Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi Review

          This review contains minor spoilers! If you haven’t read the book I suggest reading it and coming back to this blog post later.

          Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi is that book that every Instagrammer has on their feed, almost like Milk and Honey and other IG poetry. Of course, that’s why I picked it up and why I was interested, plus the cover is super pretty so on an evening out with friends I picked up this book and it sat on my shelves for half a year before I read the entire book in one day. Let’s just say I enjoyed it enough to power through 390 pages – but that’s something usual for me.

          Emergency Contact is the story of Penny and Sam and how they became each other’s emergency contacts. Of course, it wouldn’t be a young adult novel without the parental issues, the insecurities and the coming of age plot but the reality behind these characters is what made the book for me. I enjoyed Penny’s self-introspection and the fact that she didn’t change to make Sam like her and I enjoyed Sam’s characterisation. We got to see inside the brain of the broody male protagonist and came to understand that he’s not broody for the hell of it.

          I also enjoyed that the resolution was realistic and didn’t tie all loose ends – real life is not that clean-cut and looking at the way Mary H.K. Choi narrates her story I think her aim was to portray these characters as realistically as possible, which in my opinion she achieved from the beginning.

          One thing I didn’t like was how the two protagonists took centre stage all the time. We have Penny’s mum and Sam’s niece and a couple of other useless characters peppered here and there but we don’t really get to know them. Sure, we know Penny’s mum is *ahem* young at heart and we know Sam’s niece is hyperactive and needy but we don’t get to form bonds with them so when Penny argues or neglects her mum I don’t really care about it?

          I feel like I could have given this book five out of five stars if it wasn’t such a quick and easy read. It’s 390 pages but it felt like 100 at best – although it was realistic and the protagonists were well written, the plot wasn’t. It dragged on at times and was redundant at others which put me off reading it at first.

          Overall I would say I enjoyed Emergency Contact and I am looking forward to Mary H.K. Choi’s future releases! Did you read the book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments and I’ll catch you next time!

 

         With love,

         Sonny xx

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(GIFs ARE NOT MINE, CREDIT GOES TO WHOEVER MADE THEM) 

Using YouTube for Escapism + 3 Favourite Youtubers

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          Like many other people, I too, am obsessed with YouTube. It started sometime in 2011, this obsession of mine and changed slightly over the years. I am the kind of person who is so awfully aware of everything I do and why I do it so I realized that the reason why I started watching YouTube back in 2011 was because it was so new and interesting, the connection between creator and viewer seemed personal. Then every YouTuber and their mother started putting out merch, they started doing weird tags and challenges and there was no creativity on YouTube anymore. Of course, I don’t really mind or care that these YouTubers turned their channels into businesses, everybody has to make money, but personally, I am not a big fan of tag videos or the Q&A format. But the more I watched YouTube the more I grew accustomed to this content and started watching it mindlessly. Watching the same content over and over made it easy for my brain to switch off and use YouTube as a form of escapism. It was no longer relatable, just a way for me to stop thinking for a damn minute.

          Again, I am a very painfully aware person. I know I use media as a form of escapism and that it really doesn’t do much good for my mental health, but that’s the fun part of being a teenager/young adult, I grew up mindlessly watching content I didn’t care for without realizing that this is a habit that will be so hard to kick. I started being interested in the idea of self-improvement back in college. I was having a hard time focusing and being generally happy and I just wanted to feel good about myself for once so of course, I went to YouTube. I looked up basic words like self-care and self-improvement and I spent hours, days and weeks just mindlessly watching these videos. They were different from what I was used to, British YouTubers doing absolutely nothing but showing off. These videos were inspirational and made me want to become better, but as I said earlier, using YouTube as a form of escapism is a habit that’s very hard to kick. I had to actively think about my reasons for watching these inspirational videos and motivate myself to get up and put them into practice.

          I’m not going to lie and say I completely changed. I didn’t, I still watched YouTube mindlessly (I binge watched Dan and Phil’s Undertale series at least 10 times, not to mention all the Sims 4 let’s plays I’m still obsessed with) and I will probably always do that to some extent. But at the same time, I learnt to take a step back and spend some time in the present. I started following YouTubers whos content matched my goals and slowly started changing my routines, habits and outlook for the better.

          Without further ado, these are my three (current) favourite YouTubers. I will link all their channels at the end of this post.

Kalyn Nicholson

          Kalyn was one of the first lifestyle YouTubers I followed back in college and I can safely say that she honestly changed my life for the better. At first, I watched her content because I was desperate for a change but slowly came to love her personality and her outlook on life. She began changing her content last year and now makes videos on spirituality, being happy yet she still makes those lifestyle videos I originally fell in love with. She makes videos like ‘coffee talks’ (as videos and podcasts) which are basically advice videos, rosé rambles where she talks honestly about her life, GYST videos which are basically videos of her getting her sh*t together and so many more. She makes me want to travel and allow myself to be in touch with my spirituality. 

          Content: Lifestyle, spirituality, personal development

Rowena Tsai

          I started watching Rowena sometime last year when I was going through a slump. As I do, I found one of her videos in my recommended section and I completely fell in love with her message. She’s not militant, in fact, I like how she’s not afraid of her own slumps yet she always gets back up. Rowena is that person who’s videos I can watch and they instantly make me feel less shitty about myself. Plus her voice is very calming.

          Content: Self-care, personal development, life advice

Madeleine Olivia

          Madeleine’s videos are my latest obsession. I started watching her two months ago when I went fully vegan and I haven’t stopped since. Madeleine’s videos focus on veganism made easy, minimalism, self-care and living an ethical life. Basically all the things I aspire to be good at. She helped me a lot in feeling more comfortable as a vegan, I don’t cook very well but she made everything so easy. I have also started watching her minimalism series and while I really like the idea, I am also a bit of a maximalist (is that even a thing?)

          Content: Veganism, Minimalism, Ethical Living

          So here it is, an explanation of how I used YouTube and social media as a form of escapism and how I’m working on changing that as well as my top three favourite YouTubers. Feel free to let know who your favourite YouTubers are and make sure to check out my last blog post which is a list of my seven favourites Monsta X songs. Thanks for reading and have a lovely day!

          With love,

          Sonny xx

 

Kalyn Nicholson’s Channel

Rowena Tsai’s Channel

Madeleine Olivia’s Channel

 

 

Worst TV/Literature Tropes

trope (n)

1 A figurative or metaphorical use of a word or expression.

‘both clothes and illness became tropes for new attitudes toward the self’
‘my sense that philosophy has become barren is a recurrent trope of modern philosophy’
‘perhaps it is a mistake to use tropes and parallels in this eminently unpoetic age’
1.1 A significant or recurrent theme; a motif.
‘she uses the Eucharist as a pictorial trope’ Source

As we have already established, I am a big book person. I love books, I love reading and I love ingesting stories. It’s a form of escapism for me. I feel the same way about TV shows – I get to know unique characters that I can relate to or learn from, I get to understand someone else’s mind and how they work as a person through the way they wrote the book/script for the TV show. I just love it.

What I don’t love, is when that source of escapism is tainted by bad tropes. It ruins everything, the stories, the characters and the entire universe that has been built. I think that’s definitely one of the reasons why I’m so picky with the way I consume any type of media. I’m selective about the books I read, I never liked those cheesy romance novels, about the shows I watch (I don’t like Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones) and I even do that with anime! I’m so particular about the things I don’t like because it helps me pick and choose what to spend my time on (and my energy, let’s be honest).

The first trope I hate is the best friends turned lovers trope. I hate how unrealistic it is, how it doesn’t let our main girl, because let’s be honest, it’s usually the girl who ends up crawling back to her childhood best friend, grow into the person she can be. I believe this trope is a comfortable way for an author to write a novel which a lot of people will enjoy. It’s all about comfort, about being secure and not stepping out of the comfort zone. People find it easier to digest a story about a girl who’s infatuated with two boys but in the end chooses the childhood best friend because it’s easy. She doesn’t have to get to know this new guy, she doesn’t have to see if it’s going to work or not because it’s safer to go with the comfortable choice, even though that choice might not be a good one. Urgh, this trope pisses me off so much that I could write an entire essay about it.

The second trope that I hate is diversity for the sake of diversity. We are in 2018, we live in a *mostly* diverse world, in a global world, but some authors still choose to stick to one type of character (the white cis heterosexual male/female). When they do choose to write diverse characters, they don’t write them because these characters are just that, humans experiencing the contents of the plot, but because that’s what’s expected in 2018. I really dislike this because even though it is 2018, a lot of people still can’t relate to the characters they read about/watch on screen. Everyone wants to feel represented, to feel heard, to not feel invisible. And so when so many books and TV shows attempt to be diverse, it almost always comes across as disingenuous. These diverse characters never get a normal plot of their own, their stories almost always revolve around their diversity. The LGBTQ+ character’s story is almost always about their struggle as an LGBTQ+ character, they’re rarely just people with a different sexual preference. This trope is so disappointing, even though we are making a lot of good progress, it’s really not enough.

The third trope I hate is the 1000-year-old monster dating a 17-year-old girl. I have to preface this by saying that I have read these types of books and I have watched TV shows that revolve around this trope (Twilight, Vampire Diaries) and came to find this trope creepy. I understand why it’s the way it is. People are dreamers, they want the impossible, they want to feel unique and adventurous and what’s more adventurous than vampires and beasts and zombies? The part that I don’t understand is, why do they have to be so damn old? How is it normal for a 200-year-old vampire to pursue a high school girl? Would people be alright with this trope if the love interest wasn’t a vampire and was just a plain old guy? Of course they wouldn’t because it’s gross! Just because the 200-year-old vampire looks like a 25-year-old student, it doesn’t make the situation better – it makes it worse.

Lastly, I hate the plain-jane trope. Writing characters for the sake of relatability is such an overused trope, especially in YA, that I can’t even begin to describe how much I hate it. It doesn’t necessarily stop me from reading the novel because when it happens I tend to focus on the story rather than the character, but at the same time, I believe that a story is incomplete without a good, well-rounded character. Women are always written either as the blonde bimbo who sleeps around a lot, the geeky girl or simply, with no personality because it allows people to insert themselves into the story. If the author writes a story where the main character is very detailed and real, people who haven’t found themselves yet cannot relate therefore the book doesn’t sell. It’s as simple as that. The male characters don’t get it any easier though. It’s always the nice guy who’s not really nice, the geeky guy who can’t get the hot girl and when he does he doesn’t change at all (but when the geeky girl gets the popular guy she has to change completely) or the mindless hunk who can get any girl but somehow falls in love with the geeky girl.

While I don’t like these tropes (and many others, I might make a second post), it doesn’t mean you can’t like them. Everyone views the world differently and everyone is allowed to have their own opinion, their own likes and dislikes and I respect that!

I hope you enjoyed this long, ranty blog post. Feel free to tell me all about the tropes you hate or love. Thanks for reading and make sure to read my last blog post which is a list of my favourite BTS songs.

With love,

Sonny xx

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(GIFS ARE NOT MINE, CREDIT GOES TO THEIR CREATOR)

Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – Book Review

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          Given that I have finally started my own bookstagram (Instagram for books), I decided it would be awesome to keep some sort of a diary with all my bookish thoughts. Goodreads could suffice, of course, but I’m not really fond of leaving reviews on Goodreads so here I am, with the first of the many book reviews to come. I will try my best to post a review for every book I read, but I am sure that more often than not life will get in the way so I’m not making promises that I cannot keep (much like my monthly TBRs).

          The first book I am going to discuss is the first book in the Raven Cycle series; Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. I have tried reading Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater before and it just didn’t work out for me so I was a little apprehensive when all the big booktubers (youtube for books) started raving about this series. After a while, I bought the book and after even more time I decided to read it. (One of the) best decision of my life! This book was not necessarily a roller coaster nor did it make me fall in love with our leading lady but here is why I enjoyed it so much:

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          “There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

          It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

          Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

          His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

          But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

          For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.” (Goodreads)

 

Themes

          I really enjoyed all the themes portrayed in this first book and I think they were done really well but I will only focus on my favourite three. The first one is the supernatural/witch elements of this novel. I am all about magic, crystals, tarot reading and psychics myself which in turn made me love this aspect of the book. I thought it was done beautifully – the psychics in this book didn’t have all the answers all the time and they weren’t all-powerful witches that had no flaws. I also like the fact that our main character is not as gifted as the rest of her family – it’s a step forward from the perfect protagonist we see in a lot of literature.

          I also like the way domestic/child abuse was represented in this novel in a respectful and realistic way. Maggie Stiefvater didn’t make Adam the hero that saved himself and his family nor did she make him come across as a character that can’t move forward – instead, she wrote him somewhere in the middle which I think is very realistic. I like the fact that he’s flawed too and the way he handles the abuse is not conventional or how people expect abuse victims to handle their traumas.

          The last theme I enjoyed was the portrayal of wealth or lack of it, to be exact. I love that none of the characters are stuck in their own little bubble. Instead we have characters like Adam who is insecure about his lack of wealth to the point where it affects his thinking and behaviour, we have Blue who is slightly bitter about her financial upbringing but is proud of herself nonetheless, Gansey who doesn’t want to be like his father but ultimately is, Ronan who really doesn’t care much and Mr Whelk who is obsessed with wealth. I think the variety of opinions on wealth and the way each character handles this subject really made this book a good read for me.

Reception

          I mentioned reception a bit earlier in the post but I will expand more on it here. I am the kind of person who doesn’t like hype – books/tv shows/bands that are too hyped put me off. I’m not entirely sure why maybe because I don’t want to be disappointed but that’s just how I am. I am, however, trying to change that. I tried reading Fifty Shades of Grey after being put off by the hype and I still hated it, but hey, I’m trying. With Raven Boys, everyone and their mother was hyping this book up and I just lost interest in trying it out. After a while, I was walking through Foyles, saw this book and picked it up. It then took me another year or so to actually read it. Moral of the story? Don’t let yourself miss out on things because they are too hyped! Make your own opinion!

Point of View

          This is something that put me off the book at first. Personally, I enjoy writing in third person omniscient while mostly focusing on one character. This book does a similar thing but instead of sticking to the same point of view throughout, it switches POV every chapter. This would normally be fine, only the names (Gansey, for example) confused me so much at the beginning that I had a hard time reading it. After learning the characters and their weird names and the action started picking up the pace it became easier to enjoy this point of view.

Imagery

          This is a very important aspect of reading for me. One of the reasons why I absolutely adore reading and even chose to study literature at university is because I like the imagery behind the words. Raven Boys really didn’t disappoint when it came to imagery! The descriptions weren’t overwhelming but were still very expressive and easy to visualise. This, in turn, made the action scenes truly breathtaking and deliciously overwhelming.

Star Rating out of 5: ★★★★☆

 

          So here it is, my first book review on this blog – how exciting! I just want to put this out there that these are purely my opinions and everyone is entitled to their own opinion! Thanks a lot for reading and make sure to check out my new bookstagram (@marbled_reads on IG) as well as my last blog post which is all about Hufflepuff study tips!

With love,

Sonny xx

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