Wednesday, 27 April 2022

Month in Review: April

My month in reviews have been on and off since I've taken a few hiatuses, but I'm finally in a good place to bring them back! April was so chaotic, so let's get into it: 

What I Read: 

A Lesson in Vengeance by: Victoria Lee: 4/5 stars 

Laughing All the Way to the Mosque by: Zarqa Nawaz: 5/5 stars 

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by: Malinda Lo: 4/5 stars 

Arsenic and Adobo by: Mia P. Manansala: 4/5 stars 

Lore Olympus by: Rachel Smythe: 5/5 stars 

Care Of by: Ivan Coyote: 5/5 stars 

Honey Girl by: Morgan Rogers: 4/5 stars 

The Fire Never Goes Out by: ND Stevenson: 5/5 stars 

Favourite book: It was overall a great month for reading! I'm going to have to give my favourite book prize to Laughing All the Way to the Mosque by: Zarqa Nawaz. Nawaz created the popular Canadian tv show Little Mosque on the Prairie, and she embodies everything I want to be as a writer: funny, but also incredibly concious of representation and social issues. 

What I Blogged: 

Like I said, blogging has been inconsistent over the past few months, but this month, I slowly started to get back into the swing of things. My favourite post of the month was when I discussed When You Stand Up For Something You Believe In, But It Doesn't Turn Out Right. That discussion was difficult to write, but also I think very needed in terms of my personal reflection on an uncomfortable situation. 

Favourite Blog Posts: 

Vera and Sabrina celebrate their blogiversary by Shouting Out Some of Their Favourite Bloggers 

Cee shares how to Write Your Obvious 

Morgan shares how they've Changed As A Reader 

Life Stuff: 

April was an extremely busy month. I finished up my coursework with final essays, and just this past Tuesday, I had to complete a big presentation of the work I'm doing for my MA. It was extremely daunting and I had some hiccups (for example, when I get nervous, I tend to ramble), however, for the most part, I am extremely proud of myself for overcoming some social anxiety. 

The day this post goes up, I will be going to my first family celebration since COVID started. There's been a lot of milestones since the pandemic, and now we all feel more comfortable in celebrating them. I'm excited to get back to dressing up fancily lol. 

Next month will probably be more busy. I will have to start writing my final paper for my MA, but also, I am attending a conference in Montreal in the middle of May. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous, as meeting new people is not my strong suit, but it'll definitely push me outside of my comfort zone which I'm interpreting to be a good thing. 

So, that was my April! A lot of busyness, with some more busyness to come. How was yours? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Thursday, 21 April 2022

She Gets The Girl by: Alyson Derrick and Rachael Lippincott

 Genre: Young adult fiction, contemporary 

Published: April 5, 2022 by: Simon and Schuster 

Pages: 384 

Rating: 4/5 stars 

CW: homophobia, alcoholism involving a parent. 

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review 

Alex Blackwood is a sassy college freshman who is determined to win back her ex and prove to her that she's ready for commitment. Molly Parker is a quirky, awkward freshman who has a lingering crush on her high-school friend Cora. Alex finds the perfect way to reunite with her ex by helping Molly to match with Cora. While Molly is shy and doesn't know a thing about how to get the girl, Alex is a master at flirting, and she decides to give Molly the ultimate dating course in order for her to use her flirtatiousness for good and hopefully win back her girl in the process. But while Alex and Molly attempt to win over other girls, in reality, their plan is actually moving the two girls closer towards each other. 

I thought this was an adorable, fun read. The best part about this book is that it has an OwnVoices sapphic romance. In fact, the two authors are married, which just adds to the overall fluff of the book. I really enjoyed getting to learn about Alex and Molly's characters and I loved the progression of their romance. I think the authors were able to use the love that they have for each other and relate that to the idea of fluffy first-loves in the book, and it was done really well. 

Firstly, it was refreshing to read a book about college freshmen. Most YA books take place in high school, which is fine, but sometimes gets a bit repetitive. In this book, as the main characters are not only dealing with relationship trouble, but also the idea of transitioning from high school to university, an interesting dynamic is brought up. They're not just trying to find love, but they're also trying to make friends in a new environment and find themselves amidst these new changes. I would love to read more books that take place in college/university. 

I think the opposites attract trope was used very well in this book. Molly is shy and awkward, while Alex is outgoing and sassy, and they played off of each other really well. Both girls learn something from each other, with Molly learning to let go a bit and have fun, and Alex learning when to mellow out. I think Alex's growth in particular was interesting to see, especially since she starts off the book with some obvious faults, but ends the book finding a way to commit to a relationship.

The book also deals with some tougher topics like Alex's mother's alcohol addiction. I thought this storyline was treated well, though since I have never experienced that for myself, I can't really comment on it. However, one thing I will say is that while I felt a lot of closure with Alex's storyline with her mother, I'm not sure if I felt the same with Molly and her family. I think I felt more invested in Alex's story overall, and I would have liked to see more development with Molly's family. I wondered if Molly's personal life felt a bit rushed alongside Alex's. 

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was a really fun, fresh take on the YA genre and I love the idea of couples collaborating on romance books. That detail just seems very sweet. 

Have you read She Gets the Girl? What did you think? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Paperback's Pondering's: When You Stand Up For Something You Believe In, But It Doesn't Turn Out Right

Last weekend, I was in a position where I tried to do something with good intentions, but everything went awry. For the sake of this being in the blogosphere, I'm going to keep most details about the situation vague, but for all intents and purposes, I was having a conversation with someone in my personal life, and they said something offensive. They didn't find anything wrong with what they said, but I immediately reacted defensively. I got angry with them, and shockingly stated: "don't say that word." The person was taken aback, we got into an awkward squabble, and the physical conversation was never really resolved. 

In the following days, we communicated digitally in which they apologized, but also expressed concern with how I went about correcting them. The truth is, during the conversation, I was shocked that I immediately reacted with anger to the person. The word from them just kinda slipped out, but I immediately put them on blast and may have potentially embarrassed them. I apologized for my delivery, they apologized for their offensive statement, and I think (or at least hope) that things will go back to normal. The problem is, that after the situation, I immediately regretted how I spoke to the person. Even though what they said was not nice and needed to be addressed, the shock of what they said just immediately took me aback that the only thing I thought of doing was reacting in anger. The whole situation just reminded me about how while it is important to call out offensive language when you hear it, the delivery is equally important so that everyone understands the level of respect that goes into having a difficult conversation such as these. 

I failed to take into account that this person slipped up and said something offensive, but that their mistake does not make them a horrible person. I didn't think before I considered what would be the best way to tell this person that what they said was not okay, and my response potentially made the situation worse. We ended up arguing about it for some time, and I think both parties were just mentally exhausted afterwards. While we did reconcile, I think the overthinking side of me wanted to ruminate about my delivery and all of the other ways I could have approached the situation. I ended up regretting that I said anything at all. My OCD was telling me that it would have been better to just not say anything and let the person continue thinking that such language is okay, rather than just finding another way to approach the situation. I began considering if I was in the wrong, if this person has every right to feel angry with me because of how I put them on blast. I did do something wrong. I reacted immediately in anger and that was not the most affective way to handle the situation. On the same level, the other person did something wrong in saying something offensive. We both made mistakes, and because we both apologized for them, I am fairly confident that we will be able to move forward, my OCD aside. 

I knew I wanted to chat to the blog about this because this whole conversation just got me thinking about how nobody really prepares you for calling out something offensive, until you actually do it. It could very much be a trial and error process. My first time calling someone out went bad, with the person feeling embarrassed and both of us having to apologize for equal wrongdoing. After the incident, I googled some insight into what I could've done better to handle the situation. Things like bringing up sources, or going to a more secluded area rather than stating it in public, are all helpful tools that I now know for the next time I may be in this situation. While I had every intention of simply telling this person that their language was not okay, it did not turn out right at all. The results were uncomfortable. However, at the same time, I feel like I needed this learning process in order to analyze how I can keep my emotions in check and ensure that the intentions behind my conversations are good. 

This rambling post is all just to say that standing up for something you believe in, like calling out offensive language, is hard. It can be difficult to find the right thing to say in the situation, so folks react in anger like I did. This whole process was a learning curve for me. Just as this person made a mistake, I did too, and a mutual apology was needed in this case. Was it uncomfortable to apologize? Yes, because I think sometimes we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be perfect people who never mess up. I know I do. But, this situation gave me a lot of good practice, and good exposure to the idea that people of all walks of life make mistakes. The apology is the first step, but going forward, everyone needs to make sure that they are doing their part to make the world a more respectful place. 

Have you ever been in a situation in which you tried to do something right, and it all went wrong? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Ariadne by: Jennifer Saint

 Genre: Mythology 

Published: May 4, 2021 by Flatiron Books 

Pages: 320 

Rating: 4/5 stars 

CW: misogyny, sexual assault, blood/gore, war, animal death 

Ariadne is the kind-hearted princess of Crete, and she lives worried of her brother, the Minotaur, a half man/half bull beast who guards the Labyrinth, a magical maze that sacrifices Athenian children. When a prince of Athens, Theseus, comes with a promise to kill the beast, Ariadne is immediately taken with his charisma. She gives him the tools to escape the maze and kill the Minotaur, and she vows to love him for her whole life. However, betraying her family and escaping with a handsome prince has its costs, and Ariadne soon becomes caught up in war between nations, her love of her family, and a prince who she soon learns she cannot trust. 

Despite me being a huge lover of Greek mythology, Ariadne is one of those stories that I haven't always paid much attention to. I usually stick to stories of the Trojan war. But of course, I am willing to give any Greek mythology retelling a try, and I figured this book might be similar to that of Madeline Miller's Circe. I can definitely say that this book delivered on providing a well-rounded portrayal of the famous myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, though with a special focus on Ariadne. I appreciated Saint's attention to detail and the development of the myth as a whole. 

More authors are beginning to play with writing mythological retellings from a woman's point of view. Figures like Circe, Ariadne, and Helen of Troy are famous mythological figures, though they often get a bad reputation from the male writers who have dominated in telling their stories. There is something about women writers taking back these female figures that I find particularly compelling, and Saint's portrayal of Ariadne was no exception. I got to learn more about what immediately drew her to Theseus, and how his charm captivated her to the point where she could think of no better escape than to leave with him. While this book does rely heavily on the insta-love trope, I didn't mind, because the trope is so common to these myths and since the book is from Ariadne's point of view, I got to see how manipulation from Theseus and the overall isolation she endures prompted her to fall in love with him in the first place. Yes, she falls quickly. But, the poor treatment she receives from her father and her being trapped in a constant cycle of sacrifice motivates her to go for the first chance at escape. This escape just happened to be Theseus. 

I loved getting to learn a bit more about Ariadne's relationship with the Minotaur. Like I said, the myth of the Minotaur is not one that I am super familiar with, so I got to learn a lot through this book. Mainly, I found it fascinating how despite Ariadne contributing to the sacrifice of Athenians, she still finds it in her heart to love her brother. She sees the Minotaur as being a damaged boy, who was cursed through no fault of his own. I loved the idea of Ariadne still loving her brother for who he is, despite the things he cannot control. Saint makes it clear that the Minotaur at his core is a damaged individual, who is controlled by Minos and banished to a constant cycle of abuse from the gods. I think the duality of his character was shown really well through Ariadne's relationship with him. The Minotaur's story is sad, it is not a story of a triumphant hero slaying a monster. Saint made this distinction clear. 

I was really captivated with the book until about three quarters of the way through, when I felt my attention wavering a bit. Without giving too much away, after Ariadne sees her chance of escape with Theseus, there is a lot of action, but then some falling action. There were times in which I felt Ariadne's character was stuck, and Saint wasn't really doing much with her character. The ending was ok, but not entirely satisfying like I get with other mythological retellings. I was captivated for most of the book, but after the main turning point happened, I just wondered where the author could take the character from here, and I'm not sure I was truly enthralled. 

Overall, I thought Ariadne was a great addition to the world of Greek mythology retellings, specifically retellings from the woman's perspective. Saint does a great job at capturing the misogyny of some of myth's most famous heroes, and the troubles that put so many women figures into the unfortunate positions that they are most famous for. I now have a newfound appreciation for Ariadne, and I would love to read more of her story. 

Have you read Ariadne? What did you think? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess