my comfort zone in the new year. 

What I've Been Watching: 

Despite not being able to blog, I made it a point to set aside some time in the evening to unwind from school and watch some new shows. I finally got to The Umbrella Academy, and omg I absolutely loved it! Both seasons are on Netflix and the themes are so well-written, the action is so entertaining, and the banter is hilarious. If you love superhero tv and dark comedy, this show is the one for you! If you're curious, my favourite Hargreeves sibling is Diego :) 

I'm currently rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and its spin-off, Angel. I do think both of these tv shows have some fascinating themes, and I can't get enough of vampire tropes. So, these shows have very much kept me company these past few months. 

I do still have to get to Hawkeye, and I need to watch the new Spiderman movie. I've caught up with all of the Marvel movies that I've missed over the years, except for No Way Home. Judging by all of the positive reviews, I'm very much looking forward to watching it. 

Life Stuff: 

Obviously, school has been all-consuming since September. But I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't having a good time. I've made a lot of friends in my masters cohort. We're a small group so we look out for each other, which is great. My courses for the fall term were a little bit more general, but next term I have a superhero course to look forward to! I've been able to receive a lot of cool comics that I need to get to, which will for sure prepare me for that course. I'm super excited. 

Overall, my grades were good for the fall term, and the fun thing is, I've also been able to grade first-years as a teaching assistant! I'm really enjoying my position and learning first-hand what it's like to instruct university students. It's been pretty cool to learn. 

I've also been able to apply to a few creative writing competitions, and it's been fun to get back into writing. I also might have the opportunity to travel to Montreal in May for an academic conference, which is nerve-wracking, but would be pretty cool. Fingers-crossed it works out. 

Health-wise, I've been pretty much the same. Obviously I still deal with OCD and panic attacks, however for Christmas I got some cool self-care tools that I'm hoping to implement and see if they help in any way. School has also been a great distraction from worries and it helps to talk to friends as well. So, we're getting through it! 

Over the next few days, I'll be using some of the gift cards I received to buy some new books to read in 2022. I'm appealing to all of you guys to please send me your recommendations! Anything you've got, such as comics, non-fiction, poetry, and of course, YA, I'm willing to try. I'm looking forward to building up my bookshelf for the new year. 

I've been giving some thought into how to best return to blogging, and I think what makes the most sense is to start writing my posts in the evening time while I watch my shows. I think I can manage one post on Fridays, as I did before, and I just need to time manage a bit better. Of course, things might change, and I'm not going to pressure myself to stick to a routine, but this seems like a plan that will work. 

Overall, I want to apologize for not being as active on the commenting front. I'm hoping to get better at it, and hopefully this new plan will help. I'm really looking forward to seeing all that the book blogging community accomplishes in the new year, and I wish you all a happy and healthy 2022! 

Now it's time for you to please share with me what you've been up to these past few months! How was your holidays? Did you receive anything cool? What are your new year's resolutions? Talk to me! I've missed you guys :) 

Emily @ Paperback Princess