Guest Post: Why I Like the YA Genre

Guest post by author, Sherry Soule






Today author, Sherry Soule has some exciting news to share with us! She will be publishing a brand new Upper YA / Sci-Fi Romance series: the “Starlight Saga” with scorching-hot character chemistry, exciting suspense, and epic romance on June 26, 2014.

To help promote this amazing interstellar love story, “LOST IN STARLIGHT,” Sherry is doing this guest post to share the news with fellow bibliophiles.

Hi everybody, I’m author, Sherry Soule—waving from the SF Bay Area. Thanks for letting me visit today, it’s an honor to be a guest here and meet fellow book lovers.

Since I was a child, I recognized that books were a way to travel to other places and have incredible adventures. Even though I am older (you’re NEVER too old to read young adult novels, in my opinion) than the average teen reader, I’ve always loved reading Young Adult literature.

I think I love reading YA Lit because I think that most novels in this genre are fast-paced and thrilling, and the stories are written in a style that is engrossing, with story-driven or character-driven plot lines with lots of first love. I also adore that there are so many books created into a series nowadays, so that you can continue to have additional adventures with your favorite characters.

Could my love of YA Lit be simply because I’m still stuck at age sixteen, just a teenager-at-heart in disguise?

Could be. And like many of you, I’ve read hundreds of YA books and I can actually say that I enjoyed them all. Some I genuinely loved and these books became like good friends that I didn’t want to part with, so they adorn my bookshelves and wait patiently to be reread again one day. Other novels were simply read and then disregarded with a contented smile.


And you know what? I am NEVER embarrassed to buy YA novels (although, I buy most of my books online through Amazon) in bookstores, or carry them around with me. I love the genre and always have and always will.

Of course, I realize that we all have diverse tastes in literature. Most of you will have varied genres that you love to read, and probably some of my favorite books are simply your forgotten reads. That is what makes the world of YA Lit, and reading as a whole, so fascinating. Each one of us will enjoy different types of characters, plots, and of course, a writer’s voice, the way only they can tell a story.

At its core my new novel, LOST IN STARLIGHT is basically a love story about two lonely hearts finding each other and how their star-crossed relationship changes both of their lives. And I don’t know about you, but I need some romance in almost every book I read. Even in YA! And if you’re a hopeless romantic at heart, then you’ll enjoy reading my new book.

Thus, LOST IN STARLIGHT is the first book that I’ve ever written that focuses heavily on romance more than any paranormal baddies trying to kill the heroine or having the plot center around a supernatural mystery to solve. And I think the heroine of my new series, Sloane, is rather unique. To me, she’s not your average “Mary Sue” or flawless hero. She’s chubby and has some self-esteem issues, but she’s also headstrong and gutsy, with an eccentric fashion sense.

Thank you for letting me chat about my love of young adult literature. I hope you enjoyed this post. Now go feed your mind and read a book! Preferably one of mine. :-D

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Please mark your calendars to buy your copy of LOST IN STARLIGHT on June 26th 2014!
Read the first five chapters for free on wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/story/14214838-lost-in-starlight-syfy-romance
 

VOLUME ONE of the Starlight Saga



High school reporter Sloane Masterson knows she has one helluva story when she witnesses hottie Hayden Lancaster bending forks with his mind.

Like any good journalist, Sloane sets out to uncover the truth, even if it includes a little stalking. When the superhuman feats start to pile up and the undeniable heat rises between them, Hayden has no choice but to reveal his secret: he’s an alien hybrid.

They’re as different as night and day—she’s a curvy, purple-haired, horror junkie and he’s a smoking hot, antisocial, brainiac—yet the intense fascination between them refuses to go away. Even at Hayden’s insistence that dating each other is “off limits” and crazy dangerous, their fiery attraction threatens to go supernova.

Now Sloane’s dealing with creepy government agents, über snobby extraterrestrials, and a psycho alien ex-girlfriend out for revenge. After a crash course on the rules of interstellar dating, Sloane must decide if their star-crossed romance is worth risking her own life....


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About Sherry Soule

Sherry Soule lives with her family and one very spoiled black cat in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the bestselling author of the adult novel, “Immortal Eclipse” and the popular YA series: Spellbound. Sherry writes thrilling tales of romance and suspense, often mingled with a dash of the mystical and a splash of trendy fashion. Her love of literature began when she was a young girl and it has continued throughout her life.
Her published novels do not include any graphic sex scenes or explicit violence, nor excessive profanity, so that all of her novels can be read and enjoyed by both teens and adults.
Sherry’s debut novel, “Beautifully Broken” was nominated for Best Paranormal Romance in the 2011 Wizard and Witch/Sorcery category by The Romance Reviews (TRR). Her adult novel, “Immortal Eclipse” is a *TOP PICK* by Night Owl Reviews.

Places you can find Sherry Soule:

Twitter @SherrySoule: http://twitter.com/SherrySoule
Please add LOST IN STARLIGHT to your TBR on goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20707942-lost-to-starlight
The awesome book cover was designed by the talented, Kristen Thompson-Oh of KCT Designs at www.kctdesigns.com
Eager to read the first five chapters on your Kindle? FREE every Friday from Amazon: http://amzn.to/1hdo6Oh

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Is it possible to read too much?

Your eyes are deceiving you. That's totally an octagon.
I was reading a post about reading slumps when I started to wonder about the opposite of a reading slump, and something I'm currently experiencing: when you want to devour every book. When you want life to just STAHP so you can go and read your book.

I think this always happens to some extent, but to me, I'm starting to notice some trends. When I read in the mornings on my commute to school, it makes me quiet and pensive. I'm a little foggy because my mind is still in the book. I tend to read in class too, which my teachers tend to um, discourage.

When I don't read, it's because I'm listening to music. When I listen to music, I become energetic. If I hear a song, I have to move. It's a compulsion within me to move. While reading makes me retreat into a world of me, listening to music means my eyes are free to explore the world around me, and I'm usually in a great mood.

I'm not saying that reading is bad. But I do wonder if sometimes, it's important to step back.

When I'm in a reading obsession (that's what I'll call it), I have a "Go away, I'm reading!" vibe and I find it supremely irritating when someone or something interrupts my reading time. I hate every moment I'm away from my book, and at the end of the day, everything will fade away except for my book. I won't be able to recall anything of significance that occurred to me that day because I was reading.

Some wouldn't say this is a bad thing, but then, there is some context to me.

First, I was brought up with my parents both telling me I read too much. I guess I retreated too often to my room to read, and I guess at some point I kind of developed a terrible fear of missing out on life. I don't want to grow old and not have any amazing stories to tell. I don't want to be known for reading: I want to be known for doing.

There's nothing wrong with reading. I think I love it too much, and one fundamental part of my personality is that I lean towards idealism in that I will always try to have it all: I will want the grades, the social life, the books, the healthy food, the physical fitness, everything.

Reading genuinely brings me pleasure, but there's also a part of me that has grown from when I was a kid and that is terrified when I tell people to go away, I'm reading. This part of me demands that I broaden my interests. Because when you love something too much, it can also hurt you too much.

When I was a kid, going on a reading slump sucked majorly. I didn't want to read and I suddenly didn't know what to do with myself. For aforementioned reasons, doing nothing terrified me. So, the biggest thing I've done since then is diversify myself. Nothing is ever going to be my everything. I'm always trying to explore different parts of me and life, so if some part of it is bad, I have something else to look forward to.


I know that not everyone commits like me. When I love something, I throw myself at it 100% and that has a tendency not to work out. It's perfectly reasonable that this post won't make sense to some people. But for me, sometimes, I stop myself from reading too much because as much as I love being a bookworm, I try to remember that I'm human, not some book devouring machine, and I need to explore other areas of my life as well.

-P.E.

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Review: Champion

Author: Marie Lu
Date of Publication: November 5 2013
Pages: 369
Source: Library e-book
Series: Legend #3

There *are* spoilers for Legend and Prodigy in this review.

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps-Elect, while Day has been assigned a high-level military position. 

But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them: just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything. 


I flew through Champion, which was one of the most aching finales I've ever read. My heart broke and was mended again by these characters, and the ending was phenomenal.

Champion is one of those series finales that isn't its own story, but is more like a climax and conclusion to the entire series. There is absolutely no problem with that, but I think it's good to get a quick refresher of what occurred in Legend and Prodigy before reading Champion. I was super excited to see that the series has a Wikipedia page with detailed synopsis that I used to remind myself of what happened.

Champion was a surprisingly emotional story. I thought the writing was beautiful and mature, although I wish I didn't cry so much. June and Day have grown up so much from when they first met, and Champion explores what happens to their relationship with Day with an illness, and June a Princeps-Elect.  The story is a melange of war, ethics, and politics, and that's pretty much the type of story I love.

The Republic and the Colonies are still in an interminable chess match and Anden's new position as Elector isn't going to come without some obstacles. Day and June are both young, but they are also very powerful. They know what they're capable of, and they're both major factors in protecting the Republic.

There is also a fair bit of world building. The world beyond the Republic is mentioned, and I found it interesting to read about the United Nations and other superpowers. There was even a one page mention of Canada, which is something I an always ridiculously excited about.

The plot has as many action scenes as ever, but I think contrary to previous books, I enjoyed the character building scenes the most. Day and June have so much chemistry and it was clear that they truly love each other. Their relationship had its issues, but I enjoyed reading about them because they are a formidable team. Both characters have lost so much and have suffered so much, and ultimately, what happened in the end, even if it did hurt, made sense. What's right isn't always what's easy and I guess I have a lot of respect for both characters.

Champion was a great conclusion, and it didn't disappoint me. I'm satisfied with what happened, and I think that's all you can ask from a series. 5 stars, but more of a 4.5 for doing everything right. I guess the .5 left is because I felt like Champion was awesome, and definitely well done, except it missed the extra wow factor. Still, much more than a 4 star book. So rounding up to 5!


-P.E.

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WoW - Curses and Smoke


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

Curses and Smoke

May 27, 2014

When your world blows apart, what will you hold onto?

TAG is a medical slave, doomed to spend his life healing his master's injured gladiators. But his warrior's heart yearns to fight in the gladiator ring himself and earn enough money to win his freedom.

LUCIA is the daughter of Tag's owner, doomed by her father's greed to marry a much older Roman man. But she loves studying the natural world around her home in Pompeii, and lately she's been noticing some odd occurrences in the landscape: small lakes disappearing; a sulfurous smell in the air. . . .

When the two childhood friends reconnect, each with their own longings, they fall passionately in love. But as they plot their escape from the city, a patrician fighter reveals his own plans for them -- to Lucia's father, who imprisons Tag as punishment. Then an earthquake shakes Pompeii, in the first sign of the chaos to come. Will they be able to find each other again before the volcano destroys their whole world?

Ok so this one may have come out yesterday but since it isn't available for my to access I'm counting it as a book I'm waiting on.

I was first introduced to this one by my P.E. who knows that this is right up my ally. I adore history and Rome especially the story of Pompeii. I watched the movie Pompeii and loved it and then read books about gladiators and whined a little about the lack of gladiators in YA. It seems likeCur someone heard and here is my answer. I cannot wait to read it!

What Are You Waiting On?

-MARI 

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Cover Wars: This Shattered World vs. Winterspell


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.

Winterspell has been on a winning rampage for the last few rounds. This week it's facing the sequel of a #CoverWars favourite. This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner.


Both covers are stunning in similar ways. They both have great typography... different, but they match the books they're meant for. It's good to see a girl that isn't in a dress for once. In fact, it looks like she is partially ready for space travel. Add in a space suit and all set! The backgrounds of the two books is what make these covers. The colours and sparkling stars in This Shattered World promise a stunning hard copy and the smoky lilac colour of Winterspell is just short of breathtaking.

As always, you have a week to vote! 

Let the Cover Wars begin!

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

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Top 5: Book Trailers


I’m really a lazy person, I'm not sure how my hobby turned out to be reading which requires a lot of brain juice, but somehow it did and I’m not a lazy reader however this isn't the case my reading material is a synopsis.Yes I know most synopsis’ are only a couple of paragraphs long but my eyes start skimming and then they roll up and I’m out.

There is no background music, no slicing sound effects or popping images to get me excited. Of course most of the time the words are more than enough but periodically I’m in the mood for more. 

Enter book trailers. I do think that books have gotten the shorter end of the trailer budget but this isn’t a fact that extends to all books. There are some golden book trailers what got me reading or at least wanting to read.

The Clockwork Angel



This one obviously had one of the bigger budgets because of the popularity of the series and Cassandra Clare. I personally adore this trailer. Book trailer actors are not my favourite but this cast actually looked like Tessa, Will and Jem. I’m glad to see that they went through the the trouble of even colouring Jem’s hair grey. The music is fantastic, it’s exciting, gripping and goes really well with the words being spoken.

The 5th Wave



This one left me breathless in the end. Well made, great acting, awesome camera angles. It was like getting a real peak into the books pages.

Perfect Chemistry



This is one of the book trailers I’ve watched repeatedly over the last few years. It’s just hilarious. It’s funny, addicting and kind of an inside joke if you’ve read the book. This one drives the point that books aren’t movies, they don’t necessarily have to be presented the same way. This awesome music video idea is memorable and fun.

The Winners Curse



Of course not all books have the same budget and so there are many trailers without actors and scripts. I personally don’t feel that those are necessary; The Winner’s Curse has a fantastic trailer. It made me excited and desiring to read the book, which is the ultimate goal.

Where She Went

I had given up on If I Stay until I watched this trailer. BEWARE: this is a trailer of the second book in a series and it has SPOILERS.


I love Adam’s voice and lines; well said and written. It pulls at my heart strings and the images in the background do a great job at filling up the background and relating to the book.

What do you think about book trailers? Which is your favourite?

-MARI

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The Weekly Progress: That Was Fun 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.

This week was awesome. Monday was Victoria Day, so no school, and Friday was a field trip to Montreal so it was pretty much a three day school week. And I really don't mind those! Anyway, I had lots of fun seeing family and exploring Montreal, and I kind of wish more weeks were like this. 

Books Read


Last Saturday I read Sophie's World and Champion. This week I finished Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Mass. I wasn't a fan of Throne of Glass, but I gave the series another shot after reading so many positive reviews of Crown of Midnight. I think the ending of Crown of Midnight really fixed a lot of the issues I had with both books, and now I'm planning on reading the rest of the series. 

Currently Reading


Contemporary alert! So far, I haven't been able to really relate with the main character nor is the story page turning, but I'm not that far in and expect the story to pick up. 

On the Blog

I FINALLY finished Sophie's World and reviewed it. 

I'm really glad I'm good at online shopping because otherwise it would be embarrassing that I suck so much at real life shopping and still haven't bought a prom dress

This next post is one of my "babies", you know, the posts you actually like and are proud of. It began with me ranting as per usual about why authors shouldn't tell readers how to read.


And if you're curious to see what I thought of Sophie's World less than halfway through when the prospect of finishing the book seemed impossible, here is my post!

I don't think Mari nor I have been very good bloggers lately. We're behind on posts, we haven't been reading much, we're scrambly. Good thing is that we're starting to pick it up and I've read more, so I've reviewed more, and we're in the process of writing some discussion posts. I need a new idea for a ranty/long post, so let me know if there are any topics you'd like us to cover in the comments!

The Week That Was

It's always nice to see family you haven't seen in a while. My family is not very close, so I'm always surprised at how much I enjoy seeing my aunts and cousins. It just feels safe, y'know?

Okay, enough of the sentimental stuff. Montreal is such a cool city! I think the city is really good at putting beauty into small spaces. On the walls, in parks, in the metro, there are so many pieces of artwork and I love this kind of urban design. It's putting a little beauty into a random wall that I love because it's thoughtful. Also, cool buildings everywhere!

Song of the Week

We've talked about my love of classic style vocals, right? No wonder I love this song. The chorus is really the part that I love, and I love the very relaxed vibe. It's very easy to listen to, and I have to say, I love the buildups. It's another Avicii song that I didn't love right away, but that grew on me. 



Hope you guys all have a great week!

-P.E.

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Review: Sophie's World


Author: Jostein Gaardner
Date of Publication: 1991 (whoa!)
Pages: 403
Source: Borrowed

A page-turning novel that is also an exploration of the great philosophical concepts of Western thought, Sophie’s World has fired the imagination of readers all over the world, with more than twenty million copies in print.

One day fourteen-year-old Sophie Amundsen comes home from school to find in her mailbox two notes, with one question on each: “Who are you?” and “Where does the world come from?” From that irresistible beginning, Sophie becomes obsessed with questions that take her far beyond what she knows of her Norwegian village. Through those letters, she enrolls in a kind of correspondence course, covering Socrates to Sartre, with a mysterious philosopher, while receiving letters addressed to another girl. Who is Hilde? And why does her mail keep turning up? To unravel this riddle, Sophie must use the philosophy she is learning—but the truth turns out to be far more complicated than she could have imagined.

Review:

It's fitting that I'm sitting here, inside, on a bench at the intersection of the mall and the bus stop, as I finish Sophie's World. I'm waiting for the eternally late Mari, and I've had a weird day and I will be having a weird weekend, and I am obviously in the perfect mood for such a book.

Sophie's World is another book I needed to read, even if it wasn't something I wanted to do. I've already written about how I'm a dreamer, and how I tend to over think. I also wrote already of my impressions of Sophie's World some hundred pages into it. I was bored. I was learning, but not that into it.

I wasn't entertained. But, I think that the things I learned in Sophie's World are exactly what I needed to know. I want to know about the world. People and humanity fascinate me. Sophie's World may have proclaimed itself to be a book about the history of philosophy, but while reading the book I realized that it's also the history of humanity. Sophie's World is about all the big ideas humans all throughout the ages have pondered and answered.

It covers science, math, space, psychology. Philosophy is important in every aspect of life, and its critical thinking skills have developed the society we know today. Sophie's World is so jam packed with knowledge that I know I probably didn't absorb even a third of it all, except now I can say I have a better general knowledge of the world.

Sophie's World is a great introduction to philosophy because it simplifies everything and explains it in clear terms. A few pages are spent describing each major philosopher and their major ideas, and it's really a sampling of history. The main ideas are presented and thoughtful, but I think what was also cool was that it gives a basis if you're more interested in certain ideas. Personally, I find Epicurus, Kant, and Sartre's ideas fascinating, as well as the scientific bits about the universe and the political parts about the fundamental flaw of capitalism.

I know this book is a bestseller and what I don't understand is why we're not reading Sophie's World in school. I learned more about the history of the world in Sophie's World than I ever did in history class. I even prefer this to my philosophy textbook (and class) because it's so compact and full of only the main ideas.

I guess the thing to remember when reading Sophie's World is to take it slow. Try to absorb it. Also, the ending is so strange and I don't even know what to think about it. I'm looking forward to talking to my accounting teacher, who recommended this book to me and see what he thought. Sophie's World is a great book to discuss, and I think it's worth a read for anyone looking to learn something from what they're reading, especially if you're looking for an intro to philosophy or general world history.

-P.E.

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Prom Dress Drooling with P.E.

Okay, so Mari already took the bookish out of the post I had in mind. No worries right? Prom is around the corner and I still don't have a dress. So let me tell you, I like to think I have a great sense of style. I've always wanted to do a fashion post, and I thought, oh, why the hell not, right? So, here is my collection of favourite dresses from fashion. Oh, and these are all runway dresses, as far as I know. I spent a lot of time browsing each designer's website and picking favourites. I enjoyed every second of it.

First, I'm starting with this.


This is one of my favourite looks of ALL TIME. Seriously, when I imagine beauty, elegance, confidence, this is the image I have in my mind. I love how underrate gorgeous the dress is. I love the lipstick and the hair style. I love the pose. This is pretty much my inspiration when looking at prom dresses. Finding something that makes me feel as gorgeous and elegant as Angelina Jolie looks in this dress. 

VERSACE- ATELIER

First, I can't afford any of these dresses. This is more of me just drooling over pretty dresses. 

I noticed Versace's Atelier collection after I stalked their Twitter feed randomly. I noticed a liked a lot of their dresses from the Atelier collection. Here's one from the spring 2014 collection that I adore. 


I love sheer fabrics and patterns, and I feel like I love the cut of this one. I don't if it's something I would ever feel comfortable wearing, but I think it's stunning. 


I love this dress! It's long and so intricate as well. It's shiny, which I don't always like, but it seems like the pattern is done tastefully. There is a lot of skin showing, but also hidden. It's my favourite from the fall 2013 Atelier line. 

Vera Wang 


I love this. Gold is one of my favourite colours this year for prom, and a dress like this wouldn't be very common. It's sleek and I like the whole look. 

Valentino

From the Shanghai collection, this one. 


It looks very modern and I feel like it's a dress that you can wear really dramatically with. 


Have we talked about how much I adore flowy, lacy, sheer stuff? Well, you should know this because I will probably post a lot of stuff in that style. 


I love the fabric designs. Seriously, if you look really closely, you can see how intricate the design is. Either way, it's stunning. I love a lot of this collection because there's a lot of lacy dresses, and it's all focused on my favourite colour: red.

Oscar de la Renta

A lot of the dresses from their spring collection were very pretty, but not the look I want for prom. And this is the last dress in the collection and wowww I want it. It's yellow and lacy and pretty and I think it would totally work for prom. Or the Oscars. 




Anyway, this was some awesome procrastination! What style do you like these days? What did you wear for prom? Or, what will you wear for prom? Link me your picks in the comments!


-P.E.



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Don't Tell Readers How to Read

I've been reading a lot lately about how if you go into books and look for flaws, you'll find them.

Well, duh.

The implication seems to be that's not the way to do things. That reading shouldn't be something critical you do. In some ways, I have absolutely no objection to that line of thought. In other ways though, I wholeheartedly rebel against someone telling ME how to read a book.

It doesn't matter if you're an author, another reviewer, a publisher, whomever. What I want to make very clear is that books are art, sure. They're also products. Products that as a consumer, I have the right to enjoy in any way I wish.



The book world is adorable because there's this community aspect to it. There doesn't seem to be very much thought that books are an industry. A formerly lucrative industry struggling to regain ground. Publishers aren't charities, or art curators: they're looking for books they believe will be enjoyed by the widest audience.

I guess my main problem is that books are like tv, they're like music, they're media products for consumers. They're also art. Yet, when it comes to criticism, it seems like the book world doesn't deal with it like the music industry.

For example, I will tell you without a doubt that I despise the song Timber. Like, every time it goes on the radio, I turn it off. I can't tell you why I don't like it- I just feel like it's generally a trashy song. I don't like the chorus, and I have a ridiculous disdain for Pitbull. And, if I tweeted, "Timber is SO TRASHY. #notforme", I doubt there would be much commotion. I feel free to express my opinions on music, on websites (check out all the tweets I send Twitter about how AWFUL their interface is becoming) and there are several tv shows I will easily call awful. (Check out most TV shows on Family, or Disney for you Americans).



I don't feel comfortable doing the same to books. I feel like no, you can't go out and just say this book sucks. In fact, I make a point to never do that. I feel like my negative reviews have a lot of disclaimers: "this is just my opinion... others could enjoy it". But why? Obviously, it's not because I'm the type of person incapable of criticizing. I do that pretty comfortably when it comes to tv and music.

Maybe part of it is that I adore books and want more people to read. I encourage reading, and I feel a little responsible to help grow books in the world. It seems sometimes like reading is a niche thing that I should help grow. Like I'll offend my fellow bookworms if I don't frame everything completely subjectively, and make it clear that my negative opinion isn't really that valid.

And this is something I feel strongly about: my opinion means nothing. There are some general standards to quality, but books are something so subjective that something I despise, can be adored by thousands of people. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Because, once again, people are going to experience different products differently. There's no evil intent to not like a book; you can't help it..

So, I guess we can say it's a pet peeve of mine when I go on Twitter and see posts saying stuff like, it's easy to criticize if you're looking for stuff to criticize. Call it one of the downfalls of reviewing, but I'm now extremely aware of characters and plots. I can call out stuff that I don't like, and I have every right to do so because I truly believe my opinion is worth absolute shit to anybody other than myself. If someone looks at my review and thinks that it's valid, and it can be helpful to them, that's awesome. I love that, except I feel like it goes without saying that you never know unless you try.

It's just so irritating to see on Twitter sometimes, some authors complaining about reviewers (this post was written months ago, don't ask, I probably forgot who) not enjoying their books by saying they didn't "get it". Like somehow, the reviewer should change themselves to enjoy the book better; they weren't the right audience, so they have to consider what their audience would have thought whilst reviewing.
I don't know who made this and I've seen it everywhere. It's brilliant.

I completely disagree with that idea. My brain works a certain way. Your brain works a certain way. Neither of us will ever know the full extent of these differences because we will never inhabit the others' brain. That means that I can not review a book for anybody other than myself. My opinion is absolutely valid for me writing the review, but beyond that, I don't assign any value to my opinion.

There is no wrong way to write a review, and although there are some preferable ways (don't be a jerk, try to be cool), I think it's super duper important to remember that there is no right way to read a book, and either way, once an author writes a story, it is out into the world where the story will have to hold its own. And, I guess you can say that "the customer is always right" and that's certainly true because to yourself, your opinion has weight. Now, whether an opinion matters to other people is something more debatable. Either way,  I would very much like it if I stopped seeing people being criticized for a) having opinions and b) expressing opinions c) being told their opinion isn't all that valid (duh).

Now, on to the disclaimer ;)

This is my opinion. I'm allowed to have my opinion and express it. I don't even think my own opinion is valid most of the time, but I'd love to hear your thoughts for why you agree/disagree with what I wrote. Also, writing this made me feel like a conservative, which is ridiculous because I consider myself very leftist. 

-P.E.

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WoW - Talon



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

Talon

October 28, 2014

Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

I'm a big fan of dragons which is what led me to read Sophie Jordan's Firelight series but sadly that series didn't suit my tastes. I've heard great things about Julie Kagawa and I know many people love her writing and her books, soI'm hoping that this will be the book that will finally get to fall in love with her work. We will see.

What Are You Waiting On?

-MARI 

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Cover Wars: Earthbound vs. Winterspell

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.

Winterspell managed to win a very hard-fought battle against Deliverance, and this week, it's up against another cool cover. Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike!


There are some similarities to both covers. First, the use of white. It's very cleanly done, and it's obvious a minimalist look is desired because both covers have distinctive fonts that are thin and elegant. Winterspell actually has a model on the cover who's face we can see (and she has pretty great hair, imo, reminds me of Emma Watson!) whereas Earthbound surprisingly isn't bound to the Earth, and has a couple on the clouds. I like the style of both, and now it's up to see which cover you prefer!

As always, you have a week to vote! 

Let the Cover Wars begin!




Which cover should win Cover Wars?
  
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Reading Update: Sophie's World (& Why I Like Philosophy)

I don't usually do reading updates, but it's been about three weeks of me reading Sophie's World by Jostein Gaardner, and since I only read one book at a time, TSC has lacked some book related content. I've read 180 pages of Sophie's World.

Sophie's World is one of those books that I would never pick up on my own, but I would absolutely read if someone recommended it to me. In fact, that is the reason I am currently reading it. My accounting teacher recommended it. I want to be an intelligent, well learned person. I like philosophy. These two postulates should mean that Sophie's World is right up my alley.

In a way, it is. I enjoy Sophie's World in the sense that I find philosophy and history supremely fascinating. I love looking at the academics and society's of the past and seeing how humanity has developed. Reading about people's ideas of the world, and they reached their conclusions is fun. It's also so cool to see how these people have currently influenced society, or basically how they dealt with life.

I particularly love this Epicurus quote: "Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist." 

I think that's really what attracts me to philosophy. It's absolutely relevant in life, because it's about life. Often, there is no clear answer, and as Gaardner writes early on, some people just don't look at the world like that. Some people just accept the world as it is, and I guess I can't. I want to know more. I don't want to live a passive life, and I feel like philosophy is important because it allows you to think and question and wonder.

I'm currently taking a philosophy course so I'm obviously the right sort of person for Sophie's World. The story itself is very strange thus far. Sophie has been receiving letters and postcards from a mysterious someone that wants to teach her philosophy. Sophie is fourteen and not opposed to trying something new out, and so she decides to do as the mysterious letter sender says. Often, she receives blank pages with questions, and most of the beginning of Sophie's World is Sophie reading about the pre-Socratics, the great Greek philosophers, the beginning of Christianity, and now I've gotten to the part about the Renaissance. 

I feel like Sophie's World has taught me a lot about philosophy. I can read the questions myself and answer them to myself, and then I'll read Sophie's opinion, and then the philosophy teacher's opinion. It's very readable, if not long. The writing is accessible, and if you don't mind nonfiction, I'm sure Sophie's World will fly by. 

I'm a YA reader, and I also don't challenge myself when it comes to reading very often so staying committed to pages and pages on Neoplatonism, Heraclitus and St. Augustine requires more discipline than I can muster sometimes. Needless to say, Sophie's World is completely different from YA. 

The really interesting thing about Sophie's World is that the plot is crawling. Someone used the term "page-turning" to describe the book, and that is absolutely not my experience. There is the mystery of who is sending the letters, and other mysterious items Sophie is receiving, and now I'm getting into the part of the book where it seems like a deeper story is being revealed. 

Still, I've noticed the story for me is dry so I try to make it more fun by imagining weird things. And as all philosophers do, I have two theories on Sophie's World. Don't worry, as far as I know, these aren't spoilers: 

  1. The entire story is an enormous hallucination. Sophie is not Sophie: she is Hilde (someone else that is often mentioned) and in a Shutter Island-esque plot twist.
  2.  Sophie is in a coma looking for reasons to live again. 

I mean, Sophie is ridiculous: she makes some incredibly unreasonable decisions to meet strange people and go places without alerting her parents. Furthermore, Sophie's life is very one-dimensional. It is so typical that only Sophie "gets" philosophy (her mom thinks it's like a drug!) and because this book has been so praised, I'm assuming this is all done on purpose. 

I guess I'll see!

-P.E.


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Discussion: Different Tastes



A discussion between Mari and P.E.

Lets face it: we all have some very unique tastes. They were formed through years of experiences and they dictate how we feel about many things. Books are one of them. I find that most of my friends aren't too picky and I can easily recommend popular books to them and know that they will enjoy them. However, I'm not one of those people.  I don't take recommendations well because I'm a moody and a picky read and I think I've found my match in P.E. who is less picky, more moody and "little miss critical" coming straight from her french teachers mouth! 

That's preposterous. I have no recollection of being called that by my french teacher. Also, I thought I was more picky than Mari, but I think she's just irritated that I haven't enjoyed her recs as much as she enjoys mine (so far I've rec'd Hyperbole and a Half and Finnikin of the Rock).

Taste is possibly the biggest thing I've learned from blogging. Everything is so incredibly subjective. I can see a cover like Red Rising and absolutely drool over how pretty it is, and I'll show it to someone else and they won't be impressed. Furthermore, they'll show me some prototypical adult high fantasy cover and I'll think it's awful, and they'll call it a masterpiece. People like different things. Mari's right that I'm moody, because my appreciation of books sometimes depends on my surroundings. Although, I would argue that a truly good book can be enjoyed regardless of circumstances. (This is another plug for Red Rising because I was pretty much devastated because my favourite team collapsed again to their biggest rivals, I was cold, I wasn't home, and the food I ate sucked, and somehow this book made me forget all of that because it was so amazing.)

I'm not irritated... just a little sad because I can't share their epicness with you. There is a big feeling of excitement when your friend picks up a book you really loved and you kind of count down the time until they text you and affirm your feelings. When that text doesn't come it's kind of disappointing but that's ok. There are more books to make them read mwahaha. I shall win one day. 

I guess the thing about different tastes is that I don't see it as a competition. I want you to win. I want you to recommend me a book that I adore so I can fangirl about it with you. (You already know my thoughts on fangirling alone lol.) It's kind of beautiful that everyone can like different things, but it's so heartbreaking when you can't share something you truly enjoy with a friend. I guess that's why the internet exists- so you can always find somebody that understands your fandom. 

Agreed.


What do you think? Is it sometimes hard when you recommend a book and a friend doesn't like it? How do you deal with it?

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YA Prom Dress Shopping

As seniors in high school, P.E. and I will both be attending prom this year. As a result, there hasn't been a day that I haven't been fussing over my dress. I've stalked  the internet dry and now believe that I have a general idea of what I want. All that's is left is finding and acquiring the dress.

Unlike me, some of these YA protagonist seem to have that covered. The gorgeous dress theme is not a new one, but every now and then there are covers that exhibit some dresses that make it hard for us to keep our jaws from hitting the floor.

Roses are Red




These big and bright dresses are nothing short of show stoppers. The dress offered in Rumor is more about the effect of the red colour but The Girl in the Steel Corset spices up the red with a corset and a designed tail. The reds come to a finish with this years contribution to the list of otherworldly dresses. The Winner's Curse has a dress only a prom queen can where.

The Storm is Brewing





There is nothing like a gorgeous blue/green dress. The stormy blue dress of Across A Star-Swept Sea is obscured by the tides but it managed to bedazzle us anyway. 

Goddess sure doesn't have a contemporary prom dress style but there is an outfit to suit everyone. This one is perfect for those with an appreciation for the vintage. 

These Broken Stars features not a dress, but a gown, one fairly belonging to the daughter of the richest man in the universe. I adore the flowy detailing and emerald green colour.

A Dazzling Shade of White



I've adored Entwined's dress of years now. It is the dress ever girl wants to wear as she heads towards her castle.

The Vixen, takes us back to the 20s with it's gorgeous lace fit dress. This style has returned to fashion with the Royal Wedding and Kate's stunning gown. It's a perfect classical choice.

Lastly, we have the ultimate white dress. Not only is it enormous and hard to ignore, but it's detailed and delicate at the same time; a breath taker.

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Now for the fun part. I want to end this post with a competition. The Ultimate Fantasy Ball Gown contest. Winner gets a lot of love. 

I'll start the voting with my choice, it's tough but I think The Winner's Curse wins it for me.

-MARI

Which is Your Fantasy Gown? 


The Ultimate Fantasy Ball Gown.
  
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Review: The Winner's Curse

Author: Marie Rutkoski
Date of Publication: March 4, 2014
Pages: 355
Source: Library

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. 

Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.


Review:

This whole book is one beautifully formulated and devious game; a Winner’s Curse. 

Themes are an integral part of all stories, but it is not often that they are done well, though most are on par. The Winner’s Curse took this to another level. The theme was the story, it was a web woven into the plot and the web grew larger and more clear as the book advanced. 

Marie Rutkoski has created a vivid and contagious new world in this book. It’s a familiar world, one of conquests, hierarchies, and societal gatherings. It is a world very close to what ours has been like in the past millennium. 

The focal point of the world however, was the history between the Valarians, Herrani, and the rest of the known world. I was fascinated to read about the people and their contrasting outlooks on life and each other. This was made more interesting due to our main characters who came from diverging factions: one, a Valarian highborn, and the other a conquered Herrani slave.

Kestrel, our protagonist, was a treat. She was so intelligent and quick-witted, nothing like the high society ladies she associated with, though there weren't many. 

I especially appreciated her courage to stand up for herself. In her society, a woman has two options, marry or enlist and as the daughter of the decorated General Trajan, she knows what is expected of her. However, she can’t help but wonder why there can’t be a third or even fourth option. I related to this because we all have expectations placed upon us in life and there are times when we wonder if there are other possibilities. 

The only shortcoming occurred in the second half of the book, when I felt Kestrel loitered in her indecisiveness. She lost me for a bit, I wasn’t sure what she was thinking despite being in her head the whole time.

Arin was the perfect match for Kestrel’s genius. Both characters are keen and perceptive. He managed to match her when other men couldn't, despite his inferior rank. The struggle to maintain a friendship despite society's perceptions and their own inner misgivings and mistrust was another interesting twist.

The bulk of the book is set in Herran, the conquered city that used to be a centre of arts, now subdued and run by the militaristic Valarians with its citizens enslaved. Conquest has been a constant occurrence in history and its results are what we continue to live with today. The Winner’s Curse, explored this at a more intimate level. 

Overall, Marie Rutkoski has presented us with an absurdly well thought-out and exceptionally executed book. It is a story that discusses more than one can see on the surface. It features intelligent characters, mind games and a lot of strategizing. I definitely recommend it to those looking for a fruitful and interesting experience.


“The Winner’s Curse is when you come out on top of the bid, but only by paying a steep price.”

-MARI

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