Reconciling Reading About Tragedy

Sometimes, I think I'm certifiably insane.

I have a wonderful life and I really haven't dealt with anything too awful. I've always had the bare necessities of life, and then some. Death hasn't touched my life very much. Neither has sickness. I guess I don't believe I've ever suffered, and it's not like I believe I'm on the path to suffering. I'm generally a good girl. I get good grades, get a long with people, and I believe I'm sensible. I may be too cocky, but there's nothing wrong with that.

The books I read however are often really weird and dark. I've read about diseases, people dying in elaborate tragedies, drugs, prostitution. I noticed when I was reading a review of The Lure that the first thing that come to my head was, "Hey, I totally want to read about this." (Later, now that I've read more reviews, I'm not so sure.)

Anyway, it got me wondering: why?

I obviously have some sort of attraction to darker stories, which makes no sense at all because I'm constantly referred to as an optimist. It's not just me either. Think about The Fault in Our Stars. (Don't worry, I won't spoil anything.) That book doesn't even pretend it's not going to hurt you. I read the book because people said it would tear me to pieces, and ohmygawd it did.

Yet somehow, this gets categorized as a good book.

After I finished The Fault in Our Stars, I hated it. I wrote a review saying I thought it was an incredibly stupid book because it's sick (no pun intended). It uses cancer as a drawing point for a love story. So many people are suffering from cancer, and this book uses cancer to attract readers?

It's the fundamental issue I have with all books about diseases. The draw to them is the disease, and I guess it feels wrong to me because I will read the book, and I will get emotionally invested, and I will be in pain and cry and then I'll close the book, and maybe for a few days, everything will be better. But in reality, for many people it's not better. They just can't close a book.

As a reader, I get to understand what their lives are like, but that sense of understanding is false. That's what happens with a lot of dark stories. In some ways, it just feels so unnatural to want to read a book about pain and suffering. At the same time, tragedies have been around for ages and that's what they do.

Aristotle had this idea of catharsis. When you read something bad, it makes you feel bad and thus expels all the bad feelings you have inside of you. To some extent, it makes sense. It's the reason you feel better after crying. But I don't feel like I read dark stories for catharsis.

I don't have a concrete answer for how I reconcile reading tragedies, but the way I see it is that they reveal a new world to me. They make me feel bigger than I am because they make me aware of another type of world. They also are some of the best books at promoting some type of life truth.

I've read before that some people believe that truth comes from suffering. Suffering, and getting better, gives some sort of insight. I'm not suffering, nor do I want to suffer, but sometimes I do look around the world and wonder if there's anything more.

It's not all about grades and clothes and sporting events and tv shows. It feels like it is, and it's so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of every day life. The biggest thing I get from dark stories is just this feeling that there's more to my life than "pleasant". It's awful, but they make me realize how lucky I am and help me appreciate what I do have.

What I wonder sometimes is that if I feel awful for reading books like this, how do the authors writing them feel? Their books are obviously heavy and serious. Do they ever wonder why there's something so dangerous in their heads? Do they write it with the intent to spark awareness in the reader? Are they sending out a message?

This seems like an awfully long post just to say that at the end of the day, I don't know how I reconcile reading books about awful things happening to people. I don't have an answer, so I'll leave the floor to you guys in the comments. What do you think?



What do you think?

Review: Fangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell
Date of Publication: September 10 2013
Pages: 445
Source: Librarian (thanks!)

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?


Fangirl is my first Rainbow Rowell read, and another foray into a genre I don't usually seek out: contemporary. I liked a lot of the story but there were also some parts that weren't to my liking.

The ending, for example, felt abrupt. There wasn't a clear problem so the story kind of went along for a while, and although there were positives to this sort of plot, it made the ending weak. It was like the story was fading already, so the point at which it faded was arbitrary. I suppose that's the first thing about Fangirl that I like and don't like. The plot just seems to go on and on about Cath's life. It's totally intentional, but if you don't like Cath or the writing style, the plot of Fangirl won't save you. It's definitely one of those stories that's about the process, not the ending.

I was pretty happy that I liked the writing style almost instantly, and grew to like Cath. I'm going to university next year and I don't know where I'm going, and it's hard to find books about this. I thought the beginning of Fangirl was perfect because it captured the excitement and the terror of moving out (at least the way I imagine it). I think what was so powerful about Fangirl, what drew me in right away, was that I believe everyone has a bit of Cath inside of them. It's so easy to relate to Cath because awkward moments are everywhere, and sometimes I do wish people would just go away, and maybe I am terrified to go to the dining hall too. She was a character that had a clear personality, but someone I could relate with so well, and I enjoyed experiencing the world through her eyes.

The character development in Fangirl is phenomenal. I mentioned that the plot wasn't the biggest highlight. I have this philosophy that if the plot isn't going to be good, the characters have to be, and this was absolutely true for Fangirl. Have you ever looked at a person and wondered about all the little things that make them who they are? My sister, for example, always wears a headband and hates hair in her eyes. It's a really tiny thing about her, but I notice it because I am her sister and I know her in a way most people will never know. That was how Rainbow Rowell treated her characters. They were like people with mannerisms that she was describing, and she really nailed their essence. The weren't just words on a page- they had a presence, and I loved it. It made Fangirl much more real and Cath's interactions so fascinating.

A byproduct of the fantastic characterization were the fantastic relationships. For example, Reaghan was Cath's roommate. Reaghan was a little bit scary, a little gruff, frowned a lot, had a history and a life outside of Cath. Somehow, she was perfect for Cath. She took Cath under her wing and she sometimes said some mean things, but she said them with love. Their relationship developed from two strangers sharing a room to friends. All the relationships developed like this: slowly, and carefully. The character was introduced, and slowly they became more integrated into Cath's orbit (or not).

I don't know how I got through this review without mentioning the actual fangirling part. Cath is an enormous fan of a series that resembles Harry Potter. She writes incredibly popular fan fiction and she is in the process of writing Carry On, which is like the eighth book in the series (before the actual eighth book comes out). Cath loves her fictional world and it's constantly in the back of her mind. It's a lot like her comfort blanket and it's a part of who she is. Obviously, I can relate in many ways seeing as I write in a blog and get vaguely (okay, fine, totally) obsessive about anything I really care about. It was cool that at the start of every chapter there was a little bit of media that kind of introduced the reader to Cath's favourite fictional world.

Furthermore, I enjoyed Cath's fan fiction, and the way that she felt about it. There was a conversation Cath had with some random at what I think was a library, and she basically met another Simon Snow fan, and the two were talking and this conversation just felt so real because this is how I've made many friends- by fangirling. Anyway, it's a huge part of the novel and Rainbow Rowell explains it quite well. Fandoms have become infinitely more popular in the last few years and there's a whole generation of Beliebers and Directioners ready to be set loose on the world. I would be curious to read a book about them now, but I digress.

The best way to describe Fangirl is that it's a book about life. More specifically, it's about the life of Cath, a fan fiction writer and an English major. A lot happens, because it's her life, but I don't think there is a clear cut story. Fangirl is awesome if you have ever wondered what life is like as someone else. Sometimes, it feels a little slow, and other times the moments are so perfect it's like you're living them. Either way, I enjoyed this glimpse into another world and will be looking forward to reading more by Rainbow Rowell.



What do you think?

Discussion: Books You Hate that Everyone Loves

A discussion between Mari and P.E.

We talk a lot about books we love on TSC. That's wonderful and we should keep it that way because talking about good books makes us happy. However, it's healthy to take a break sometimes and go against the norm. Today, lets talk about some books that other liked and we utterly despised. P.E?

I don't feel comfortable saying I've ever despised a book, except for that one book that killed off one of my favourite characters (but most people weren't into that book either). I will say that some books have not lived up to the hype. One that comes straight to mind is one I recently read, and a book I know you won't like hearing this about: Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols. I couldn't get into it, and I honestly don't understand the hype it gets. (Sorry, Mari.)

I feel like you're going to be stuck on that one for a long time. Honestly, I think it was more your fault (dragged it out too long) than the book but you're not the only one who didn't like it so no worries. Since we're going head on, I'm going to mention The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (ohhh ya). I was so crazy about this book, always ogling at it in the book stores until I finally got it from the library and it disappointed me. I know you're going to argue that the book was supposed to be slow and sensual with fantastic writing. I'll give in, the writing was great but I wanted more, some action, some relationships, anything to move the plot forward.

Oh snap, you did NOT go there. The Scorpio Races was subtle and gorgeous! And the characters were fantastic, how could you not like it?! Speaking of books we disagree on, how about Throne of Glass? I was expecting a badass read but I thought the book was all talk without much action. Celaena spent more time fawning over boys then really being the kickass heroine she was supposed to be. I was actually pretty disappointed in that one. 

Oh yes I did! I read to save myself from boredom and TSR didn't help at all. As for Throne of Glass, I completely agree. Celaena, a starved assassin turned prisoner is released and instead of exacting revenge she jumps around looking at dresses and shaking in her corset every time she sees the king. But, I'm going to writing it off as a human flaw. You for one should understand her predicament. Everyone see's her as tough, or super studious in your case, but when exposed to frilly dresses you both melt. 

No I don't- *looks at tweets about Oscar dresses* *shuts up* Regardless, I didn't think her characterization was consistent. You'll chalk it up as a human flaw, and I'll see it as a flaw in the story. I'm going to bring up another book that everyone seems to adore but me. I'm not that into Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. The story is so slow and the writing is interesting, but I get bored of it pretty quickly because the characters don't interest me either. What did you think of that one?

I actually really enjoyed Shatter Me when I read it but it's been a few years now and it really didn't leave a lasting impression. I don't feel like reading the next books so it has been put to the side for me. I'm not sure exactly why, but I think it's the back story which I found weak. I do really like Warner though.

I think I didn't mind Shatter Me too much, but the sequel really let me down. I guess I'm not that into Warner and I didn't like Juliet's flip flopping between Adam and Warner. Any other book that comes to mind?

This one I've been confused over for a while. Glass Houses, the first book in the Morganville Vampire series. I plain did not like it. The characters were nothing special, the vampire town was weird and her parents were never around. Who sends there kid to a backwater town to study at a community college rather than Princeton, Harvard etc, especially when they are a genius. No, the excuse of her being too young does not suffice.

At this point you have to be trolling me. I enjoyed that series. The dynamic between the vampires and the humans, the danger, poor little Claire slowly growing up and proving people wrong... it was lots of fun. I don't have an explanation for your complaint (I read that book years ago) but I remember being completely okay with the bizarre world and the fascinating characters. Another book for me that would make this list is The Tyrant's Daughter. My review is upcoming for it so I won't say too much besides that it disappointed me so much, and I'm honestly shocked that I seem to be alone in that regard. I even scoured Goodreads searching for a low star reviews but I couldn't find any. 

I think I might have been impressed if I had read it when I was 14 or something, but by 16 I had already outgrown the plot and characters. 

What Do You Think?


What do you think?

Review: Resist

Author: Sarah Crossan
Date of Publication: October 8 2013
Pages: 368
Series: Breathe #2
Source: Library

The sequel—and conclusion—to Sarah Crossan's Breathe. Three teen outlaws must survive on their own in a world without air, exiled outside the glass dome that protects what's left of human civilization. Gripping action, provocative ideas, and shocking revelations in a dystopian novel that fans of Patrick Ness and Veronica Roth will devour.

Bea, Alina, and Quinn are on the run. They started a rebellion and were thrown out of the pod, the only place where there's enough oxygen to breathe. Bea has lost her family. Alina has lost her home. And Quinn has lost his privileged life. Can they survive in the perilous Outlands? Can they finish the revolution they began? Especially when a young operative from the pod's Special Forces is sent after them. Their only chance is to stand together, even when terrible circumstances force them apart. When the future of human society is in danger, these four teens must decide where their allegiances lie. Sarah Crossan has created a dangerous, and shattered society in this wrenching, thought-provoking, and unforgettable post-apocalyptic novel.


Resist did nothing to pull me in emotionally.

I thought I may as well start this review with brutal honesty. I can tiptoe around it, but this is by far the biggest issue of Resist. I wasn't a fan of Breathe, but I read a review that spoke so highly of Resist that I convinced myself that it deserved another chance. So, here we are.

The characters were barely distinguishable to me. Alina was fierce, Bea was strong, Quinn was umm, mature? Ronan was the only one I felt had any real characterization and he was probably my favourite character. Maybe it was the writing style but I just felt so detached from all of them. The story featured alternating perspectives but it wasn't done too well and I really couldn't tell who's perspective I was reading.

The world building failed when it came to plausibility. I don't understand why the evil villains did their evil deeds. There was no explanation besides that they're insane, which I can't really believe when so many people supported them. It feels like it was written for shock value, but with no real basis and that's irritating. Furthermore, I had a lot of trouble believing in the lack of technology. The fact that there weren't any cameras and microphones in every room was strange. The plan the good guys concocted just seemed too lucky.

I didn't like the structure of the story either because I felt like some parts dragged out, and other were way too short. The ending, with a scene that was supposed to be epic, fell rather flat because there wasn't enough build up. Something happened for shock value (again), and I realized to what extent I was emotionally detached when I couldn't bring myself to care and moved on.

Resist was easily readable, but in the sense that you could make yourself read it and be interested. When I put the book down however, I felt no compulsion or curiosity concerning the story. None of the characters were fascinating, the premise wasn't believable, and the plot felt dull.

Maybe this is a writing issue in the sense of execution. I feel like this series could have been good, and when I think of it, the idea is cool. Imagine living without oxygen? Sounds awful to be given or denied oxygen based on your social class. However, somehow Breathe and Resist both fell flat. I don't know if there are more books. (Turns out there are not.) Neither do I care. Resist didn't work for me.



What do you think?

WoW - Since You've Been Gone

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 

Since You've Been Gone

May 6, 2014

The Pre-Sloane Emily didn't go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn't do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just... disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try... unless they could lead back to her best friend. Apple Picking at Night? Ok, easy enough.Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a Stranger? Wait... what?

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go Skinny Dipping? Um...

I'm going back to listing for this one in order to keep myself from fangirl-ing too much.

  • It's a Morgan Matson book! I loved Amy and Roger's Epic Detour, it is one of my favourite road trip book. Then she came out with, Second Chance Summers. That book made my cry. I can't wait to see what she has in store for us in this one.
  • I already relate to Emily in the sense that I'm quite introverted and suck at partying. 
  • The list sounds fun. I've read a couple "to-do list" books and they always end up being quite fun.
  • It may be spring but the snow has just settled in and I don't think it plans to go away anytime soon, so I would love me a summer book right now.
  • I love the cover! I see green grass!

P.S. I love the song Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson too!

What Are You Waiting On?



What do you think?

Cover Wars: Unravel Vs. They All Fall Down

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.

Phew! Last week was a close one. Thanks for voting everyone. The final score at 12:00am was 43 to 48 with They All Fall Down taking the lead. A great battle indeed. 

They All Fall Down has caught all of our attentions with its concept. I'm a big fan of covers that relate to the story and remain attractive. This is defiantly one of the finer few. It also has some awesome juxtaposition going on with the bright colour scheme, seemingly dead girls and reference to a creepy nursery rhyme. 

Unravel Me is on the other end of the spectrum. It's dark from the start, even the model has what looks like a smokey black eye going. The reflection and editing on the cover looks really cool and modern as well. 

So, which'll it be? Let the Cover Wars begin!

Vote now!

Which cover should win Cover Wars? free polls 


What do you think?

Spotlight: Epic Historical Action

I decided to bring back spotlights but revamp them a bit. Instead of focusing on one book, I'm going to do genre spotlights. I hope you enjoy.

This week were looking at Epic Historical Action. When I hear that phrase, I think of castles, spears, muscles and chariots.


Grave Mercy - Mistress of Rome

There are many, but these two are my favourite. Both are beastly in size and amazingness. They feature a strong cast of characters with independent female leads, lots of battles and a well researched history. I had no idea that Britanny was a place until I read Grave Mercy and now that I have I can see the small nation struggle as it is being overwelmed by larger and more powerful countries.


300: Brave, heroic warriors awaits you in 300.
Pompeii: Untouchable but loveable gladiators in Pompeii.
Troy: Hector!

TV Shows: 


This one is more like what I want to watch. I've been ogling this show for too long. It's right up my ally. I'm not too into the sex and gore but if that's what I have to beer with in order to enjoy the shows magnificence then I shall endure. Gladiators!!!

Any Epic Historical Recommendations?



What do you think?

The Weekly Progress: Sleepless Nights Edition

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

I can't remember a week where I slept less that doesn't include a vacation halfway across the world. It was a strange combination of school work, illness, and preparing for our school's Oscar Night. Needless to say I spent absolutely no time on the blog, but hopefully the upcoming week will be better.

Books Read

I have a review written. That's all I'll say. 

Currently Reading

So far, it's pretty interesting. I'm curious about the story. 

On the Blog

I reviewed More Than This, which I ended up enjoying. 

Mari picked Messenger of Fear as her WoW. It's Michael Grant so I totally approve.  

Mari then reviewed the book I'm currently reading at her insistence, Mistress of Rome.

Lastly, I posted about the ways books can teach. In particular, how I learned about depression after reading Hyperbole and a Half.

The Week That Was

So, let's start with the sad part: two of my goldfish died. I tried really hard to take care of them and I don't know what happened. They died about a week after I got them. I named them Edgar, Allan, and Poe. Only Edgar is left. RIP Allan and Poe. 

I worked really hard for my school's Oscar Night, and I think it was a success. I don't really know though because my favourite part of the big day was when it was all over and I could go to sleep. I'm one of those people that needs a lot of sleep time, having about six hours of sleep every day of the week killed my normally eight hour routine. 

I have hopes that this week will be better, but I'm expecting lots of evaluations this week. At least school is almost over!

Song of the Week

This week I discovered the magic that is Borgeous! He has some really huge songs, and this one, Stampede, is definitely among my favourites.  Check out this INSANE mix with like a billion artists of it!

Hope you all had a great week!


What do you think?

Learning About Depression From Hyperbole and a Half

This is a bit of a hard post to write, because it's hard to admit you're wrong. But, I was.

Books are special because they can teach. They can offer a brand new perspective to something, and that perspective can change your whole mindset. I feel like books have shaped me into the person that I am, and they deserve recognition for that.

Yesterday was #BellLetsTalk (not really, but as I'm writing this post, it was). It's when Bell, one of two gigantic media corporations in Canada, tries to start a conversation about mental health. Every tweet with #BellLetsTalk resulted in $0.05 towards mental health initiatives. It sounds like a little, but at the end of the day, over five million dollars was generated.

Every year I grow and learn. Every year I think I have it all figured out, and then I'm shocked to realize I don't.

Despite the many workshops and speeches, I never really understood depression. I understood it as an extreme sadness that doesn't go away. I was told that if you're sad for a little bit, that's normal, but depression is more long term. Still, I didn't understand.

Obviously, everyone has had sad moments in their lives. I didn't understand what differentiated sad and depression. I'm probably lucky for that. Whenever I'm sad, I deal with it. I don't let myself be sad- I always distract myself. Read, tv, put myself into something other than the moment. Later on, when distraction isn't working, I write. I just input whatever is in my head onto paper, and then somehow that clears my mind.

It's like, after I validate my feelings, I can deal with them. It isn't always easy, but I can cope. Because of this, I couldn't believe in always being sad, partly because a large part of me being sad, was guilting myself into ignoring it. I have a great life where I'm extremely sheltered. I know that, but even then, it's hard for me to believe in anything else just because when people talk about horrific things, I have no experience to base it on. It just sounds like a story.

My views toward depression were along the lines that everyone could get better through their own method, whether it be treatment or therapy. Rationally, I knew it was an illness, but I didn't truly understand until I read Allie Brosh's posts on depression.

When I read it, I was in a bad mood and straight up cried because I knew I would be happy and feel better, but some people wouldn't. Depression is terrifying to me because I know it doesn't always reach Brosh's level. Her writing terrified me because on a human basis, I understood.

I have definitely had points where I decided to not care. I've had moments where I look at something I love and wonder why it isn't making me happy. Heck, I've even had people do incredible things for me while all I've been thinking is that I want to leave. Those moods are the worst, especially because I always believed that happiness is a choice, and I could choose to be happy. When I wasn't happy, I felt guilty and mad at myself. The point is, I tried, and eventually I got better, but through writing things down, I realized how bad off I was later on.

Allie Brosh's post taught me that for some people, they just keep feeling down, even when they try to be happy. Happiness isn't a choice- who would ever choose to be unhappy? That was a motto all throughout my preteen years. I was a big Wicked Lovely fan and that was one of the quotes and themes. Maybe I wasn't really experienced enough to truly realize what it meant, but I honestly believed that if I tried hard enough, I would be happy.

Reading about Allie's experiences as she couldn't bring herself around to care just opened my eyes. This is a mental illness. It is based on science in the brain, and no matter how much anyone tries to will themselves out of it, they might not be able to.

Reading Hyperbole and a Half helped me understand truly, or as close as I can get without having real depression, what depression is. Books are powerful that way- they can open eyes and educate. I know today there's probably a lot of things I'm also wrong about, but I can learn. Reading is one way to do that.



What do you think?

Review: Mistress of Rome

Author: Kate Quinn
Date of Publication: April 6, 2010
Pages: 470
Source: Library

An exciting debut: a vivid, richly imagined saga of ancient Rome from a masterful new voice in historical fiction 

Thea is a slave girl from Judaea, passionate, musical, and guarded. Purchased as a toy for the spiteful heiress Lepida Pollia, Thea will become her mistress's rival for the love of Arius the Barbarian, Rome's newest and most savage gladiator. His love brings Thea the first happiness of her life-that is quickly ended when a jealous Lepida tears them apart.

As Lepida goes on to wreak havoc in the life of a new husband and his family, Thea remakes herself as a polished singer for Rome's aristocrats. Unwittingly, she attracts another admirer in the charismatic Emperor of Rome. But Domitian's games have a darker side, and Thea finds herself fighting for both soul and sanity. Many have tried to destroy the Emperor: a vengeful gladiator, an upright senator, a tormented soldier, a Vestal Virgin. But in the end, the life of the brilliant and paranoid Domitian lies in the hands of one woman: the Emperor's mistress.

The best part about reading is that every now and then, one unknowingly delves into a masterpiece. It's exciting, exhilarating and one of the best feelings. That is my experience with Mistress of Rome. It took me several minutes to read one page because I wanted to absorb every word and enjoy every page. It kept me up to the wee hours of the night and excited for the morrow so I could continue reading.

This is an adult historical fiction, a little out of my genre, but it's still really relatable. The main character, Thea starts out as 15 years old and grows as the book progresses, but never so drastically that she leaves the reader behind.

The historical aspect was impeccably written. Kate Quinn obviously researched everything extensively. Her portrayal of Rome was perfect. I can easily imagine the hustle and bustle of the ancient city, the slaves, the nobel ladies in their litters and the common folks. All the historical characters were realistically recreated, especially Domitian. He terrified and fascinated me. Truly a man who saw himself as a Lord and God.

Mistress of Rome also contains multiple narratives, something I'm a little iffy about, but there was nothing iffy about this book. The multiple narratives helped me bond better with some characters and further root for others' demise (cough, Lepida). There is a throng of fantastic characters in this book. Everyone from Senator Marcus Norbanus to the slave Genymede, were so interesting to read about; I shared their pains and victories.

Despite this book being more of an ensemble piece, it did have a spotlight couple, my favourite Thea and Arius the Barbarian. These two were so perfect. They understood each other in a way that others didn't. Their love story was one of the main plot lines, though not the only one. It was beautiful and heartbreaking all at the same time.

Another thing that really stood out to me was the gladiators. Gladiators are one of the most well known figments of Roman history. Arius is a britannic gladiator, the best gladiator. It was really interesting to see the world through Arius' eyes, he is a slave but so many people's hero. Vix, a little slave boy actually wanted to be a gladiator because they were the superstars of the Romans. It was really interesting to read about the riots and graffiti that preceded the games, very similar to today and modern sports. That says something about people.

My review does not do this book enough justice. Just know that when I went out with my family and stopped by Chapters, I bee-lined my way to the adult section so I could sneak in a little bit of reading. To me this was the perfect historical fiction. It had everything I wanted, action, drama, intrigue, romance, politics and gladiators!



What do you think?

Combatting Writer's Block: It's a Mess


I'm trying to write something, but it's not working out. I like when the blog has a mixture of discussion, thoughtful, and review posts, but these days I can't seem to get inspiration for writing anything remotely interesting.

There are ideas I have. I kind of want to write about how I feel like adults have taken over the YA world a little, but the idea isn't fully developed yet. I keep reading my thoughts and saying, "Nope, that's wrong. You can't say that. WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?"

I am definitely my harshest critic.

There was also a post on drama, and how it's not necessary for YA bloggers, but to be honest, the post went "I've never encountered drama, and it's not a requirement of blogging," and it ended right there.

Yuck. So this is a writing exercise that you may or may not see (depending on what Mari thinks). This is me writing out my block.

See, when other people get block, I assume they do something like try to inspire themselves by visiting other blogs, or watching a movie. They may even leave the screen blank in despair. I've tried writing three to four different posts in the past few weeks, and finally, I got sick of it. I refuse to have writing block. So now, it can go away.

I just need a topic that is semi-interesting and that hasn't been covered before. Like.... (Well, if I knew, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Wait. I swear I know this isn't a conversation.)

A normal person would leave the computer when they have clearly nothing of substance to say, but I refuse to do that. I feel like if I get these words out, maybe they can clear up some space for some actual interesting words.

I feel like I'm in limbo. I'm done my summatives, and now I just need to do my exams. I'm learning nothing new in school. Theoretically, we should be studying right now but I don't want to study. I honestly am not terrified over any of these marks. Like, I'm done with these classes. Can I just start new ones already?

And I've sent in my university applications. All that needs to happen is for more schools to accept me. There's a mixture of confidence and absolute despair going on in my head. What if I don't get accepted? What if I do? It's debatable which is scarier.

This post may be one of the stupidest things I've ever written, but guess what: it works. Writing block is something everyone has experienced, and everyone has a theory on. I know there is especially a lot of talk on what to do when you're an author and you have writer's block (which sounds terrifying, because that's your job and writer's block means you're incapable of doing it) so here's how I get through it.

This. I have writer's block when I have a vision, but no understanding of the process. I want so badly to write that perfect post that everyone will enjoy. I want to touch people's hearts. I want to inspire people. I want to make a name for myself.

These desires are almost paralyzing my ability to write, because writing is free flowing and all over the place, and I never really know where my posts are going until they're done. I'm dealing with a lot of stress and guilt because I'm totally procrastinating right now, which is awful because I need high marks for university. Doing a post like this: rambly, with no aim, mostly my opinions with some tenuous link to blogging thrown in helps me because I'm doing exactly what I was scared to do.

I'm allowing myself to write. This post may never be read by anyone, and I'm pretty sure in a month when someone reads it and comments I'll feel pretty bad because a lot can change in a month (or maybe nothing will- Hello, future me!) but the biggest thing in my writing that I need to connect with is me. I want to write honestly, and this, while not structured or polished, is 100% me. Unapologetically.

(Who am I kidding, I'm so sorry I wasted your time on this mess of a post.)

(Mari says pass!)


(Oh, and I hope you guys enjoyed my artistic work. I was too lazy to search for appropriate images so I made my own. Do you like it or should I stick with stock images?)


What do you think?

WoW - Messenger of Fear

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 

Messenger of Fear

September 24, 2014

Mara wakes in a field of dead grass, a heavy mist pressing down on her. She is terrified, afraid that she is dead. Then a beautiful young man dressed in black appears. He calls himself Messenger of Fear.

This boy is able to move effortlessly through space and time. He also sees the darkness in human hearts. He sees the evils done: the destructive lies, the cruelty, the bullying, the violence. And if the world does not bring justice to those who do evil, he will. He offers the wicked a game. If they win, they go free. If they lose, they will live their greatest fear. Either way, their sanity will be challenged.

It is a world of fair but harsh justice. Of retribution and redemption. And mystery. Why was Mara chosen to be the Messenger’s apprentice? What has she done to deserve this terrible fate? She won’t find out until three of the wicked receive justice. And when she does, she will be shattered.

I never did read Michael Grant's Gone series, but I know P.E is a big fan so it must be good. This one look especially good though. I love the idea of a "Messenger of Fear" and how Mara is an apprentice. The game is interesting and mysterious. I just really want to know what all of this is about!

What Are You Waiting On?



What do you think?

Cover Wars: Rain vs. They All Fall Down

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.

They All Fall Down blew the house off Milayna last week by a big margin. As per usual, the champion is back this week to face it's new competitor, Rain by Amanda Sun.

They All Fall Down has an very interesting concept with the girls sitting on the table presumably waiting for dinner to be served and instead have their own heads on the plate. It's very nicely done and the cover definitely matches the title. All in all, it's very interesting and intriguing. 

On the other hands, Rain is very different from They All Fall Down's photo cover. Instead, Rain features a stunning water painting. It's incorporation of a Sakura tree or cherry blossom tree relates with the Japanese setting. It's simple, artistic and refreshing. Also the title typography is very nice.

So, which'll it be? Let the Cover Wars begin!

Vote now!

Which cover should win Cover Wars? free polls 


What do you think?

Review: More Than This

Author: Patrick Ness
Date of Publication: September 10 2013
Pages: 480
Source: Library

A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this. . . .


Before reading More Than This, I read countless reviews praising how unexpected and ambiguous the story was. I have so much appreciation for these bloggers because even if I did go in eventually expecting something weird, I was never spoiled. What happened took me by surprise, and I'm very happy with that.

What I like about More Than This is that it is ambitious and tries to be a layered and important story. There is a very clear theme that I won't spoil, and what's amazing about it is that it addressed important things in a new way. This is a book I'm glad I read because in many ways, I needed to read it. In that sense, I will always have a fondness for More Than This.

The beginning is extremely slow. I recommend people sticking with it because it does pick up, and the story is so creative. There is a lot of ambiguity to the plot and maybe some people don't enjoy that, but I do. Well, in this case, I do. The story is up to the reader to interpret, and I can see English teachers loving this book because there is probably so many literary elements used, like vivid imagery and symbolism.

The writing wasn't really my style because it was written in the present, which I admit makes sense, but it's still a little different to read. It's not in first person either so sometimes there's an air of detachment but that's completely necessary. Confusion is embraced by Patrick Ness and utilized to enhance the story.

If there was one complaint I had, it's that some parts felt a tad unnecessarily long. I realize now maybe why Patrick Ness made those writing decisions, but it's a personal preference as a reader to have an action based plot. This book isn't very action oriented. It's mostly a character development story.

I saw some people say they didn't like the ending because it was too open, but I loved that. This kept the story ambiguous, and reinforced the theme again. I don't need to know everything, but I was comfortable with what happened. The story was left open to the reader to interpret, but it was still very complete. There are definitely questions I have, but I can deal with not knowing the answers. In saying that, I would still love to talk to Patrick Ness one-on-one someday just to see what inspired him to write this kind of story because it was very fascinating. Also, I have a few technical questions.

I know this review covered no specifics, but that's because More Than This is a puzzle for the reader to fit
together. I want you guys to have the full experience. 4 stars.



What do you think?

The Weekly Progress: Adios to March Break

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

UGH SPORTS FAIL. I'm pretty bitter about it too. Okay then. *deep breaths* This week was pretty great. Let's focus on the positive.

Books Read

Well I had a pretty healthy reading week. I got more time, and so naturally I spent a lot of it on books. 

Currently Reading

I'm almost halfway through, and I'm reasonably entertained. 

On the Blog

We started the week with my review for Of Beast and Beauty. A lot of you guys seem to agree with my high opinion of it!

For WoW, Mari picked Skin Deep. It's a pretty interesting choice and I'm curious to see what she thinks of it after she reads it. 

We next discussed what's missing in YA. We got some great recommendations in the comments, so thanks for that!

Mari's next post was about gladiators. Come for ancient Rome! Stay for the hot Kit Harrington gifs. ;)

We ended the week with my review of Allegiant. It was a disappointing read, to say the least. 

I think we had a pretty great week because I had so much time to be around and interact with the blogosphere. Hopefully, I can find a way to make time when schools starts again. 

The Week That Was

Devastating, historic sports collapse notwithstanding, I had a pretty great week. I caught up on TVD (hmmm) watched a little Supernatural (Dean Winchester, I love you) and went a little shopping. Plus, for the highlight of the week, I won a coffee for Roll Up The Rim! #winning

I wasn't too happy with the books I read (I was giving out a lot of 2 stars) but I have hope for the future. I'm also glad to have read a bunch. The Goodreads yearly challenge widget was mocking me for being so behind already. 

Song of the Week

This week, it's all about Matthew Koma. This guy is brilliant. He has the most incredible vocals, and he's great at writing songs too. He just seems like a really great guy, and I think if you don't know who he is, you will. He wrote Clarity, and I totally expect his name to gain recognition. I adore this song, with Showtek & Justin Prime ft. Matthew Koma. This is probably my favourite song to dance to these days. 

Have a great week everyone!



What do you think?

Review: Allegiant

Author: Veronica Roth
Date of Publication: October 22 2013
Pages: 526
Source: Library
Series: Divergent #3

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories. 

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love. 


Allegiant is infamous for the reaction it got. I refused to read any reviews but I heard all about the hate people had for the ending. After writing this review, I'm finally going to go see what other people thought. For now though, here are my thoughts.

It wasn't what I wanted it to be. My problems aren't with the ending. I actually admired the ending. I didn't like the overall story because it was slow and ideologically in some ways it went against what I believe in. Some of this ended up being resolved, but on the other hand an extremely hard decision was made that I can't ever agree with. This plan resulted in a favourable outcome but it still disappoints me that in a book all about choice and human nature, no one really tried that hard to effectuate change through discussion.

Okay, you probably understood nothing of that unless you read Allegiant, but that honestly did bug me.

Beyond that, I felt like the story was slow and not that interesting. I remember just being bored at some point. Everyone was so angsty and I didn't like it. The story just didnt interest me this time. I felt like Divergent was an incredibly interesting story but Insurgent and Allegiant kind of took it in a direction that I'm not that into.

I lacked an emotional connection to Allegiant until the end, and by then I was frustrated. I don't know why but I just never got into the characters. I also found Tobias' POV incredibly random. The whole series had been in Tris' POV and while Tobias' point of view did reveal some important information, I don't like the lack of continuity. Because I was in both Tris and Tobias' heads, I lacked an emotional connection because it made me so very conscious that I was reading the book. Checking who was narrating was also a little irritating. There is one part at the end that I thought this was very useful for. In some ways, this increased the emotional impact.

There were moments and passages that were very well written. Some parts were profound in a very resonating way, so there was definitely maturity to the story. I can't help but wish there was more of this. Allegiant didn't go into that much depth on the world and honestly, it needed to. I'm a big believer in human nature and I couldn't believe in the plausibility of this world. I suppose you could argue that Divergent wasn't that plausible either, but I think that's a matter of perception. Divergent was a fun fantasy, while Allegiant really emphasized how much of a dystopia it was.

The explanation was just underwhelming. There were points of action that were too brief, and the world building or characters weren't enough to attract my attention. I'm pretty disappointed in how the series ended, and Divergent is by far the best of the books, in my opinion.

Now, in regards to the ending, I had no problem with it. Maybe this speaks to how little connection I felt to the story, but I liked that Roth did something realistic. I don't know why people are angry. I feel like the ending was done well. I just wish that it wasn't the biggest event of the story. That might be the most definitive part to Allegiant and that's frankly disappointing.

Overall, I thought Allegiant was slow with minimal world building. Th characters didn't interest me and there was very little suspense built up. I had no problem with the ending. It was a pretty meh read, so I'm giving it 2 stars.



What do you think?