Cover Wars: 2013 Roundup

Cover Wars is a TSC feature all about showcasing beautiful covers. It started on my old blog, Tantalizing Illusions, and followed its way to The Sirenic Codex. Mari has been mostly running it this year, although we've been suggesting covers together.

One of the most fun parts about Cover Wars is the yearly roundup. This is where we get to see the truly fabulous covers; the ones that won the most battles. And, here we crown the Cover of the Year, the cover that won the most for the longest.

Here's a visual representation of your runner ups! Each of these covers won at least once. Undertow and Cruel Beauty won 3 times and are in a tie for second place. 


First place though, for the cover that just keeps on winning, is...


Here's the official tally if you're curious. Please ignore the wins for Love Letters to the Dead, I think it has seven by now.


It was a great year for Cover Wars with many beautiful covers. 2014 will be even better! We started our blog in June so next year's roundup should be much longer. Which were some of your favourite covers? 


-P.E.


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Review: Steel Lily

Author: Megan Curd
Date of Publication: August 12 2013
Pages: 315
Source: Review copy- thank you!

AVERY PIKE is a commodity. No, more than a commodity. Her existence is guarded at all costs.

She’s a water Elementalist, the strongest of her dwindling kind. She creates steam to provide energy to fuel Dome Four: the only thing standing between humanity and an earth ravaged by World War III. No steam, no Dome. No Dome, no life.

Or so she thinks.

That is, until a mysterious man offers her a way out of having to donate steam. A way to escape the corrupt government of Dome Four. While the offer seems too good to be true, Avery is intrigued. But when she arrives to her new home, she realizes the grass isn’t any less dead on this side of the fence. Instead, the lies are just hidden better.

…Which means digging deeper.

When Avery enlists the help of her friends to uncover the truth, she learns that while some secrets are better left concealed, humankind was never meant to live in a cage. And when you can control the most sought after resource, you can learn to control anything…including the fate of your world.


Review:

Steel Lily is a book I've been meaning to read for a while, and after finally having finished it, I enjoyed it.

The world is really cool. People live in these giant domes because World War 3 destroyed the rest of the Earth and Avery's dome is the last one in existence. Within the domes lies a poverty filled world completely reliant on people like Avery- Elementalists. Instead of using electricity, steam is used and because Avery can make steam by manipulating the elements, she's the governments' most valuable tool.

Although there remain a few questions about the world and Avery's actions, I was pleased that the author realized these questions existed and even addressed them. Early on, Avery makes some very selfish choices and I was happy to see she was called out on them. I would have liked to have spent more time on this though- things Avery should be guilty for, the choices she did or didnt make, instead of feeling bad for other people's sacrifices for her.

This kind of contributed to me not really being into Avery. I didn't hate her, but she never really won me over either. I think she'll get there. The characters in general were all cool but missing that little extra bit. Alice was a great BFF and I want to see her get a chance to shine too. Her character has a charismatic personality but needs some time to become an active player, not just a liability. I liked Jaxon too, even if he was overly quippy at times. Avery is a good influence on him and I'd like to see his character grow. Their romance didn't bother me because it took time. Avery wasn't going to rush things, and Jaxon was willing to prove himself to her.

There are villains and heroes, and although it's a little too clear which is which at this point (ahem, after you finish the book) I want to know more about both sides. If there are two sides in a war, I like to see blurred lines. Some characters did blur the lines and I liked it. There were a few big twists too that blindsided me.

My main critique of Steel Lily is that I would like the story to slow down. So much is being introduced and it's exciting, but as a reader I need time to digest it. This book was nonstop action to the point where I felt a little overwhelmed as a reader because there was such an onslaught of stuff happening. A few scenes based on character development and just learning about the world would have helped a lot. This is however a very personal issue so take it with a grain of salt.

I was never bored. That's a highlight. I managed to read Steel Lily very quickly and the ending was definitely exciting.


-P.E.


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The Weekly Progress: Icicles Outside My Window

The Weekly Progress is a type of wrap up post that happens every Sunday on The Sirenic Codex looking on the week that was.

It's been a while since I've done a TWP so I'm super excited as I usually love reading about P.E.'s week. This past week was definitely a packed one for most people and I hope everyone had a wonderful week. Happy holidays and merry christmas to all those who celebrated.

Currently Reading:

These Broken Stars - Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner

I have an obsession with this book. It shows up in everyone of my recent posts! I finally got it on my kobo and am slowly making my way through... (very slowly) but that's not the book's fault. I can't wait to have some time to really read it.





On The Blog:

We kicked off the week with my post on judging books by their cover and why you should do it!

On tuesday, the final Cover Wars of 2013 went up. This time it's Under Different Stars vs. Love Letters to the Dead. Make sure to head over and vote, if you haven't already.

Then, we had another round up type post, this time it's P.E.'s Best Books of 2013. She's had a pretty great reading year and you can see all her favourites there.

Next, we had P.E's review of Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo, which is a rising favourite of hers. I haven't read it yet but I'm looking forward to the series.

I then wrote about some of my most anticipated 2014 sequels from my tbr list. What sequels are you looking forward to?

The week was wrapped up by P.E.'s review of This Song Will Save Your Life. I've heard great things about the book and P.E.'s excitement towards it has made me very curious as well.

Current Obsessions:

My favourite part of the post mwahaha! This is where I get to veer completely off track and start talking about things that I might be the only one who's interested in. Nevertheless, blab I will!

So this happened while I was scrolling down my youtube feed, which is filled with some awesome world entertainment. Anything from bollywood, hollywood, china/taiwan to Korea. This particular one is Korean!

It started like this!

And then this.. 


Mari is falling in love

Mind Blown!


In case you're interested, that's Bi/Rain a very popular k-pop singer who was discharged from his mandatory military service this year and I finally got to see him perform (on my computer screen) and I'm a fan. Watch the video?

Anyways.......

Back to the books. I didn't do much shopping this boxing day, which made me quite sad, but I did buy some books for a couple of friends. After having gone to store choosing, picked up the book and coming home, I realized (thanks to goodreads) that my friend had already read the book! Tears. So I'll be exchanging that.

Song of the Week

I'm not as musical as P.E. or as eloquent in my description of music videos. This one isn't even english and I don't understand what they are saying... but it's pretty and it's great for the season! Also, I just love how it sounds so it's what I've been listening to all week :)



Have a great week everyone!

-MARI

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Review: This Song Will Save Your Life

Author: Leila Sales
Date of Publication: September 17 2013
Pages: 288
Source: Giveaway!

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Review:

It was probably one of the most hyped of books of the year so I was dying to get my hands on it. After having read it, it wasn't what I was expecting in some ways and surprised me in others.

First, this book did not change my life. I didn't cry or get teary, but there were times when I was horrified. As much as I related to Elise, I think our issues are very different.

Elise is tired of being on the outside. She's not popular and she has trouble even making friends. She is bullied on account of being so different and in general, she has a hard time connecting to people. She needs that though. Elise desperately needs someone to see her and to kind of find her place. She wants friends.

I would normally be extremely weary of a book about popularity and bullying and that's because I don't like people who victimize themselves. It's human nature I suppose, but I do believe that a big part of anti-bullying strategies has to be empowering people to realize their own worth and never have it be taken away from them. I was happy to see that Elise knows who she is and fights back in her own way. What people says hurts her, but she tries to minimize it.

What makes This Song Will Save Your Life such a great book is that it is to easy to connect to. It often had me thinking about my own life and my own choices. Elise is brilliant in ways that people can't see and don't initially realize. When she does something, she throws everything into it. She's always doing more and extra, and somewhere along the way Elise has decided that is what is wrong with her- her otherness. So, she tries to hold herself back and be like other people, or at least what other people outwardly show.

Elise's character is rational and I adored her. She changes and truly grows and I'm proud of her. The other characters in the story are good too. They all have their issues, from Vicky to Char, but seeing all the different layers to them was pretty special. I enjoyed learning about them.

The DJing aspect was super cool. It's something that I was always interested in and that wasn't in YA so it was a very original flair to the story. Although I don't have the same taste in music as Elise, I loved her love of music.

The strongest part to This Song Will Save Your Life is the message. It can be interpreted in many ways because there are a lot of topics touched on like suicide and bullying, but the message that I took to heart is never to hold yourself back. It's an inspiring message and one that I think matters a lot.

When I was writing this review, I constantly had to keep deleting paragraphs I wrote because I would leave the topic of the story and focus on personal stuff that had nothing to do with the book. That's because This Song Will Save Your Life is an introspective book, the type that makes me look at my life. Everyone needs to read books like this.


-P.E.


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TBR 2014 - Sequels




One of the best parts of the year end, besides my birthday, is the fact that now we're even closer to the release of some widely anticipated books. There are sequels, debuts, fantasies, contemporaries you name it. Oh the smell of a new year of books. 

Due to the enormity of my list, I'm going to split this into short spotlights of a few books I'm most excited for. I’m going to start with my most anticipated sequels as it seems that I can’t stop picking up books in a series.

Lady Thief - A.C. Gaughen

A retelling of Robin Hood and his band but with a twist! I absolutely loved the first book in this series Scarlet, to the point that it ranked among my top 5 favourite reads of 2013. As you can tell, I was very happy to hear that the author was writing a sequel and I can't wait to get my hands on it. Also, I love the covers in this series. They are nothing too extravagant but they are fitting for the time period they depict. 

Erased - Jennifer Rush


Altered was a spontaneous pick. I'd seen it around on my goodreads feed and decided to read the synopsis. One thing led to another and the next thing I knew I had downloaded the book and was halfway through it. The first one in the series was a lot of fun and action so I'm hoping more from this one. This series also reminds me a lot of Kelley Armstrong's The Darkest Powers Trilogy which is another favourite!

The Geography of You and Me  - Jennifer E. Smith


This series has been a bit of a hit and miss with me. I loved The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight but was disappointed by This is What Happy Looks Like. However, I have high hopes for this one. I love how Jennifer E. Smith sets each of her books somewhere else. It makes the read even more interesting. I can’t wait to see all the places she visits in this one. Also, that cover!!!

Mortal Heart - R.L. LaFevers

I'm way too excited to jump back into this world! Mortal Heart is the final book in the His Fair Assassin Trilogy about assassin nuns! I know, go read Grave Mercy! I love strong heroines who can fight and defend themselves. Put them in corsets, give them a dagger, add chivalrous knights and oh man it’s hard for me to avoid them for long!

Throne of Glass #3 - Sarah J. Maas

The ending to Crown of Midnight was a killer; so many possibilities! Chaol and Celaena are quickly becoming one of my new obsessions, so I can't wait to read more about their story.


What Are You Anticipating This New Year?

-MARI

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Review: Siege and Storm

Author: Leigh Bardugo
Date of Publication: June 4 2013
Pages: 432
Series: Sequel to Shadow and Bone
Source: Giveaway! YAY!

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Review:

I'm addicted and I just can't get enough.

No seriously. There is something insane within this story, some alluring quality that calls to me. Time blurs by as the pages turn and I can't muster up any will to stop reading. Siege and Storm is a pretty all consuming read.

Alina has and is changing. She is dealing with having great power and it is taking something from her. She is more ruthless and less focused on being kind to everybody. She knows what she wants and is determined to get it. I enjoyed reading about Alina trying not to fall apart. There is noticeable change in her character and I kept wondering whether it was change because she's no longer a peasant or if the change came because of the power she took that isn't quite natural. Either way, there is a beautiful set up going on and I'm looking forward to seeing Alina change again in the final book.

The plot shined in Siege and Storm. I said in Shadow and Bone that although there were elements of something truly unique, the story was pretty typical until the end. I'm glad Siege and Storm improved upon that and the plot is memorable with many twists and turns. What I liked most was the focus on the difficulties Alina faces as a major player. It's impossible for her to know who to trust and she's so alone sometimes that I can't help but sympathize with her.

The Darkling may be one of my favourite villains ever. He has so much charisma and every scene his character is in, he steals the show. I once fell into the trap of believing he could be redeemed, that he wanted to fix the fold. I was wrong and it's clear all he wants is power. He's the type of villain that it despicable and horrible but also calls out to you; he's very hypnotic.

There are some other characters better introduced as well that impressed because of how dynamic they were. They could change very easily which made them resemble real people and they did evolve. Alina's relationship with Mal fascinated me because it was so representative of her life. The two of them truly love each other but there are enormous obstacles in their way. I was frustrated with both of them at times, but their mistakes were reasonable.

Finishing Siege and Storm makes me sad. Leigh Bardugo's books truly bring me to another world and as stressed out as I have been because of school, they make me forget everything but Alina's story. I'm sad that I have to wait so long for the next book, and I'm even more sad that this is a trilogy because these books have struck a chord and are among my favourites. I'm now experiencing a tremendous book hangover.


-P.E.


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P.E.'s Best Books Of 2013




These won't be necessarily books published in 2013, but books I read throughout the year.

It was a good year for me. I didn't read as many books as in previous years, but I feel very happy with what I read. I read a lot of different styles, and some of my favourite series ended. Anyway, here are my top 5 books of the year. I've actually ranked them too, which kills me a little. I love them all. I'm ranking them from best to least best. 

1. Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta



Easy pick. No, really, and that's all you need to know about Quintana of Charyn, this fabulous book that has a permanent spot in my heart. It's a masterpiece, and the perfect ending in every way to The Lumatere Chronicles. I can't recommend this series enough. 

2. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan


Another masterpiece. This is my faourite Riordan book ever, and the cliffhanger was particularly cruel. I enjoyed every single second of this book.

3. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater


Somehow, Maggie Stiefvater wrote her best book yet and The Dream Thieves was a pleasure to read in every way, but particularly due to fantastic writing, and outstanding character development. 

4. Crash and Burn by Michael Hassan


An incredibly strong story with great tone in writing, and somehow this story stuck with me. It got me to write one of my better reviews, and I completely got what the author was saying. I cried, I laughed, but most importantly, I reflected on life. 

5. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black


It was a hard decision, but I went with Black's book because every part of it felt so complete. I loved the flashbacks, and the vampire world was incredibly engaging. I loved this new twist on vampires and I enjoyed this book immensely. 

Some Thoughts

I know, a lot of these books are within series. That's because I generally always have a complaint at the beginning of a series, but by the end I seem to fall in love with everything and the author distinguishes their series enough for me. I'm very happy with these books, and I think 2013 was a great year. 

-P.E.



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Cover Wars: Under Different Stars vs. Love Letters to the Dead


Cover Wars is a weekly showdown of two beautiful covers. The winner, as voted by you, goes on to face a new cover, and wins bragging rights. This is basically a fun way to discuss what we like in covers.

Cover Wars returns for the last time this year with the current champion, Love Letters to the Dead. This week Love Letters is paired up against the gorgeous cover of Under Different Stars by Amy A. Bartol.


Stars seem to be a popular addition to covers this year, may it be in the title or on the cover itself. Under Different Stars has a very subtle beauty about it. Nothing about it is to extravagant but it's simplicity is beautiful, similar to Love Letters. The dark waters engulfing the model works really well with her beige flowy dress that's the same tone as her hair and skin. The designs on the top and bottom also add a more delicate feel.

So, which'll it be?

Which cover should win Cover Wars?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

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Judging Books By Their Covers

Covers and cover art. As humans we are really into beauty, the definition of which is blurry. But it is beautiful. We like beauty in everything; our homes, our clothes, our partners and ourselves. Then why not our books. They are filled with beautiful characters and places so why can’t they have beautiful covers?

YA readers and bloggers are very lucky in the sense that YA literature tends to have beautiful covers. They are bright, decorative, artsy, fashionable and plain stunning at times. They call to you. 
"Mari! Pick me, pick me” 

This is great. Books should be beautiful, it’s called marketing. And literature doesn’t need to be plain, especially when the words inside are so colourful.


Covers like these make me facepalm. That poor author worked so hard and he is probably very proud to be published. But somewhere in the peripheral of his mind he's probably wondering why the cover artist chose that cover.
Why Me!?

Of course this isn’t always the case. I mean if simplicity was a cover instead of a word, Stephen Chbosky’s Perks of Being a Wallflower would've taken the medal. Yet, due to the fact that the insides are beautiful, and that Chbosky has created a wonderful story, with dynamic characters. As well as some luck and a dedicated fan following, the book is an all time favourite for many and not to a mention Hollywood movie with Emma Watson!!!


Speaking of Emma Watson, would Harry Potter be what it is today if the cover artists didn’t feel like adding the lighting bolt to the end of the P in Potter? That lightning bolt might have been the reason that little 11 years old boy/girl picked up the book and that lightning bolt might've been the catalyst that started the revolution that is Harry Potter!

The YA section in my library houses one shelf, albeit a large shelf but it's still one shelf. So how is the library so full? What are all the other books? I don’t know.

When I walk down the adult fantasy isle, my favourite genre being fantasy. I can’t find much that I want to pick up, despite the fact that fantasy tends to have more of the interesting covers, may it be YA or adult. Walk down the non fiction aisle and I just might fall asleep, unless there is a book on volcanos; then I might blink a few times.



Point of the story being, JUDGE THE BOOKS BY THEIR COVERS! Do it. I know you do it anyway.

One has every right to judge a book because the book is interesting looking therefore it might be good. I think this gives publishers more of a push in making their books more pleasing to the eyes. If you're going to do it, then do it right. Do justice to those books because that author has worked hard and deserves a book cover that he or she can readily boast about. 

-MARI

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The Weekly Progress: Holidays

The Weekly Progress is a type of wrap up post that happens every Sunday on The Sirenic Codex looking on the week that was.

School is finally over! That means two weeks of fun! I plan to make the most of my holidays with lots of cookies and chocolate. I want to be especially festive this year because, um, I don't know where I'll be next year, so I'm making the most out of today.

I didn't finish any books last week. I feel the shame.

Currently Reading

 In my defence, Speed of Light is a super hard read, in the sense that there's a lot of overwriting and not a lot of plot. So, I've been reading a little every day, but I don't seem to be making too much progress. 

Blog Recap

This week started off with Mari's Top 5 books of the year. Not gonna lie, I stole her idea and wrote one of my own which is scheduled for a little later. 

Then, because it's the holidays, Mari and I teamed up for a Gift Guide for the Bookish.

Finally, I got to post my review of Shadow and Bone! The first in one of my new favourite series. 

The week ended with Connections and Expectations, a post from about three months ago that got lost in the shuffle. It's about how reading changes. 

The Week That Was

It started out with lots of stress because of tests and math projects. Then it ended with the beginning of the holidays, which was fun. So far, I've already gone shopping and went to a Christmas party yesterday, with a sleigh ride and elf village. The funniest part was seeing my cynical little sister ask way too many questions and watching the elves respond. 

Song of the Week

No way, a song with lyrics? A song that isn't part of EDM? Really? Well, I've never only liked one genre of music, and I love the vocals and the melody of this song. Plus, I promise I searched really hard for an electronic remix I liked, but nothing quite got it right, and the original is pretty spectacular. I still want an Alesso remix of this though. Counting Stars by One Republic. 



Happy Holidays!

-P.E.

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Connections and Expectations

There once was a time when my primary concern going into a novel was being entertained. My life has never been excessively shitty, but there are some days where I need that escape and for the longest time, books were just that. They were my escape. My only escape.

Times have changed. I read less now, but I don't feel like my love for books has diminished; only my dependence has, and diversifying my interests may not be a bad thing. It has certainly resulted in more experiences and better writings. But, I digress.

It used to be that for me to be satisfied with a book, I needed to be entertained and that was it. I never wanted my life to change; I never fretted over other things to do. I could read and if the book did its job correctly, I would forget. I figured blogging would open new doors; I could be even closer to this hobby that I adore so dearly.

I am now. I understand publishing and what goes on behind a book much better than the average person. I've been contacted by publishers and authors and publicists. I know industry trends and many worries. I've swam beneath the waters to take a closer look than the proverbial iceberg (and *brr* it's freezing!) and now everything has changed.

Refining a critical and analytical eye means that I look for something more in books than "Did I like it?" There is a sense of responsibility because I'm not just looking at books for me, but I'm also looking at books for other readers, bloggers, and authors.

This change came into view after I reviewed Mystic City. The book earned 1 star from me, although at the end I explained how the story entertained me. If you read a book for entertainment, that book deserves a much higher rating.

I don't read books for entertainment anymore. I wan
t a book to transcend pure entertainment and become something meaningful to me. I want it to be a part of me; something that touches me and reawakens some emotion I have.

This doesn't mean I'm looking for emotional, deep books. A book with a plot or fantastical setting that transports me into a different world is enough. The most important element I look for now is a connection.

It is something I desperately crave when I read. A connection to plot, setting, characters... anything. I don't need to have fun; fun isn't necessary. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green was not fun. I hate that book even though and because it made me cry and I remember whining to my mom about how unfair the world was. Not fun. Not even likable- I don't want to feel so desperate for something substantially constant. There was a connection though. A very powerful connection that made me angry because I didn't like having my emotions turned around because of a cancer book and there was anger at myself too (Why the hell would I put myself through this?) and it was one of the most powerful reading experiences I had because of the negativity and the positivity.

Fun is great; I'm over fun. Gone are the days where I used to read Gossip Girl and The A-List. Maybe one day I will go back to wanting a book to entertain me and nothing more. Right now, I want connections and possible impacts. Books like Insigina by S.J. Kincaid are ideal because they can both entertain and engross; there are deeper aspects to the plot and world building that resonate.

I don't begrudge anyone that looks for a simple escape when they read. I'm not a person of absolutes; sometimes I will accept a book just for fun. But right now, the books I enjoy are those that can form a connection.

-P.E.

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Review: Shadow and Bone

Author: Leigh Bardugo
Date of Publication: June 5 2012
Pages: 358
Source: Won in giveaway! :)

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Review:

For the longest time, I felt like I was missing out. I don't get to read all the popular books when they come out, but I like to read a lot of the hyped ones. I kept hearing good stuff about Shadow and Bone and then I got really lucky and won a copy of it from my library. There were quotes from Veronica Roth and Rick Riordan everywhere and at that point I was as good as sold. I mean, two of my favourite authors like this book? It must be good! Alas, it was not what I was expecting in some ways, but there is an undeniable thrill to reading Shadow and Bone.

What I wasn't expecting was how slow a lot of the story was. The setting wasn't completely new to begin with and it took a while for the twists to happen. This means that I felt the book was formulaic until the end where it distinguished itself pretty strongly. The beginning was great, the middle was weaker, and the ending was great too.

Technically, I should have been annoyed during the middle. I mean, ordinary girl becomes special and starts to live like a princess? That's very typical of YA. I wasn't bored though. I knew there was something more to the story. There's this delicious undercurrent all throughout of something darker and more dangerous and I enjoyed the suspense and mystery as the story tried to lull me into a false sense of security. Actually, Leigh Bardugo did which is impressive considering I was on guard all throughout Shadow and Bone.

The characters all intrigued me and I liked them. Alina is a very human character and I felt like I would have reacted to a lot of what happened similarly. I want to write more about the other characters, but I can't in specific terms because I'll inevitably spoil something. That being said, I think the most interesting character is the Darkling. It's hard to get a grasp on his personality and there are so many layers of him that I would like to explore. All the characters were useful and none of them annoyed me in any way.

The world was extremely cool. I know nothing at all about Russia, but I thought it was cool that this fantasy world has Russian undertones. I loved learning about the Grisha and the Unsea. As always, I'd love to learn more but I feel like what I got in Shadow and Bone was sufficient for this book.

This is the part of my review where it becomes hard to explain myself. Have you ever read a chapter of a book and immediately knew it was your style of book? It was weird, but I read the prologue and I was hooked. The writing, the style, the story... I was fascinated, and it addicted me. I couldn't stop flipping pages and near the end I needed to read so badly and I spent lunch and class time reading. The story was so compelling and that addictive quality is rare but it's part of the reason I love to read.

Although Shadow and Bone is a very strong set up book, it has a very good ending that I'm dying to read. In fact, I may or may not have rushed this review so I could move on to Siege and Storm! I have extremely high hopes for this series and it should be fun!



-P.E.


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Gift Guides for the Bookish


It's that time of year. The naked trees are covered with snow, the air is crisp and cold and the malls are about to implode. In spirit of the holiday season, we thought about making a gift guide for the Bookish (you know who your are). 

Have you ever had the following situation happen to you? Because it sure has for me.


Loving Family: So what should I get you this year?
Me/You: Oh nothing, thank you! Alright, well I like books.
--- Gift giving time---
Loving Family: Tada! Don't you love it! It's called Twilight, I hear its all the rage. 
Me/You: ...I read this 5 years ago...

We are all book lovers but among us we have many different interests. For example, I'm more of a romantic/ fantasy lover while P.E. is more interested in the action/thrillers. With the uniqueness of the bookish community in mind we compiled a fun list that we think are perfect for the holidays.

For the Romantics:

These Broken Stars by 


If that cover doesn't scream romantic, I'm not sure what does. This one has been quite popular as of late. It's a great mix of sci-fi, romance and action all taking place in space, up among the stars.. who are broken :P

For the Comedians:

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh


This book won Goodreads' Humor award for a reason. I'm reading it right now and it's hilarious, yet thoughtful. I knew how special this book was after it made me laugh so hard that I choked, and then had a coughing fit. Definitely a must read. 

For the Adventurers:

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo


This is a fantasy novel with one of the most compelling worlds out there. The premise of the Grisha is incredible, there is an amazing plot, and the villains are compelling. If you want to be immersed in a different world and somehow haven't read this series yet, you need to change that. 

For the Thriller Junkies:

Insignia by S.J. Kincaid


Oh, how I adore this series. Imagine a world where corporations have more power than government, and these corporations sponsor a never ending war. This war happens in space, so nobody on Earth dies. It boosts the economy without real casualty. Tom is about to learn the secret behind this war, and it's pretty awesome (in the most awful way).

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson


An incredibly epic story with lots of action. There are explosions, guns, superheroes and villains. This was one of my favourite books of the year and it's totally worthy of a read. I wrote more about it in my review. 

For the Fantasy Lovers:

The Healer Series by Maria V. Snyder

If you haven't picked up one of her books, it's time you did. The Study series is a very popular one, while the Healer series is the latest. Both are set in the same historical fantasy world with lots of action adventure, magic, assassins, kings and prisoners. Also, the last book in this trilogy, Taste of Darkness comes out december.

Season 1,2,3 of Game of Thrones


You have to have seen this one coming. P.E. and I are big fans. What is there to say, it's fantastic, watch it. Also, winter is coming!


For the Historians:

A Great and Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray


This series can be quite daunting due to it's size but know that it's well worth it. Victorian era London, girls preparatory school, school girl friendship/betrayals and hidden magic. Pure magnificence.

For the Gypsies:

Antique Globe - Chapters.Indigo

Ok, so this one is a bit too extravagant but it's beautiful! Come on gypsies of the blogging community you know you want it. 

I've always wanted a globe or map, where I could poke needles in and point out the places I've been too. I'm not sure if I would dare puncture this beauty, but one can dream.

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson


If you haven't read this one yet, this holiday season is the time to do so. Especially on a particularly cold day. Curl up on you reading chair and read this book!

For the Thoughtful 

You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself by David McRaney



I've raved about this book to everyone I know, just because I genuinely think it's a little life changing. People are so full of BS sometimes, and for the introspective reader, this book is a really fun read. You will learn a lot through reading it as it explains psychological disorders and delusions in an easily comprehensible and engaging fashion.

We hope you've enjoyed this list!
-Mari & P.E.

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