Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Month in Review: August

I'm oddly excited for Fall. I'm really looking forward to watching spooky movies, going apple picking, and baking fall treats. September might even involve some exciting changes, if all goes well. Here's what happened in August: 

What I Read: 

You Made A Fool of Death With Your Beauty by: Akwaeke Emezi: 4/5 stars 

Queenie by: Candice Carty-Williams: 5/5 stars 

Four for the Road by: K.J. Reilly: 4/5 stars 

The Umbrella Academy Volumes 1 & 2 by: Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá: 4/5 stars 

TJ Powar has Something to Prove by: Jesmeen Kaur Deo: 3/5 stars 

Favourite Book of the Month: Queenie by: Candice Carty-Williams surprised me. I didn't really know what to expect going into the book, and while there were some funny moments, I really ultimately felt for Queenie and the struggle she goes through. This was a tough read to get through, but was a great look at the experiences of a young Jamaican woman in London. 

What I Blogged: 

I got the opportunity to receive an ARC from Simon and Schuster of Four for the Road by: K.J. Reilly. It was a great YA book that explores grief, and I'd love for y'all to check out the review. 

Favourite Blog Posts: 

Cee thinks Way Too Much About Poetic POV's 

Sofia shares 80 Book Recommendations for Latinx Book Bingo 

Marie shares 10 YA Books with a Summer Romance You'll Fall Far 

Life Stuff: 

August was really fun. I started off the month by heading to Pennsylvania for a family vacation, and then went to the Harry Styles concert in the middle of August, which was fab. He puts on a great show! 

At the end of the month, I splurged and bought myself a ticket to Fanexpo, the biggest fan convention in Toronto. I got to meet Joe Quinn from Stranger Things and Levar Burton, both of which I seriously fangirled over. I also got to see some cool cosplays and bought some Buffy merch. Overall, it was a tiring day, but so worth it! 

Now that I'm done school, I've been really committing myself to job searching. I'd love to get a writing or editing position to continue the work I do with my blog, so we'll see what happens. It only takes one person to show interest sometimes, and I'm hoping that will happen soon! 

So, August was full of exciting events, and September will be full of going back to a routine and preparing for the future. 

How was your August? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Monday, 22 August 2022

ARC Review: Four for the Road by: K.J. Reilly

 Genre: young adult fiction, contemporary 

Published: August 23, 2022 by: Atheneum Books 

Pages: 288 

Rating: 4/5 stars 

CW: grief, drunk driving, death of a parent, death of a spouse, nightmares, alcoholism 

*Thank you to the publisher for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review 

After his mother is killed by a drunk driver, Asher is seeking revenge on the man who killed her. He invites three members of his grief support group to accompany him on a road trip to Graceland, Tennessee, but he doesn't share with them that he is going to Tennessee with every intention to kill his mother's murderer. The three road-trippers include Sloane, a teen who lost her father to cancer, Will, who lost is brother, and Henry, the oldest member of the group at eighty years old, who is reeling from the loss of his wife. Together, this group of opposites embark on a physical and emotional journey that allows them to learn more about what connects them and how they can channel their grief into healing.

I wouldn't say that I read a lot of books about grief, so I didn't really know what to expect from reading this book. I have lost people before, but grief is such a complicated thing and everyone deals with it quite differently. I thought the author did something really unique by setting up the book around members of a grief support group, as I often forget that these types of groups exist and can be very helpful (but sometimes even hindering) for some people. I think that this book provided a great look at how different people decide to cope with their grief in either healing or self-destructive ways, and how healing is not about overcoming grief but rather learning to live with it. While some of the topics in this book are hard to get through, I ultimately thought that the author dealt with the subject matter in a sensitive way. 

The book is mostly told from the perspective of Asher, a teen who vows to avenge his mother's death. While at first glance, Asher may appear as an impulsive and destructive kid, I think readers should remember that he is still a teen and therefore is not always going to think before he acts, especially when dealing with the loss of a parent. Asher has shielded away some memories about the circumstances surrounding his mother's death, and the book slowly deals with him accepting those memories and moving forward. However, moving forward is an extremely difficult process for him. I really felt for Asher, especially considering how common it sadly is for children to lose their parents to drunk driving (or vice versa). I appreciated Asher's transformation throughout the book and enjoyed reading from his perspective. 

I liked how the author provided a range of age groups in the core four members of the road trip. For example, Henry's perspective on grief is entirely different from Asher's, especially considering his wife died through doctor-assisted suicide. I think Henry was a brilliantly complex character with a lot of wisdom to offer, and I loved reading about him and how he interacted with the other characters. Sloane and Will were also well-developed supporting characters, and each character overall provided something diverse to the book. 

I really do enjoy road trip narratives, so that detail of the book was great for me. I liked how the book didn't just deal with the characters in their support group, but rather set up the rising action with them in the group, and then provided enough road trip content to keep the journey interesting. This book is also not always sad, and has a good mixture of comic relief mixed with serious moments. 

The one thing I would say this book could have done better is enough context between the climax and falling action. The whole road trip revolves around Asher getting to the home of the man who killed his mother. But, once that happens, I found the book a bit rushed as it attempted to resolve all of the major issues. I didn't find myself particularly wowed by the climax and the events that followed, and I thought that more information to wrap things up towards the end of the book could have been useful. 

Overall, I liked this read! It provided me with some of the tropes I like, such as road trips, but also helped me to learn a bit more about how different people experience grief. I would recommend this book for those who want to learn the same. 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

Lore Olympus: Volume One by: Rachel Smythe

 Genre: graphic novel, mythology 

Published: November 2nd, 2021 by: Del Rey 

Pages: 384 

Rating: 5/5 stars 

CW: domestic abuse, sexual assault, drugging, alcoholism, addiction, misogyny 

This post will discuss sexual assault and incest 

Rachel Smythe retells the famed story of Hades and Persephone while using a modern backdrop and contemporary artwork. After dark, the Greek gods go to lavish parties to drink, hook up, and engage in the latest gossip. Currently, the centre of this gossip is Persephone, the bubbly daughter of Demeter, and Hades, the broody god of the Underworld. Hades and Persephone strike up a romance despite their differences.  But interference from other gods and battling their own demons will prove to be troubling to their relationship. 

I will always give a Greek mythology retelling a try. I was particularly intrigued by Lore Olympus because of its graphic novel format. I've gotten really into graphic novels and comics as of late, so I knew that this format could really work. I went into Lore Olympus not knowing much about the style of writing and the artwork, but I was extremely impressed by Smythe's ability to integrate modern themes within well-known stories of myth. 

You might've remembered my post from a while back where I discussed how I often forget to pay attention to the artwork of comics and graphic novels. Well, I think I may have finally found my exception. The artwork of this graphic novel is just so unique, that I found myself captivated by it. Smythe uses colour in such an interesting way, with each colour representing a god and their specific personality traits. Persephone's bubbly attitude is represented in pink, while Hades' emotional side is painted in blues and dark purples. The colours that Smythe uses accurately describe each character and portray them exactly how I would imagined their personality traits to be. Overall, the artwork was a huge selling point to the novel. 

Lore Olympus definitely deals with some heavy themes, that are both taken from the original myths and also applied to a modern audience. For example, sexual assault is so prevalent in myth, and Smythe uses this heavy topic to raise awareness on rape culture, drugging, and misogyny. These themes are definitely dealt with explicitly, so do be aware of content warnings. But, I think Smythe's attention to referencing the problematic handling of these topics within the original myths was a huge plus.

I loved the representation of Hades' and Persephone's relationship, but the book isn't only just about them. I was pleasantly surprised by how Smythe was able to handle sub-plots within the graphic novel, by giving us an inside look into the lives of other gods such as Aphrodite and Artemis. These sub-plots do not detract from the original story, rather they give readers the opportunity to learn more about the extensive cast of characters and how their personalities influence the couple at the centre of the story. 

Hades' and Persephone's story in the original myth is complicated. It is tainted with incest, sexual assault, and abduction. I was worried that Smythe would gloss over these issues and instead glamourize what is originally a problematic relationship. However, Smythe changes things around from the original myth to give us a pretty healthy relationship. Well, as healthy as can be given the setting. Smythe does not make the couple related to each other, and also changes Hades' character arc so that he is a lot less toxic than the original figure of Hades. The result is a pretty well-crafted sunshine and storm cloud relationship with enough drama from the supporting cast to still indicate how this relationship is affected by mythological themes of misogyny and jealousy. I applaud Smythe for paying attention to these problematic details from the original myth and taking action. 

Overall, I loved this graphic novel! I know the original story was released as a web-comic, and I'd love to explore it alongside the countless other volumes that Smythe has about this story. In the world of Greek mythology retellings, this was definitely a win. 

Have you read Lore Olympus? What did you think? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess