Friday, 30 December 2022

Month in Review: December

Happy New Year everyone! My year in review will be out in a few weeks, but for now, let's recap December: 

What I Read: 

Under the Whispering Door by: T.J. Klune: 4/5 stars 

A Minor Chorus by: Billy-Ray Belcourt: 4/5 stars 

Moon of the Crusted Snow by: Waubgeshig Rice: 4/5 stars 

mit√™w√Ęcimowina: Indigenous Science Fiction and Speculative Storytelling edited by: Neal McLeod: 4/5 stars 

Favourite book: This month, every book had the same rating! So, how did I choose a favourite? I went with Moon of the Crusted Snow, because that book could have easily been a five star read if not for the ending. A review will be soon to come. It was a great apocalyptic book by an Indigenous author, but ugh, I just wish the ending had some finishing touches. 

What I Blogged: 

I posted a list of Books I Have My Eye On To Buy in the New Year. This was a fun list to write as it includes some picks that have been on my wishlist for a while, and some new releases I am excited about. 

Favourite Posts of the Month: 

Sofia reads Other People's Favourite Books 

Roberta Returns to Blogging 

I noticed that my blogging reading list has become a little thin since people are taking hiatuses, and some have left the blogging world. So, this is an appeal. If you have a bookish blog recommendation, please send them my way! 

Life Stuff: 

Christmas was good, albeit the weather was kinda stressful. We got slammed with a snowstorm on December 23rd, and we weren't sure if we were going to be able to make it back home to spend time with family at all. Luckily the roads cleared just enough for us to make it home by Christmas Eve, and we had a lovely time. 

I was really happy seeing my family open up the presents I gave them, and overall everyone (including myself) were very grateful for the gifts received. Now I am preparing for the New Year, in which I return to being a teaching assistant for my university. I'm excited for the new position, which will be a welcome distraction from working on PhD applications. New Year, New Changes! That's for certain. 

So, that was my December! How was yours? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Monday, 26 December 2022

Books I Have My Eye On To Buy in the New Year!

Every Christmas I usually get a few Chapters gift cards that I use to do a book buying spree. (By spree I mean two or three books, which is a lot for me since I don't typically buy books). Anyways, my criteria for books I buy depends on the cover is nice or if the author is one I like to support. Sometimes, I will prioritize new, hyped releases as well. I thought it might be fun to list some books I've been thinking of buying during my annual shop, to see if other folks deem these books worthy of purchasing. 

1. Babel, Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators' Revolution by: R.F. Kuang 

I've seen this book hyped on pretty much every social media platform. I know of Kuang through her Poppy War series, which to be honest, I haven't read only because I am very picky with fantasies. However, I do think this book with its commentary on racism and colonization sounds super interesting, and so many people have been raving about it. I'm not opposed to picking it up, but a book of this length is definitely outside of my comfort zone. 

Goodreads Link

2. The Sunbearer Trials by: Aiden Thomas 

This is a book I am fairly confident I'll love. It's the first book in a Hunger Games-inspired series by well-loved author Aiden Thomas, an author who is an auto-buy writer for me. I am definitely leaning towards picking this book up in the near future. 

Goodreads Link 

3. Icebreaker by: Hannah Grace 

This is a hockey/figure skating romance that comes out in February. I am a big fan of sports romances, especially hockey, but only when the relationships are not toxic or problematic. This book sounds so sweet and the fact that the MC is a figure skater makes it even more fun! I love figure skating as a sport too so this book seems like a perfect match. 

Goodreads Link 

4. Porcupines and China Dolls by: Robert Arthur Alexie 

I read a lot of Indigenous literature thanks to my degree, but I have yet to get to this book that I know has received very positive reviews. It involves two Indigenous men coming to terms with adulthood while also dealing with the traumatic aftermath of being in the residential school system. I haven't been able to find this book at the library and I am always up for supporting an Indigenous author. 

Goodreads Link 

5. The Midnight Library by: Matt Haig 

Another fantasy book that will be a gamble if I buy, but that I am still intrigued by. I read The Comfort Book by Matt Haig about a month ago and thought it was such a sweet, wholesome read. I know Haig is very open about mental illness and something about that makes me want to support him. I have heard positive reviews about this book and the cover looks lovely, but I'm just iffy if it will be for me. 

Goodreads Link 

6. I'm Glad My Mom Died by: Jennette McCurdy 

The title of this book is jarring, but I think you really need to read it to understand why it is. I know little about McCurdy's life but she was an integral part of my childhood, and I am a big fan of memoirs. I'm very interested in this book and think it would definitely be a quick read. 

Goodreads Link 

This is a very small list of some books on my radar to buy once 2023 rolls around, but I am definitely open to more suggestions! Have you read any of these books, and are they worth the physical copies? Are there any other books worth buying? Let me know! 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Wednesday, 14 December 2022

TJ Powar Has Something to Prove by: Jesmeen Kaur Deo

Genre: Young adult fiction, contemporary 

Published: June 7, 2022 by Viking Books 

Pages: 368 

Rating: 3/5 stars 

CW: bullying 

TJ Powar has it all: a cute boyfriend, good grades, and a spot on her school's award-winning debate team. However, her life changes when her cousin becomes the subject of a cyber bullying rampage targeting her body hair. TJ decides that she needs to make a point. So, she ditches her razors and cancels her waxing appointments and works to show her school that girls can have body hair and still be beautiful. As TJ begins her campaign, her confidence flourishes even when people she thought were her friends turn away. But, she also learns along the way not to push against those who truly do find her beautiful no matter what she looks like. 

As a girl with naturally a lot of dark body hair, I was intrigued by this book. I wax and shave regularly, but I do always admire people who relay the message that body hair is normal, especially for women. I loved the cover of this book, because I think its really powerful to show a girl with visible facial hair on a mainstream book cover. Not to mention that the book is also Own Voices for Sikh/South Asian representation. While I did have some issues with the presentation of some themes, I do think that this is a solid story. 

What sparks TJ to take a stand for body hair is when her cousin who doesn't shave is bullied on social media for the way that she looks. While the hate doesn't really bother TJ's cousin, who more brushes it off, TJ finds the need to defend her family and the whole situation encourages her to take a look at all of the effort she puts into making sure that she is hairless for her boyfriend and her friends. I really liked how TJ is inspired to stand by her cousin and how this was a major driving point for the action, because I could really see where TJ's loyalties lied and how she was willing to compromise friends and romantic relationships for her cousin. At its core, the strongest relationships in this book were the family ties and this was great to see. 

I also loved the debating element to the book. TJ is on the debate team and even takes it upon herself to inspire debate topics surrounding body hair. I could definitely see how Kaur Deo characterized TJ as a debate team member, as she is strong-willed, confident, and incredibly intelligent. She takes on the body hair as an experiment at first, to see how people would react. But it slowly turns into a movement and she works with her talent of debating to show others the problems with beauty standards for women. 

In the book, Kaur Deo takes great care to also show how body hair influences the wider South Asian community. Despite TJ being Sikh, which is a religion that often encourages not shaving and embracing body hair; the women in her family, including her mother, are very concerned when TJ stops shaving and they try to get her to schedule waxing appointments and take up hair removal again. I think Kaur Deo did a great job at showing how Euro-centric beauty standards influence even the older generations of marginalized groups, to the point where older women often are more concerned about beauty standards than younger women. It seemed that TJ's family really were negatively influenced by unhealthy ideas of beauty that they projected such things onto her, which was sad to see, but also a real reality for a lot of South Asian families. TJ eventually does show them that embracing her body hair is what makes her feel the most confident, and this transformation in her family was great to see. 

The main issue that I had with this book that made it just an okay read for me, was that I wished the book took a greater look at how completely quitting hair removal cold-turkey is incredibly hard for a lot of people. TJ was able to just drop her razors like that, and quickly realized she didn't want to turn back. However, struggling with insecurities about body hair isn't always this simple. For example, I mentioned before that I still remove my body hair, and I don't know if I'll ever get to the point where I feel comfortable going out in public with unshaved legs or a dark upper lip. I think the book could've taken a greater care at looking at the systemic issues at play here, such as the equation with body hair being seen as unhygienic, and how body hair is portrayed in the media and commercials. Similarly, I wished that TJ was able to talk to girls who still remove their body hair, to see why they still chose to do it and how standards affected them. I just think I couldn't entirely relate to TJ's journey being so easy, and I wanted there to be a greater focus on the difficulties of this switch. 

Overall, I think this is an important read that can help a lot of girls see the beauty in body hair. While I think I needed some more representation on the difficult reality of moving towards a more natural self, I do think that this book is definitely important. 

Have you read TJ Powar Has Something to Prove? What did you think? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Friday, 9 December 2022

Month in Review: November

I'm back from vacation, I'm ready for Christmas, and 2023 is just around the corner! Here's what I got up to in November: 

What I Read: 

The Comfort Book by: Matt Haig: 5/5 stars 

Adult Onset by: Ann-Marie MacDonald: 3/5 stars 

When The Reckoning Comes by: LaTanya McQueen: 5/5 stars 

The Weight of Blood by: Tiffany D. Jackson: 4/5 stars 

The Love Hypothesis by: Ali Hazelwood: 4/5 stars 

Five Little Indians by: Michelle Good: 3/5 stars 

Favourite book: The Comfort Book by: Matt Haig was exactly what I needed this month. This book lives up to its title. It's a comforting book about how to handle stressors and practice good mental health. It was also my first Matt Haig book and didn't disappoint. I know Haig suffers from anxiety and panic attacks and I think he just gets it right when it comes to how to practice healthy coping mechanisms. 

What I Blogged: 

I took a teensie break from blogging while I was away, but still managed to post a mixture of discussions and reviews. My favourite post of the month was my review on Scarborough by: Catherine Hernandez. I've been wanting to review this fabulous book for a while, and getting to talk a little bit more about a neighbourhood close to my family was quite enjoyable. I found this review very easy to write. 

Favourite Blog Posts of the Month: 

Cee asks: Why Do You Hate Me? 

Marie shares 8 Unforgettable Books I've Read in 8 Years of Blogging 

Greg features Post-Apocalyptic Covers 

Life Stuff: 

November was busy, semi-stressful, and full of fun. Near the beginning of the month my sister moved to Ottawa, which has been an adjustment as I get used to just being alone with my parents for the first time ever. But, we reunited near the end of the month to go to Italy for a week with my dad. The Italy trip was very fun, but very not so fun on my anxiety. This was my first time travelling since having panic disorder and really bad OCD, and my intrusive thoughts and panic ramped up from the time we landed until about halfway through the trip. But, I was able to find the fun in a lot of moments throughout the week, and I am proud of myself for not completing freaking out and sending myself home. I will definitely have to work on what went wrong in therapy, so hopefully trips in the future can go a bit more smoothly. 

In December, I hope to ward off the plethora of illnesses that have been going around (hello flu season!) and hopefully have a fun Christmas. I have a few parties to go to and gatherings that I'm excited for, so it will surely be an eventful month as well. 

That was my November. How was yours? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess