WoW - Heir of Fire



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

Heir of Fire

September 2, 2014

Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien's only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan's Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn.

Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King's Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan's biggest threat - and his own toughest enemy. 

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love? 

This third novel in the Throne of Glass sequence, from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, is packed with more heart-stopping action, devastating drama and swoonsome romance, and introduces some fierce new heroines to love and hate.




Let's start with the fact that I'm a big fan of assassin stories and the Throne of Glass novels are some of my favourites. As a result, I cannot wait for this one to come out. The ending of Crown of Midnight was a killer and I'm not sure how I'm going to last until book 6. This is going to be a long series and I can't wait to enjoy them all. Team Chaol!

P.S. If you guys know any other great assassin or high fantasy books to keep me company until this one comes out, name them in the comments.

What Are You Waiting On?

-MARI 

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Cover Wars: Suspicion 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.


Last weeks Cover Wars came to an end with Winterspell's close victory over Witch Fall. This week the winner is facing the gorgeous cover of Suspicion by Alexandra Monir.


For the past few Cover Wars we've been randomly running into some similar themes. This week it's colour. Both covers have gravitated towards a similar shade of purple. It's a beautiful colour and both covers make it work.

Suspicion has a very delicate look to it. The flowers twist a certain way and the lilac maze makes me want to adore it from afar to insure it stay in it's current state of perfection. I wish, however that we could see the model instead of having an aerial view of her walking. I'm not sure if she is supposed to be a ghost or if the effect on her legs are supposed to depict movement. Either way, Suspicion's cover is a treat for the eyes of book lover everywhere. 

The delicate theme is carried over to Winterspell, with the gorgeous swirling typography and the gates in the background. The models bright red hair and the crow's black feathers also serve as contrast with the lilac, wintery theme. 


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

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Which cover should win Cover Wars?
  
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Review: Red Rising

Author: Pierce Brown
Date of Publication: January 28 2014
Pages: 382 (but the book is huge so it's more than your typical 382 page book)
Source: Library

The war begins...

Darrow is a Helldiver, one of a thousand men and women who live in the vast caves beneath the surface of Mars. Generations of Helldivers have spent their lives toiling to mine the precious elements that will allow the planet to be terraformed. Just knowing that one day people will be able to walk the surface of the planet is enough to justify their sacrifice. The Earth is dying, and Darrow and his people are the only hope humanity has left.

Until the day Darrow learns that it is all a lie. Mars is habitable - and indeed has been inhabited for generations by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. The Golds regard Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

With the help of a mysterious group of rebels, Darrow disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside.

But the command school is a battlefield. And Darrow isn't the only student with an agenda...

Review:

"And to the reader, thank you. You're going to bloodydamn love these books." 

Pierce Brown opened the story with these acknowledgements and he was bloodydamn right. Red Rising is a monster. It is a powerful book about cruel realities. It is cunning and proud and a masterpiece. This book is epic and I expect its impact to be huge. So many times has it been compared to The Hunger Games and although the stories are different, I think it's because the potential is just as strong. It is a story of universal appeal and I can't wait to watch Red Rising become a sensation because this book has the x factor. I know I'm gushing but it's hard not to because Red Rising is everything I could ever want from a book.

Darrow is a Helldiver. He is a Red, one of the lower castes in a futuristic world where humans learned how to space travel and are terraforming other planets. As a Red, Darrow is a pioneer helping make Mars habitable for future Earth evacuees. He lives without much, but he is happy with his simple life with his beautiful wife, whom he adores. Reds are on the bottom of the caste system, and that has never bothered Darrow, who believes in what he's doing. Except that he has been lied to his entire life and he soon learns of the oppression of the Golds.

The world building is phenomenal. Everything has not yet been told to the reader, but the society is described with such clarity that I can clearly imagine it and its values. Pierce Brown put so much thought into his world and that makes Red Rising really shine. There are so many references to history- to Alexander the Great, to the Romans, to Plato, and all of it is done intelligently. For example, Plato's thoughts on democracy as the tyranny of the people are one of the principles to Darrow's world. There is a beautiful balance between the future and the past and it's very clear how their society was built from the past, just like ours.

I adored Darrow right away. He had a spark in him that was apparent from the first scene and watching his character develop is truly remarkable. Darrow was complex and the relationships he built as well as his inner conflict from questioning the morality of his actions was fantastic. Darrow was so ambitious and focused. He wanted something and he did it singlemindedly. He suffered a lot and my heart broke for him, but all that suffering forced him to change.

There are so many phenomenal characters, and I wish I could highlight them all. Instead, I'll focus on the portrayal of females in Red Rising. The society was not patriarchal nor matriarchal. In fact, in several of the high positions, women were in charge. There were so many women, all powerful in different ways, like Eo's unwavering belief in a better world (I adored her) to some other character's sly realism. Red Rising was very much a military book and sometimes women seem to be ignored in these types of books, which is ridiculous because they have been incredible military leaders in the past. There was Zenobia, Jeanne D'Arc, the Trung sisters, Boudicca. Sometimes, dystopian YA authors seem to decide that in their imaginings of the future, women are weak and of lesser value; this is a step backwards I have never understood. So, I was happy to read about strong, capable women in Red Rising.

The plot was unbelievable. This is an epic story that is Game of Thrones esque. There are brutal battles, victories and failures. It is so bloody at times and I enjoyed reading about Darrow finding his way though this Machiavellian world. I was completely enthralled through every part of Red Rising. The writing is strong as it has a sense of attitude and it portrays Darrow perfectly.

Now, my absolute favorite part of Red Rising was its exploration of several subjects, most notably, power. I've always been fascinated with power: its acquisition, and its effects. Red Rising explored all this perfectly. As Darrow changed from a lowly Red to someone with greater opportunities, the story explored the effects of power as it changes and corrupts. The story also explored different types of power. What kind of power can a martyr have? Are matyrs good? What effect can power have to people born to it, yet oblivious to that fact? And how does an empire remain in power? All these questions were explored so well with undertones of psychology, philosophy and history. This literary aspect made Red Rising a page turner to read for entertainment, but also a book that could be comfortably read and analyzed in an English class.

Everything was crafted stupendously and Red Rising was a glorious melange of politics, brutality, rebellion, life, death... It had all the qualities one would expect from some of the truly great books. I don't know how Pierce Brown can possibly top Red Rising, but I'm so excited to find out because it is almost mid 2014 and Red Rising is already by far the best book I've read this year, and the series can potentially make my all time favourites list. I adored Red Rising and I implore you to read it.


-P.E.


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The Weekly Progress: 3 Day Week 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 a three day week in the sense that I only went to school for three days. It was pretty awesome, but surprisingly, I didn't really notice much of a difference.

Books Read

Zilch.

Currently Reading


Sophie's World is not a very readable book. It is extremely academic thus far and when I read it, I feel like I'm in philosophy class. (I'm not joking- this is exactly what we did in philosophy.) It's nice to learn something, but suspending my disbelief in letters and how easily they force Sophie to look at the world without considering the plot is not very exciting. Hopefully, it picks up.

On the Blog

We started with my review of Tandem, which I think showed a lot of promise. 

Mari featured Snow Like Ashes for her WoW, and I'm definitely looking forward to that one too!

Then, we picked our favourite friendships in books

Mari then did what I love to do, which is connect a song to YA in some way! Check out Come Back Home: On Dystopias and Technology. 


The Week That Was

This was a fairly significant week because on Friday, I went to visit my first choice university. I've gotten accepted, and this was all about seeing the campus and getting a feel for the vibe. To be honest, I was terrified for this experience. Moving to a different city is so exciting, but I was scared I'd visit the campus and be like, "Nope, I hate it." 

I really did like it, and now I guess it's the fun part of the university process. I've done so much paperwork, and there's so much left to do, but now I can really actually imagine myself in Montreal. I think another fun part was actually speaking to some faculty advisers, and one of which told me (very kindly) that I didn't need to worry so much, and that everything would work out. That seems really lame because everyone has been telling me that, but it's nice to hear from someone that actually knows the program and that listened to what my plan for the future was.

I'm just really relieved right now that the choice I made is starting to appear to be the right one for me. I convinced my mom, at least. ;)

Song of the Week

How do I top my song from last week? Well, this week, my choice is very different from other weeks. I love how atmospheric this song is. I love the kind of mood Lana Del Rey's songs always have, and so this song is curiously fun to listen to. It's very nice to listen to. Here is West Coast by Lana Del Rey although everyone knows the east coast is the best coast ;)



Have a great week!
-P.E.

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Review: Mistress of Rome

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

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.


Review:

Mistress of Rome is another book Mari recommended I read. I wasn't as enamoured with it as she was, but I appreciate reading a book out of my normal genre.

First, I wonder if my opinion is affected at all by the fact that I read 100 pages over the course of a week, and then I binge read the rest of the novel. I have a bit of a headache now and I can't help thinking the story is incredibly long. It's a drama with various elements, and at the beginning I was very interested in it. I was curious to see what would happen, and frankly I never read adult so this was completely out of my comfort zone.

I understand the story is very plot based which might be why I didn't fully connect with any of the characters. I felt kind of distant from them. Throughout the novel, many of them encountered new situations and became new people and I thought the time lapses were fascinating because I got to experience their lives. There were some characters, namely Lepida, that I prayed would die very early because she was so irritating. There was nothing redeeming about her character, and to be honest that's not something I like in a book. I kept having to read in the perspective of an absurdly irritating character.

There were some things I would have liked to know more about. For example, Arius said he had a 'black demon" inside of him and this was something never fully explored. I wondered what it was- was he mentally ill? Where did it come from? I guess I just wanted some elaboration on that part of him. Thea was the main protagonist and objectively I like her but emotionally I didn't feel too much.

I guess after a while because I wasn't invested in the characters, especially in the last fifth of the book, I was just hoping it would end. The story just became too much of a drama and it wasn't realistic to me. I despised reading Lepida's POV and I couldn't connect with some of the characters' choices.

The biggest villain of the story was despicable, but I never felt I had a grasp on their personality. The ending was warranted, and to be honest I didn't feel any sense of victory. It was more like, "Finally! The rat is dead."

Mistress of Rome felt like a really long read without a really specified overall plot. The story kind of dips and curves as it's about peoples' lives in ancient Rome rather than being a story about a specific plot. It's so long and I didn't like that because I was very tired of it by the end. I would expect that this book isn't meant to be a one sit read. But I read it in three chunks, and I realized quickly that it's not a page turner. It's the type of book that's probably meant to be read slowly, in little installments. I don't read like that, and so this isn't my type.

The other side is that although the story takes place in Rome, Mistress of Rome is a drama. I haven't read much about ancient Rome however, so it was a lot of fun to look at the different world that existed back then. I don't know enough about Rome to comment on the accuracy of the world building but to me it seemed very good.

Overall, Mistress of Rome is a different book from the type I usually read, and I enjoyed trying it out. Long winded dramas aren't really my type though, and it gets 3 stars because by the end I was just skimming some parts desperately wishing the story was over. I feel like a true testament to a quality book is one where each sentence feels beautiful and while Mistress of Rome started strong, I felt like by the end I had satisfied my craving for something new and I was completely done with the story. If you're more of a contemporary reader and romance lover, with some respect for historical reads I think you'll enjoy this one. Just remember to take it slowly. 3 stars.


-P.E.



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Come Back Home: On Dystopias and Technology



I'm a big fan of Asian culture and tend to enjoy watching/listening to their shows and music. I've recently become quite interested in K-Pop and K-Dramas so I thought I would branch out and combine some of my other hobbies with my love for reading. 



Music is another way of expressing ourselves and telling stories. I especially like Taylor Swift's music because I'm not the most talented in interpreting songs to a story, but her's are quite relatable and easy. 

2NE1 is one of the most popular South Korean bands out there, especially among the female bands. They are also known to have some interesting music videos. Come Back Home is a part of their newest album and I can relate to it easily.

I don't understand a word besides the english lyrics much like other international K-pop fans but I enjoy what it sounds like. The visuals on the other hand I understand. Come Back Home is like a dystopian book where virtual life has become a lot more interesting than real life. 


This automatically rings the bell in my head screaming:

Under the Never Sky - Veronica Rossi

The people live in Riverie, a protected city from the "wild" that is outside. The citizens live in a highly technological environment and are always plugged in to their virtual world.

I would not mind living here.

It's a scary idea that has been on everyone's mind for years. What if technology comes to a point that humans become mindless robots, addicted to a virtual world? It's something that we can all understand given that we're all hooked up to our Google machines, ready to get the latest news at any given time.

Ready Player One - Ernest Cline

I haven't read Ready Player One but it's a modern classic, I feel. This one follows the same idea of the world around us having crumbled to an extent that the people resort to a virtual reality in which to live, love and play.

Of course, the ending of the video signifies the people, especially the youth and the technology generation, standing up for themselves. Technology is expanding and we are becoming increasing dependent on it, but it doesn't mean that we are its slave. 


P.S. If you want to listen to an english version Impaofsweden sang a cover and it's quite good.

-MARI

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Relationships Beyond Romance: Friendships

It seems that now a days, YA books are more focused on the romance aspect of relationships, and while that's fine, I know there are a lot of readers that prefer things like family, friendship and brotherhoods. They are not hard to come by, though sometimes one has to look more closely.

Humans are inherently social creatures and while romances are amazing they can only be shared with a few but friendships are limitless.


Mari


The first friendship that comes to mind is an unconventional one. It's between an old, retired army veteran, George, and a teenage girl, Quinn, who volunteers at the retirement home in If I Lie by Corrine Jackson.
“You're not one of those cranky old people who uses their age as an excuse to be a prick, are you?” 
“I don’t care about the rumors. I know about the type of person you are, and I still love you.”
This whole book from its core was about friendship and it is a rare commodity. Despite the problems that faced them, the two manage to bond over their common love for photography and their friendship grows to really skip generations making George the person Quinn relies on to guide her. I found it to so beautiful. 

Now, I'll leave our favourite friendship trio for P.E. to expand on but who can possibly leave out, Harry Ron and Hermione?


P.E.

Mari feels bad for me because I struggled so much to pick a family to highlight, so she thought that giving me Harry Potter this time would be fair. Except, Harry Potter wasn't even my first thought! When I think of friendships, I think of Rose and Lissa from Vampire Academy. These two girls are best friends and are willing to do anything to protect each other. They have their issues and arguments, but they try their best to move on. 

Another pretty awesome series for friendships is literally anything Rick Riordan writes. More specifically, Percy, Grover, and Annabeth. They are friends despite such different personalities. Percy and Grover initially bond, and slowly Annabeth becomes integrated into their group. Their friendship is so strong that it could be Percy's downfall, because he's so incredibly loyal to his friends. Also, they've gone through so much together and you can really tell they can face anything together. I'll be starting The House of Hades soon, and I've been through an incredibly slow reread of The Lightning Thief, so this is a series that is on my mind. 

I'm sure there are many more friendships I'm missing, but these are two that I think stand out. Obviously, Harry Potter would also make my list too. 


Who Are Your Favourite Literary Friends!

-MARI & P.E.

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WoW - Snow Likes Ashes



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

Snow Like Ashes

October 14, 2014

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.



I've been seeing a lot of this one around lately and I can understand why; it looks amazing. As a huge fan of high fantasy this one looks like it has a lot of potential. The synopsis doesn't give much away so I'm excited to find out for myself.

What Are You Waiting On?

-MARI 

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Cover Wars: Winterspell vs. Witch Fall


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.


Kiss Kill Vanish fell last week to the rustic and vibrant cover of Witch Fall by Amber Argyle. This week, the champion is back to face the new competitor, Winterspell by Claire Legrand.


Battle of the magical covers! Both these covers have something mystical about them. Witch Fall captured hearts last week with it's classical take on witches. The cover also houses a very beautiful turquoise to yellow gradient. The additional pop from the model's coral dress and hair continues with a more summery theme.

Winterspell on the other hand, is cold as per it's title. The purple fog surrounds the cover as though enveloping the model as she holds her dagger a little to close to her neck. I find her pose really interesting as it resembles one of death. Death is also related to cold. Hmm. The typography of the title does really well with the iron gate in the background and the crow is another great allusion to winter. 

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

Vote now!


Which cover should win Cover Wars?
  
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Review: Tandem

Author: Anna Jarzab
Date of Publication: October 8 2013
Pages: 428
Source: Library

Sixteen-year-old Sasha Lawson has only ever known one small, ordinary life. When she was young, she loved her grandfather's stories of parallel worlds inhabited by girls who looked like her but led totally different lives. Sasha never believed such worlds were real--until now, when she finds herself thrust into one against her will.

To prevent imminent war, Sasha must slip into the life of an alternate version of herself, a princess who has vanished on the eve of her arranged marriage. If Sasha succeeds in fooling everyone, she will be returned home; if she fails, she'll be trapped in another girl's life forever. As time runs out, Sasha finds herself torn between two worlds, two lives, and two young men vying for her love--one who knows her secret, and one who thinks she's someone she's not.

The first book in the Many-Worlds Trilogy, Tandem is a riveting saga of love and betrayal set in parallel universes in which nothing--and no one--is what it seems.

Review:

The very end of the book said something along the lines of "this is just a beginning, it's not the end". That, I think, is a pretty succinct description of Tandem. I think Tandem is such a beginning that it feels too long. It's not until the end that the major plot really seems to fly by. I also can't help but wonder what if the story instead started after the end of Tandem. What happened in Tandem was necessary for the overall story arc, but I think it was a little tedious to read about. It's what happens next that fascinates me.

I didn't feel a connection to any of the characters. They weren't irritating, but the emotional bond was weak. I also thought that the author didn't do as good of a job at really defining each character as she could have. They felt like characters from a book, rather than real people. I feel like I've read of several Sashas, Thomas' and Callums before, and that kind of sucks.

There was one character whom I did find fascinating: Julianna. I felt this less by the end, but I couldn't help but be fascinated by this lonely girl who is willing to forgo all of her duties for freedom. I feel like Julianna's story is really the fascinating one, and I think this story could be incredible if the author puts the right emotion into it. Basically, Julianna's mother is exiled, her father is injured and bedridden, her stepmother despises her, she's worried one of her father's friends will kill her, and she is set to be betrothed to the prince of the enemy of her country in an alliance that will result in a peace treaty that could end the generational war with Farham. But somehow, Julianna is running away from all that. I feel like expanding on her character will (because I hold out hope that this will happen in future novels) just bring the emotional connection Tandem lacked. I mean, Julianna's life is a tragedy! And since Melina Marchetta, I have an enormous appreciation for emotional fantasy.

Compared to Julianna, Sasha is pretty, uh, mundane. I know not everyone is a princess with emotional barriers, but there was nothing that called me to Sasha. Her parents died and she lives with her grandfather, which is pretty cute. I guess the weird thing for me is that Sasha doesn't seem like a person. She has her grandfather who is sweet, and whom she loves. Her parents died when she was young (I suppose I should feel sympathy, but this is too common in YA) and she likes books. She's supposed to be sympathetic but her character doesn't really come to life.

Thomas is very similar. I like him more than Sasha, but he didn't endear himself to me. He's a guy that moved up the soldier's ranks pretty quickly. He has integrity, and he's good, but reserved due to a terrible upbringing. He's someone Sasha shouldn't be with but they can't help but fall for each other... I can't help but think that the believability is lacking. He's a nice guy and stuff but what makes him fall for Sasha? The romance was a plot I was completely apathetic towards. I skimmed through some of the kissing scenes because I honestly didn't get into the story.

I think I've been pretty lukewarm in my description of Tandem, and that's how I feel about the book. It starts off with some action and promise, and then it's really slow as Sasha begins to adapt to taking over Julianna's life. There were some cool bits with Sasha wondering if she was losing herself because almost no one knew who she was, and I was really excited about that bit, but it got swept under the rug. Tandem has a lot of things: a romance, action, fantasy, but I don't think it manages to pull them off impressively.

I guess that's my thing: Tandem is okay. At its core, it's a fascinating story. The plot was exciting and the politics of the war, the different world's, and the predicament the book ends in, all of that was fascinating. Tandem just wasn't a story that captured my attention too well, and it felt very slow as well. I wouldn't have minded if there was much more action and actual stuff happening. I think the real kicker is that I totally plan to read the sequel. The ending of the story was interesting and I think (or hope) that Tandem is heading in the right direction. Tandem set up a foundation. It took a really long time, but the foundation is set. Now I'm really hoping that Tether takes the next step and the story really begins to shine.

So Tandem is probably a two star book, because I thought it was an average read, but I would say it's definitely on the higher scale of two stars. If I still gave half stars, Tandem would get them. But, I don't, so 2 stars it is.


-P.E.

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The Weekly Progress: Easter 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 post is being written exceptionally late by TWP standards because I've spent the last few hours trying to delete a bunch of malware off the laptop I'm currently using, which is not my regular. Almost nothing in the world irritates me as much as malfunctioning technology. Anyway, on to the recap!

Books Read


Both were enjoyable. The latter is a book I won't review, so I'll just let you all know that Heroes of Olympus is one of my favourite series. By now, I hope that everyone realizes how much I adore Riordan's Greek and Roman worlds.

Currently Reading


My accounting teacher gave this one to read. I don't really read these types of books so I don't know what to expect. Still, I suppose diversifying my bookshelf is never a bad idea, right?

On the Blog

The week started off with my review of Cruel Beauty. (Spoiler: I really liked it!)

Next, Mari picked The Young Elites as her WoW.

Mari then touched on a rather weird topic. Feet on YA book covers! I never noticed it until she commented on it, but it's really bizarre to see feet on any cover. Does it really sell the book?

Libraries have always been a really big part of my life, and I just wanted to say that libraries are awesome.

Finally, we ended the week a little sadly with a not so happy review: my thoughts on Goddess

The Week That Was

It's been a decent week, and the weekend has been pretty great so far. I sleep late on weekdays (well, late for me) and then I binge sleep on weekends. So far, the long weekend has been very relaxing. I watched Divergent with my family, and I was so proud of my mom when, upon seeing Four for the first time, she said "Wow, he's really cute!" Good taste runs in the family, I suppose. :p 

Beyond that, I had a really great lava cake the other day and now I really want to make one on my own. I've found some simple, yet tasty recipes, and who knows, maybe I can actually make something! I love watching cooking shows on TV (current favourite is Masterchef Canada [Team Eric!] because this season of Hell's Kitchen is too much drama) and it's amazing seeing what people are capable of making. Also, I can't live my whole life without knowing how to cook, especially seeing as I'm an incredibly picky eater. So maybe I'll give it a shot and I'll post a picture next week. 

Song of the Week

THIS SONG IS SO GOOD. Let's ignore the absolutely ridiculous music video and instead bask in the atmosphere of this trap remix of Katy Perry's Dark Horse featuring Juicy J by PHYNX. I love this song so much. Besides the really catchy tune, it just feels sexy and daring. Like, it's slow and builds up very nicely. The original song is already trap-ish so I love that as much as this remix, but I like the melodic accents. It's a beautiful sound.



Enjoy! And have a great week! And happy Easter to those that celebrate it!
-P.E.

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Review: Goddess




Author: Josephine Angelini
Date of Publication: March 21 2013
Pages: 421
Series: Starcrossed #3
Source: Library

After accidentally unleashing the gods from their captivity on Olympus, Helen must find a way to re-imprison them without starting a devastating war. But the gods are angry, and their thirst for blood already has a body count.

To make matters worse, the Oracle reveals that a diabolical Tyrant is lurking among them, which drives a wedge between the once-solid group of friends. As the gods use the Scions against one another, Lucas’s life hangs in the balance. Still unsure whether she loves him or Orion, Helen is forced to make a terrifying decision, for war is coming to her shores.

In Josephine Angelini’s compelling conclusion to the masterfully woven Starcrossed trilogy, a goddess must rise above it all to change a destiny that’s been written in the stars. With worlds built just as fast as they crumble, love and war collide in an all-out battle that will leave no question unanswered and no heart untouched.

Review:


Reading Goddess was a strange experience because I was about a third of the way through when my elibrary copy expired, and it wasn't until two weeks later that I managed to check it out again and finished it. I remember being excited before that Goddess' pacing was faster than the previous Starcrossed novels. In the end though, I can't say I'm really happy.

The writing (i.e. the execution) was never the strongest part to Josephine Angelini's work, and I always accepted that. For Goddess, I couldn't. So much was touched on but not expanded. There was at least one new character introduced who barely influenced the story. There were so many storylines and none of them were detailed. I know I prefer the general type of stories, but this was to a whole new level because most of the time, I had no idea what was going on because prophecies and events kept surfacing and being disbanded.

The series was concluded, but not tidily. I feel like the story bounced all over the place and so many events happened that deserved a greater emphasis. Goddess was too quick and random and so I had no emotional connection to anyone. I remember adoring Orion in Dreamless, but about halfway through the book it felt like his story was completely abandoned. He went from being one of the most important characters to more of a secondary character.

Goddess was a series of flashbacks and "I'll tell you laters". I honestly think the story became too big. I'm a little surprised that, considering all the information that was necessary for the reader to absorb, the series didn't have better pacing because this was too much for a finale. I'll never stop thinking Angelini's story is compelling, but I can feel like it was executed weakly, can't I?

One part that genuinely irritated me was the characterization. The badass dudes were not truly badass. The good guys were a little vanilla. And the betrayals were so stupid (this is my angry fan opinion). There is one story line featuring one character that results in this character acting in a way that I honestly could not believe. I was blindsided by some characters' betrayals and their motivations were so weak that I was a little disgusted in the pettiness Angelini's characters possessed.

Or how about the fact that so much conflict could have been avoided if everyone thought rationally and stopped making impulsive decisions? I guessed a lot of the story and it was weird that the characters never talked to one another after some point. Helen's choices in particular were so random that I was confused. Who was this girl? And I suppose Helen was supposed to change after taking on all the power, and this was something I was looking forward to: Helen's character development. Sadly, there was really only one incident and then Helen's character never changed. Also, in times of danger, I can never imagine making out with my true love when people need me. *groans*

Now that we got that out of the way, I'll be a little more positive. Although there was a certain whiplash I felt trying to navigate through all the storylines, and although some showdowns were anticlimactic, and maybe I wouldn't have minded more description of the fight scenes, I think Angelini has an incredible imagination. The ideas were plainly fun to read about, and I don't think she wrote the best book, but this is honestly a world that touches on so many facets of Greek mythology and manages to make it semi-coherent. I feel like this entire trilogy should be in a different format, like a tv show, because it is overwhelmingly plot and idea based. Add the right music and acting and this could do very well.

The flashbacks were also very amusing. I loved seeing the characters in the past in Troy and comparing them to the present. It was so fascinating that at some point I wished that was the story instead of the jumbled present. Greek mythology is super cool and Goddess makes me want to read more of it.

Unfortunately, Goddess was not the story I had hoped for because I feel like it was weak in the technical aspects of writing. It did manage to capture my interest and entertain me, so I'm giving it 2 stars.


-P.E.


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Libraries are Awesome



Without a doubt, one of the best services offered by the government is the library.

When my parents immigrated to Canada, we were not that well off. I was almost four, and I remember being very shy and totally a mommy's girl just. I wasn't very good at trusting strangers, and I was a pretty cautious, quiet child. My parents gave me everything I needed, but they didn't splurge on items like books and it was futile to ask for them. 


But, there was the library. I wish I could remember the first time I walked into a library, but I can't. I suppose it's when my parents were in college. There was a massive library nearby and my mom would visit to read books. I think she hoped it would improve her English. I can't tell you the first time I checked a book out from the library either. My memory of the library begins with bringing tens of books home after I scoured the shelves. 

I can't remember reading many picture books. I think at some point my mom tried to force them on me because I wasn't a very good reader. (I have a distinct memory of struggling with the words cat and bat.) I guess I thought books were boring. But the beautiful thing about the library is that it isn't always about books.



The library had an extensive selection of VCR's, and I devoured them. I adored Disney (my favourite was Beauty and the Beast), and my mom laughs when she recounts how I cried when I watched The Land Before Time (in fairness, when the mommy dinosaur died, it was devastating). I even acted out some of the Lion King and The Land Before Time movies by transforming our living room into an elaborate obstacle course so when the dinosaurs jumped about on their journeys, I would climb around the couch (my parents LOVED that part). 

I read Dear Dumb Diary; I read Junie. B Jones. Then I met my next passion: Harry Potter. Reading Harry Potter was special because my mom read it too. I remember struggling through the words and asking her what they meant. It was one of the first chapter books I read, and I don't know how but somehow, I became a big reader soon after. 

I would visit the library with my mom and we would check out a good twenty books. I read up to six chapter books a day (granted, they were small ones). I couldn't buy any of the books I wanted, but I could take them from the library and that was literally the next best thing. Whenever I was in a bad place, I would retreat to my room and read. They kind of taught me a lot about the world, and my childhood is a huge reason why I'm a reader today. 

The other thing the library offered were programs. I remember my mom signing me up to a few and I was super shy, but I had fun. I think I went to a Lord of the Rings program, which was really funny because I never read the books. Either way, the library proved all throughout my childhood to be a safe place. 

When I was a pre-teen, and um, stuff wasn't going so well at home, I would compose myself and go to the library where I would forget about everything else and just focus on books. The library is a pleasant space, and it was also my safe space. I brought my sister with me sometimes and even if I was uncomfortable in other places, the library always meant a lot to me.



To put it really simply, books are a huge part of my life and I wouldn't be able to have them without the library. We're better off now, but I still visit the library monthly and I volunteer there because I know what a safe haven it is. I used the library to entertain myself, and my mom used it to educate herself. My dad used it to stay connected with his home country by reading the news. It has meant a lot to my family, and I can't say enough about the facilities and the people there. 

I think I wrote this post just because libraries need to be appreciated more. They do so much for people and they don't get enough credit. I would like to thank every single library and librarian throughout the years because their work is appreciated. 

The true test to the strength of a civilization is in the libraries, and I'm lucky to live in a city with first class service.

-P.E.

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YA Obsession With Feet



I just had a sudden urge to clean up today, starting with my room, then my books and now my Goodreads tbr pile. The aforementioned to-be read pile has been suffering from a very common case of giantism for as long as I've had a Goodreads account. This isn't much of a surprise because I have a one click process when it comes to adding books to the list. This has resulted in some weird additions. Every now and then, I jump in and delete the books that I have but don't want to read. This time, I had a few interesting discoveries and they included covers of random body parts. Some pretty, others, not so much. I'll let you be the judge.

The Feet

I understand books with feet on their cover. I have nothing against feet, believe me, but they just don't make me think: I WANT TO READ THAT! Interestingly enough, I found three feet covers side by side.

Here are some more:




Feet on the cover seems to be a dead 2010-ish thing and I'm really happy that it's gone. I don't mind the first two covers and I focused more on the pretty fabric in The Lost Saints than the feet. Still, feet aren't the things people want to see on covers, especially if it's there for no reason.

I don't really understand the feet themed covers in the Dark Divine series. I read the whole series and last I checked they were about werewolves; not feet.

My favourite of the covers is Deb Caletti's Honey, Baby, Sweetheart. The feet are 'clothed' with shoes and they aren't the main focus of the cover unlike some of the other ones. It also makes sense. They are on a ride and she has her feet out the window during a beautiful sunny day. That screams fun summer read. I'm not sure which part of werewolf I was supposed to get from the blue chiffon fabric + extremely pale feet.

Overall, the feet covers seem to be a strictly contemporary thing and they aren't as common now but once a book is printed, it'll be around forever and so will these feet.

How Do You Feel About Feet On the Cover?

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WoW - The Young Elites



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

The Young Elite

October 7, 2014

"Some hate us, think us criminals to hang at the gallows. Some fear us, think us demons to burn at the stake. Some worship us, think us divine children of the gods.

But all know us."
---
Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood plague: marked by a jagged scar, snow-white hair and lashes. Cast out by her family, Adelina has finally found a place to belong within the secret society of Young Elites. To some, the Elites are heroes, here to save innocents in desperate situations. But to the Inquisition Axis, the white-robed soldiers of Kenettra, they are monsters with demonic powers who must be brought to justice. As Adelina learns more about this perilous world where politics and magic clash, she soon realizes that her own powers may be in danger of bringing on an era of panic such as the world has never seen.
---
The new series, set in what Putnam described as a “Renaissance-like world,” is called The Young Elites. It follows three rival societies with supernatural powers battling for supremacy.



I am so extremely excited for this book. I didn't realize Marie Lu had another series coming out so soon after Legend ended but hey, I'm not complaining.

I Love:

  • a “Renaissance-like world,”
  • The fact that the protagonist doesn't seem to be perfect, at least not physically. I'm interested to read about her and her scars.
  • Now I'm wondering how she came to acquire her scar? So many questions!
This looks like a great series to keep me busy for another 3 years. I always love me some more Marie Lu, the woman knows how to write a good book.

What Are You Waiting On?

-MARI 

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Cover Wars: Witch Fall vs. Kiss Kill Vanish

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.


Kiss Kill Vanish prevailed over its competition last week. Thanks everyone for voting and commenting, we love to see your opinions. This week the winner is back to face a new cover, Witch Fall by Amber Argyle.


Once again we have a competition between two completely different covers. Witch Fall has a more fantasy and rustic vibe while the creators of KKV went straight for youthful and modern. 

I'm not the biggest fan on Witch Fall's typography but I see how it can relate to the story and time period of the book. What does impress me though is the cover art. I love the animated model. Her coral dress looks amazing in the turquoise water and the added ripped detailing is always nice.

KKV received a lot of love last week and why shouldn't it, that cover is a breath taker. The models pose is very human, nothing like some of the poses that make us cringe. It's solemn and delicate. The typography follows the same modern theme of simplicity and the explosion of colour ties everything together quite well.

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

Vote now!


Which cover should win Cover Wars?
  
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Review: Cruel Beauty

Author: Rosamund Hodge
Date of Publication: January 28 2014
Pages: 346
Source: Borrowed ARC (thanks!)

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

Review:

Cruel Beauty is a gorgeous story. It is a rose among dandelions. It is a scoop of swirling, luxurious dark chocolate ice cream in a world of plain vanilla. Cruel Beauty carries well deserved hype with it, yet I was still shocked at how well put together this story was.

Nyx was a brilliant character. I admired her and sympathized with her. She was fierce and so honest with herself. Nyx has lived her whole life preparing to be sacrificed to the Gentle Lord because of a bargain her father made long ago. Her land, Arcadia, has been sundered from the Earth and she is her people's only hope to free themselves from a land of demons. Nyx's predicament was so dire that I connected to her from the start. It doesn't hurt that she acted completely humanely. She was angry and bitter, even when she logically knew it was wrong. See, her father had two daughters and chose to give away Nyx. Nyx loved her family but she was angry at her family, especially her sister. That dynamic, the love/hate with Astraia, was perfectly played out. Nyx struggled to reconcile loving her sister and hating her sister because she was going to die so her sister could live. I don't want to imagine ever being in such a position, but I feel like I would react very similarly to Nyx. So, from the beginning I absolutely adored her.

Some people have said they thought the beginning was slow, but I adored it. Cruel Beauty set its plot up luxuriously by taking its time to develop the intrigue, the characters, and the world. The writing was pretty and interesting enough that I was never bored. I also believe that's a part of Cruel Beauty's style; it starts out slow, but then picks up until the climax and the perfect resolution.

I have to comment on Ignifex now. I don't know how to explain him. He was lighthearted and cruel. He had some evil in him and he genuinely had a different set of morals than Nyx. He was a fascinating character to read about, but unlike many of my favourite romances, he never stole the show. I adored him because Nyx adored him and their relationship was phenomenal. They started out slow, and they gradually fell in love. Their rapport was quick and I think they were a perfect match.

As the story progressed, the mythology slowly weaved itself in, tighter and tighter. Like most fairy tales there was an air of destiny all throughout the story. We first learned about Hermetics and the four elements that were its foundation. From there, it was a combination of Roman and Greek mythology and more "local" mythology. I'm not sure if the villages' stories were based on some real cultures' stories, but either way, they were a nice little add on. And then there were the demons, who were terrifying. I know that Cruel Beauty is based on Beauty and the Beast, and the similarities were very clever. Rosamund Hodge took parts from the fairy tale and remade them into her own so while Cruel Beauty may be based on a fairy tale, it stands strongly on its own.

Obviously, I enjoyed Cruel Beauty. It is a story that I savoured, and I'm impressed and pleased with it. I feel like for this type of story, Cruel Beauty is really as good as it gets so I'm giving it 5 stars.


-P.E.


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