Review: Heartbeat

Author: Elizabeth Scott
Date of Publication: January 28, 2014
Pages: 304
Source: Library

Life. Death. And...Love?

Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.

But Emma can't tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.

Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn't have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge.

Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love?

Review:
This may not be the most brilliant book but it is a great story and whilst reading, I enjoyed it.

The sole reason behind my interest in this book was the topic it covered. I’ve read a few news articles about pregnant bodies being kept alive in order to save the life of the unborn child but I was quite surprised to see the issue in a novel, especially since it’s quite a new occurrence.

At its heart, the story is one of grief, despair and loss. Emma is shattered after her mother’s untimely death. She can no longer see the purpose in things that she used to deem important like friends, reputation, and university. She is also questioning everything that led to her mother’s death. What could have been, what should have been and why. 

Emma’s grief reached beyond what I could understand sometimes, it was the all consuming type. She was so warped in the blame game that she was unable to let loose or move on.

Caleb was a great match for her. He had come to the same fork in the road several years earlier and had chosen to take all the wrong turns. Now classified as a druggie, loser and car thief he doesn’t have many prospects going for him until he becomes the only one who sees and understands what Emma is going through. 

Caleb was the catapulting force in Emma’s life. Sometimes it is easier to see the problems in others, than it is in oneself. Emma saw all the things that were wrong with Caleb’s life and she was able to console him. Little did she know that she was just like him. 

This isn't a love story. Love is a part of it, but mostly it's about familial love and loss. Emma's relationship with her mom was beautiful. Her relationship with her stepfather Dan, that she loved so much but with whom she was attached to because of her mother's marriage. This resulted in her fears of abandonment and the misunderstandings that arose after her mother's death. I really loved Dan. He was a wonderful man and I give him credit for dealing with Emma through the rough times. 

Heartbeat is a light story though it deals with some tough topics. The story itself doesn’t have much complexity and basically revolves around Emma’s family and her close friends with little snapshots of the outside world. It’s a nice quick read, that deals with love, loss and family. Lots of family; those were probably some of my favourite parts. 


-MARI


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The Weekly Progress: No More School Edition

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

I graduated, I went to prom, family from all over the world came, and today is a new day. It was a busy week.

Currently Reading


It's going well so far. I've just been really busy, but I am insanely curious about what is happening. 

On the Blog



I did a Mini-DNF review for Stormdancer, which I won't give another shot unless I'm convinced otherwise.

Mari wrote about a book she really wants to read, The Fire Horse.


The Week That Was

What a crazy week. I started off by writing two exams, one which took too long (three hours), the other that I finished, no joke, in a little over half an hour. We had guests from Australia, grandparents arrived in Canada, I went to prom, I graduated, and now I'm a little bummed because I don't know what else I'm supposed to do. I guess I'm just learning to live with my new reality of my once silent house being full of people and noise. 

It's hard to get into a new routine right now but I am trying to find some way to make it work. And in the back of my mind, I keep thinking about university things I need to do like pack & go to info sessions. I'm trying to relax. 

Song of the Week

Listened to some more Protocol Recordings tracks (because they're perfectly the genre I like) and I found this track with pretty vocals, great melodies, and a new artist I'm a fan of: Fireflies by John Dahlback ft. Melanie Fontana. Enjoy!



Have a great week!

-P.E.

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Discovering: The Fire Horse

Discovering is an irregular feature TSC original feature. Discovering's goal is to spotlight books that have already come out but we might have missed.

The Fire Horse

Kay Honeyman
January 1, 2013
A fiery and romantic adventure, perfect for fans of Grace Lin, Kristen Cashore, or Lisa See!

Jade Moon is a Fire Horse—the worst sign in the Chinese zodiac for girls, said to make them stubborn, willful, and far too imaginative. But while her family despairs of marrying her off, she has a passionate heart and powerful dreams, and wants only to find a way to make them come true.

Then a young man named Sterling Promise comes to their village to offer Jade Moon and her father a chance to go to America. While Sterling Promise's smooth manners couldn't be more different from her own impulsive nature, Jade Moon falls in love with him on the long voyage. But America in 1923 doesn't want to admit many Chinese, and when they are detained at Angel Island, the "Ellis Island of the West", she discovers a betrayal that destroys all her dreams. To get into America, much less survive there, Jade Moon will have to use all her stubbornness and will to break a new path... one as brave and dangerous as only a Fire Horse girl can imagine.

Thoughts:

I'm such a huge fan of Asian culture, as you might have noticed. I find cultures very interesting and so I love to change it up sometimes and read about something different. This is the kind of story I'm always on the look out for.

This book also incorporates history! Double win. I'm sensing a headtax-ish history. I'm not very familiar with American history but I know that was the case in Canada. Either way, I can't wait to learn more.

Also, last but not least, I love the cover. It features two Asian models, great colours and I love the costumes; the contrast is stunning.

What Do You Think?

-MARI

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DNF MiniReview: Stormdancer

Author: Jay Kristoff
Date of Publication: August 12 2012
Pages: 451
Source: School library

Griffins are supposed to be extinct. So when Yukiko and her warrior father Masaru are sent to capture one for the Shogun, they fear that their lives are over. Everyone knows what happens to those who fail him, no matter how hopeless the task.

But the mission proves far less impossible, and far more deadly, than anyone expects – and soon Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in her country's last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled griffin for company. But trapped together in the forest, Yukiko and Buruu soon discover a friendship that neither of them expected.

Meanwhile, the country around them verges on the brink of collapse. A toxic fuel is slowly choking the land; the omnipotent, machine-powered Lotus Guild is publicly burning those they deem Impure; and the Shogun cares about nothing but his own dominion. Yukiko has always been uneasy in the shadow of power, when she learns the awful truth of what the Shogun has done, both to her country and to her own family she's determined to do something about it.

Returning to the city, Yukiko and Buruu plan to make the Shogun pay for his crimes – but what can one girl and a flightless griffin do against the might of an empire?

Review:

I barely read this book so I don't feel like this will be much of a review. Nonetheless, I did read it in some sense so here are some very early thoughts.

I ran out of books and picked this one up from my school library the librarian told me technically, taking books out isn't possible at this time but I could if I returned it by Friday. So my attitude toward this book was that if I were to read it, it would have to make me love it because two days during summative period is not a lot of time for reading.

The other thing I knew about Stormdancer is that it wasn't a book that used Japanese culture very well. I read the reviews and made the conscious decision to try this book, but never take this book as an accurate portrayal of Japanese culture.

From the pages I read, I had just one pretty big issue. It was that I had no clue what was happening. There were so many name drops of stuff I had never heard of. I'm open to learning new things but I felt like the writing, especially the description, was so clunky. I was completely lost because I kept encountering Japanese words that I didn't understand. I felt like the explanations were insufficient for me, too.

A lot of the descriptions were very formulaic. It was a lot of stuff like 'the rice paper walls were decorated with ------ and ------' and there were three of these type of sentences, all with parallel structure, right after one another. I didn't find it very interesting because I didn't know what the words meant, and I generally care very little for heavy description. What I prefer is more of a poet's description; describing the emotions rather than random details about the scene.

The plot also felt excruciatingly slow. It felt like it took forever for stuff to happen. I mean, of course that would happen if you spend so much time on descriptions. But I really got nothing out of them. I think ordinarily I would stick with Stormdancer for some more time. I wouldn't let it go so fast, but I didn't have the time. That being said, the beginning wasn't appealing to me.

I have heard that after 50 or so pages when the voyage starts the story improves. Is that true? I got to them on the ship before I had to return the book. So, I'll let you guys determine what I should do: give it another shot, or move on?

-P.E.

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Global Book Domination

Here on The Sirenic Codex, we like to rant a lot. Although our rants vary in degree and topic, we always seem to come back to this one or at least I do. DIVERSITY! I love diversity and I was just about dancing in my chair when I saw the #WeNeedDiverseBooks trend on twitter.




Recently, I stumbled on a new development while I was watching one of my favourite booktuber/vloggers Sanne @booksandquills. Sanne is Dutch, hence she is familiar with some dutch literature that the rest of the world has been deprived of. This got me thinking, there are so many countries, and cultures, and languages in which stories have been told but we in North America don't get access to them. Many of our stories get translated for other countries to enjoy but we don't get to try their books as often. 

Sanne then highlighted the company Pushkin Press, names after the Russian poet whose works would've forever remained a mystery if some kind hearted person hadn't translated them. Taking it a notch further, without the translation Paulina Simmons might have never written The Bronze Horseman one of my favourite books! Similarly, the role of Pushkin Press is to discover and translate popular works to English. 



This makes me so excited for the future. I wonder how many more companies are attempting the same task. I wonder how many amazing books have already been translated and made accessible to me but I had no idea. 

My vision for the future of the book world has always been a place where book from all times and places are available in many languages. I adore English but I also see the importance of preserving other languages and their stories. I'm looking for a diverse book world and it's definitely in the works. 


What's Your Vision? How Do You Feel about a Global Book Domination?

-MARI

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WoW - Jackaby


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

Jackaby

September, 2014

“Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion--and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.
I love the sounds of this one. Also who doesn't love Sherlock? As a big fan of the 1800s and mystery I'm super excited to dig into this one. Mystery novels are hard to come by, at least the ones that appeal to me so I hope this goes well.

What are You Waiting For?

-MARI 

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Cover Wars: Everything That Makes You vs. Gates of Thread and Stone


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.

After a tough weeks of voting Gates of Thread and Stone became victorious. This week it's facing Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay.


Gates of Thread and Stone has a best seller look to it. The holden threat running across the cover is a beautiful addition. It matched the title typography and serves as a nice contrast to the otherwise gloomy colours.

Everything That Makes You is quite different. It's contemporary but artsy. The half face idea works really well with the blonde writing and the red font. Definitely a very well put together cover.

As always, you have a week to vote!

LET THE VOTING COMMENCE!


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

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PSA: Spoilers Suck, Jerks

The Fault in Our Stars movie came out and somehow the film became an enormous, teenage-pop-culture express. I suppose it's a blend of amazing story and great marketing. Anyway, it was everywhere, even on those supremely irritating twitter accounts that are supposed to be soooo relatable. Anyway, I was pretty much pissed off to see that there were a lot of people spoiling the major twist in A Fault In Our Stars.


This is my not impressed face.


And these people, I think you suck. You're not clever or cool. There is no obligation to read a book before you watch the movie, and I think it's so disrespectful that people think it's fun spoiling someone, and then prefacing it with "they should have read the book". What if they were going to read the book? Or what if they just wanted to watch the movie and enjoy the story firsthand, rather than having everything be ruined?

I absolutely hate spoilers, and frankly, if I hadn't read TFIOS and loved it, I would never watch the movie, especially because everything was "spoiled". What I don't like about TFIOS is that people are spoiling the story and then saying things along the lines of "you should have read the book so it's your fault". Like, what?

For the most part, the book community is very respectful when it comes to spoilers. I'm so thankful that the times I've been spoiled have been very minimal, because if I knew what would happen, I wouldn't read it because one of the biggest parts of the story, the plot, would already be unraveled. And even though I read a lot of books and watch a lot of TV shows, I don't spoil people. I might mention "OMG the twist was insane!" if I really need to say something, but that's it.



And generally, I know I can't tell people what to do. But people can also not tell me what to do, and so I'll say it. You there. Yeah, you. Stop spoiling TFIOS. It's not funny or clever and you're not cool. In fact, if you really enjoy tears and shock, let the person watch the film and explore the twist on their own, and then comfort them later.

Because even if you know something is going to be shocking, you don't get it until you see it. Which pretty much is what I've learned from Game of Thrones.

-P.E.

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The Allure of Game of Thrones (& Falling Into the Trap)

Game of Thrones is one of my favourite tv shows. It is horrifically violent, and I don't know what it says about me that I like a show like that. But I'm not the only one, so if there's something wrong with me, there's something wrong with a lot of society.

Game of Thrones is well known for destroying the hearts of its fans, and killing off its characters in the most tragic ways possible. And it doesn't just kill some minor characters: it will repeatedly kill off main characters in order to move the plot forward. Frankly, it's terrifying.

It's also refreshing. I read so many books and watch many movies, and at some point my mind has ideas mapped out of how stories should go. I can read situations and say this should happen. My favourite part of Game of Thrones is that I'm never sure of what can happen next.

I don't read the books. I just tune into the show not knowing if my favourite character will be killed off (again). It's not all so tragic though. When I tell non-watchers that Game of Thrones has such a high body count, they always say, "What's the point of watching if everyone is always miserable and will die?"

And somehow, despite the death, Game of Thrones has so far maintained the right balance of hope. The allure of Game of Thrones comes from the fact that there are awful scenes where favourite characters will die in the most horrible ways. But there are also some of the most empowering, uplifting scenes that make you believe in the world.

The show crushes you.

And lifts you up.

The rollercoaster of The Game of Thrones


It's a glorious cycle because there was one episode where, after having already experienced all the weddings, I knew this lesson. And yet, I was sure the good guy would win. I believed it. And the good guy was winning. It was uplifting and perfect.

And then, it all went horribly wrong.

I suppose I should have seen it coming. I read a quote by George R. R. Martin after the Red Wedding, where they asked why he killed off certain characters. To paraphrase, he said because it was too obvious if this character lived. It was too much of a story.

This is something that came to my mind again after watching another one of my favourites die. It was so horrible and what was weird was that I was certain this character would survive. I was absolutely certain the "good guy" would win, and when they didn't, it blindsided me. Again.



And that is the allure of Game of Thrones: I haven't figured it out. It's a trap. It makes you love characters, and the allure is that you don't know if who you love will die or live on. Game of Thrones feels so fresh to me after all the storylines I've read throughout my life, and I hope it continues to surprise me.

I would end this post with a little prayer to the universe to save my favourite characters, but you know what, no. If there's one thing I have learned from this show is that characters die, and life goes on. Shit happens and you deal with it. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. It's all about balance.

-P.E.

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The Baddest Females: From Kpop to YA

"This is for all my bad girls around the world.
Not bad meaning bad, but bad meaning good, you know?"

Define Bad: Something undesirable and unwelcome.



"Bad" is quite a subjective word. It can be related to many things and people. However, not everyone will categorize the same things as bad. I define bad as defying the cultural norms. It doesn't make what the things these characters do wrong, it just makes them potentially unacceptable.

In YA, a lot of attention is often brought to the "bad boys". The tough, hard to get boys that make the readers' hearts melt. What makes these guys bad? Sometimes it's the general things: gangs, fights, drugs. Other times it's the moods, the attitude and the actions. These attributes come together to make an irresistible bad boy.

I'm no exception to this female fascination of saving the bad boy from the dark side. However, what I've always found interesting is the bad girls. The girls who resist society's norms to put them in dresses and prance them around like princesses. I envy the athletic girls, who can fight and defend themselves and their loved ones.

YA fiction is the best place for these girls and whilst reading I've come across some fantastic ladies that are worthy of our love and attention. I believe they are referred to as KICKASS HEROINES!

Rose Hathaway

Vampire Academy - Richelle Mead
Behold, the Queen of the bad YA girls. Rose is spunky, she is strong, courageous and outgoing. She will fight for what she thinks is right and won't let anyone stop her.

Katsa

Graceling - Kristin Cashore
She is a weapon that can be exploited but Katsa realizes that she can only be exploited if she allows it. Katsa isn't one to be ordered around. Instead she realizes that all actions done by her even under order are her actions. Katsa also has some unpopular opinions on marriage and family, however they are her opinions and she fights to keep them; this makes her respectable to me. Also, she can kick butt all day, not to mention trek up a snowy mountain and kill feral beasts.


June Iparis

Legend - Marie Lu
June is more the good girl gone bad. She is intelligent and talented but she also feels a lot of empathy. She is a good doer and will follow her beliefs no matter where they take her in order to do what is right.


Celaena Sardothien

Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas
Celaena is a hardcore fighter with a knack for survival. She doesn't fit herself into society's norms by wearing a dress and prancing around, instead she makes the society prance around her.

Meg

Going Too Far - Jennifer Echols
Meg  is more of the traditional rebellious bad girl. She has blue hair, gets arrested, hangs with the wrong crowd but Meg is a survivor. She fights for herself even when it seems like she isn't.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Bad girls are just as amazing bad boys. They are people who defy the norms, some of those norms are not killing people but when put that little murderous streak aside, these are strong women. They are defined as "bad girls" but if bad girls means: strong, courageous, spirited, righteous young women then where is the sign up sheet?

CL isn't the baddest female around but she sure does do a great job personifying a free spoken, forthright young woman who is not afraid of reaching for her dreams.

-Mari

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My Safe Bubble: Anonymity and the Internet

I never told anyone when I started my first blog. I had the news inside of me. I was bursting to tell it, but I kept it on the down low for the early stages. Eventually, I told one friend. And a while later, another. But it wasn't something I publicized. I didn't want to be P.E., the blogger.



I was active on forums long before I even learned of blogging. It was there that I learned the art of creating an internet persona, who was me, but the me I wanted to present. I loved it. I am a private person, and the idea of controlling my image so completely was incredibly appealing. And so, as teenagers often do these days, I found a place in the world, or at least the internet, that I wanted to be part of. The wonderful forum, and later the blogging community.

What's cool about the internet is that you can live by two lives. On the forum, I was known as Ashes (which sounds a little depressing, until I explain that the main character in the book series the forum was about was Ash, and every other variation was taken). On my blog, after learning so much in schools and by parents about the dangers of sharing internet information, I kept my initials, P.E.. It's something I still have.

I didn't realize how weird it was until a teacher said, a little shocked, "You have a blog? Why don't I know about this!" (She's a great teacher, BTW). She was friendly and we often had conversations. She said this so loud and the entire class looked over. And I felt so upset, because maybe some people don't understand, but it was like I was in two worlds.



There was the me in real life, who had a decent life and there was online me, and I was always me no matter what I did, but it was different parts of me. If I had a bad day blogging, well, who cares, go hang out with a friend. If I had a bad day in real life, who cares, I was someone on the internet.

One of the questions I hated most of all was being asked for my blog URL. I think I point blank refused a lot of people. This was partly to ensure my separation between online me and real person me, but also because I wanted to be a successful blogger. I wanted to be productive, and have an impact. In some ways I'm a trusting person, but in others, I'm not. I wanted my blog to be successful because of my hard work and talent (if it indeed existed). I wanted to make a name for myself. Every bit of success that I had was something I wanted to have not because of who I was, but what I could do.

So in general, I hid blogging for a long time, and then I transitioned into "not really going to talk about it". Seriously, do you realize how stressed out I was over making a twitter account? I was terrified. Twitter would mean joining real person me and online me. Of course, I didn't really tell too many people about my Twitter either.

I don't know how it happened, or what happened, and maybe it's a part of growing up, but eventually I become more comfortable with sharing online me and real me. And this is what I believe has made my writing stronger: I can write emotionally and have confidence in my place in the world. This confidence came from seeing Tantalizing Illusions do reasonably well. It also came from people I trusted, who told me they thought I could write well, and somehow they made me believe it a little.

I'm a perfectionist. I'm always in competition with myself to be better. I generally have extremely high expectations of myself and my life, and I'm still reconciling them. Even now, when I'm so very open about being a blogger, which I'm sure has a lot to do with Mari telling me my writing doesn't suck, and helping manage TSC to look good, I still am uncomfortable with the idea of the real people I know seeing my blog.

I'm trying not to be. It's just that writing is so personal to me. I wrote so emotionally, and I don't know how much of that I'm comfortable sharing.

I don't know if this is the case for everyone. I had a twitter conversation the other day with someone, and she told me she never saw blogging the way I did, and that's completely possible. Not everyone feels the compulsive need to be good at everything. I guess the way I see it is if I'm going to do something, I need to do it well. I either do it or don't. There's no middle ground.

I'm even uncomfortable sharing this post because it's again, incredibly personal, and I don't know if I want people to see it. But at the same time, this isn't something people talk about a lot.



Often, to get people interested in Twitter, I describe tweets as talking in a room of shouting people. Maybe someone will hear you, maybe no one will. There is that sense of anonymity on the internet that seems to be shamed, or despised, and I don't see why that needs to be the case.

When I needed it, I was in my anonymous bubble, watching, learning, and it made me feel safe. And now I'm starting to exit that bubble and explore the person that is me on the internet, and off the internet. And maybe I think she has some potential.

Have you ever enjoyed anonymity on the internet? How comfortable are you to say that you're a blogger?

-P.E.


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WoW - 5 to 1


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

5 to 1

May, 2015

In the year 2052, after decades of gender selection, Koyanagar--a country severed from India--now has a ratio of five boys for every girl, and women are an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of wedding their daughters to the highest bidder and determined to finally make marriage fair, the women of Koyanagar have instituted a series of tests so that every boy has the chance to win a wife. But after fighting so hard for freedom against the old ways of gender selection, these women have become just as deluded as their male predecessors. 

Sudasa Singh doesn't want to be a wife and Kiran, a boy competing to be her husband, has other plans as well. Sudasa's family wants nothing more than for their daughter to do the right thing and pick a husband who will keep her comfortable—and caged. Kiran's family wants him to escape by failing the tests. As the tests advance, each thwarts the other until they slowly realize that they might want the same thing.


This beautiful, unique novel is told from alternating points of view—Sudasa's in verse and Kiran's in prose—allowing readers to feel both characters' pain and grasps at hope.
More different cultures! I'm a huge fan of India. I can speak a little of the language mostly because of my devotion to the Bollywood Film industry and I've always wanted to read books about India. Now that I'm being offered a futuristic indian story, how can I refuse?

What are You Waiting For?

-MARI 

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Cover Wars: Gates of Thread and Stone vs. A Thousand Pieces of You


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.

A Thousand Pieces of You managed a clean sweep last week. This weeks it's up against Lori M. Lee's Gates of Threat and Stone. 


Both covers have a touch of modern mixed with the rustic and historical. Gates of Thread and Stone is simple but everything about the cover relates to the story. I love the narrow, empty alleyway and the model's outfit. The colours are all dark shades and work fantastically with the typography. It's a very visually appealing cover.

A Thousand Pieces of You mixed the old and the new in it's architecture, it also displays a brighter more vivacious pallet of colours.

As always, you have a week to vote!

LET THE VOTING COMMENCE!


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

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Review: A Monster Calls

Author: Patrick Ness
Date of Publication: May 27 2011
Pages: 207
Source: Library ebook

Read my review before you decide to read the synopsis! 

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming...

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.

Review:

It's official: I am now a fan of Patrick Ness. This is the third book of his that I've read, and although A Monster Calls is impressively short, it packs a lot of punch.

Patrick Ness is incredibly talented because his writing style changes depending on the book. A Monster Calls had elegant yet simple writing. Words and stories were huge parts of the plot, and I thought that the balance between fantastical fairy tale and gritty contemporary was well walked.

Let it be known that I am not one to seek out short books. I often feel like there is little character development or story, but that was far from the case in A Monster Calls. In fact, I'm surprised at how much actually occurred. The story dives into the plot and the writing is very condensed. Every scene happens for a reason, and this is a book I could easily analyze for an essay in a language class, just because there are so many literary elements to it. There are symbols, motifs, imagery, and metaphors.

As a reader though, I don't really care about that. The part of the writing that I enjoyed was how powerful it was. Patrick Ness was always in control and the storytelling was superbly done. I don't want to spoil too much, but I will say that the story is engrossing. It pulls you in and, without you even realizing it, your heart is trapped, and then Patrick Ness carves it open.

Okay, so there were feels. Lots of them. I think the beauty in a Monster Calls is the exploration of Conor's relationships, which were all sad yet so real. Conor was someone we can all relate to, and my heart broke for him over and over. The poor kid didn't have it easy, and I think the best way of explaining A Monster Calls is that the story wasn't cheesy and sad in all the typical ways. I teared up because of little things that again, I won't spoil. And when there were big moments, I bawled.

I understood Conor. Conor was a real character to me, and someone that I could relate to on a personal level. It wasn't like he was perfect. On one hand, he did something incredibly hurtful and stupid and I remember being upset. But I was mostly upset at me too because I can relate to his feelings and there are things I feel ashamed about too. And I love him. I genuinely feel love for Conor and his situation.

Now, this review is about as vague as they come and beyond mentioning Conor's name, I realize I actually haven't told you what the book is about. That's because I didn't read a synopsis before I started this one. I picked A Monster Calls because I heard it was good, and I had read it fully experiencing every new development. I didn't read the synopsis, and I'm happy I didn't, because otherwise, maybe I would have set some barriers up before reading. This book wreaks emotional havoc, and it's so much of a learning experience that I think it's best to go into A Monster Calls knowing it's good, and discovering the elements of why and what sort of story it is, by yourself. In fact, I'm only writing a review because I want people to go read A Monster Calls and experience it. So, what are you waiting for? Do it.

There's nothing else I really want to write about except that I want a copy of this for myself. I want to read it when I'm down and when I'm happy to remind myself of the importance of truth. I related to Conor so strongly that I think that I can get lessons out of A Monster Calls for myself. And, I will be recommending this to everyone I know. Because everyone needs to read big small books full of beautiful small big moments.


-P.E.


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The Weekly Progress: Two Weeks Left 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.

Last week was the last full week of school left. This week is a three day week, and then there are exams, prom, and graduation. Busy times before summer vacation!

Book Read


I don't know how I lucked out into picking this one up even when I had never heard about it on any blog, but guys, this was really good. It's written by a Canadian author and takes place in Vancouver where it's about a pretty current issue, missing women. It was written for the author's sister, and this book scared me. But, I think it's so powerful. 

I also read less than 50 pages of Stormdancer and I wrote a mini-review for it. It counts as too little to be a book I fully read, though. 

Currently Reading


Didn't start it, and I'm not sure how far I'll get into it. Still, I'm expecting some great things. 

On the Blog


Mari featured A Thousand Pieces of You for her WoW. 

Next was some forward thinking as I considered the future of blogging. I'm happy to see that text as content isn't completely done.

Oh, and TSC is one and we're doing a giveaway (our first!) where there will be two winners who will receive one of two books: Red Rising or The Winner's Curse. It's international. #winning


The Week That Was

More winding down as senior year ends. At this point, I'm getting relieved that it's ending. I feel like in a way, I'm already out the door because all I think about is next year. Keeping marks up and staying motivated is hard. 

I also picked my courses! Half of them are political science courses, and I don't know what to expect. Hopefully, minimal essays (believe it or not, I despise writing long pieces) and lots of learning. Also, one very exciting course on Natural Disasters. ;)

It's also the World Cup! I really didn't care that much until I saw my dad and he cares a lot. He's so excited and I guess the enthusiasm is contagious. I know some people see events like the World Cup and the Olympics as useless, but I don't think they are. I know that in some places, like Iran where my dad grew up, soccer wasn't  just a game. It's a distraction. It's honour and hope for a country. It's a pretty enormous display of nationalism, and just by watching a few of the games, while soccer is not my favourite sport (hockey is much more exciting), the passion in the stands is incredible. I think I would love to go to a World Cup one day. Also, I would love if Canada got in it too. Our women are pretty great and it's time for the guys to catch up. 

Song of the Week

I like this song! The lyrics are so ballady in a way because they're so clear. I love the vocals, and the message certainly gets across. It's a very listenable song, and I like it! I haven't been listening to too many new songs, so it's impressive that this song made it. Knock You Out by Bingo Players. 



Have a great week!
-P.E.

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Review: Finnikin of the Rock


Author: Melina Marchetta
Date of Publication: Sept, 29, 2008
Pages: 416
Source: Library

Finnikin of the Rock and his guardian, Sir Topher, have not been home to their beloved Lumatere for ten years. Not since the dark days when the royal family was murdered and the kingdom put under a terrible curse. But then Finnikin is summoned to meet Evanjalin, a young woman with an incredible claim: the heir to the throne of Lumatere, Prince Balthazar, is alive.

Evanjalin is determined to return home and she is the only one who can lead them to the heir. As they journey together, Finnikin is affected by her arrogance . . . and her hope. He begins to believe he will see his childhood friend, Prince Balthazar, again. And that their cursed people will be able to enter Lumatere and be reunited with those trapped inside. He even believes he will find his imprisoned father.

But Evanjalin is not what she seems. And the truth will test not only Finnikin's faith in her . . . but in himself.


Review:

Finnikin of the Rock was one of those inevitable reads. I've heard fantastic reviews about Melina Marchetta's work and have always known that I would read her books, especially the Lumatere Chronicles. I finally took the plunge when P.E. recommended I read it and I think I found a new favourite.

This book is a high fantasy novel of the highest order. There is a distinct style of world building that is very different from anything I've seen before. Marchetta has manage to construct a world so intricate that it sometimes causes one to stop and marvel at it's perfection. 

Culture isn't often incorporated into books but Finnikin of the Rock was nothing if not a tribute to the Lumatere's culture; a culture that was passed through stories. The stories were the first thing to catch my attention. They were epic tales of victory and love, teaching it's listeners the way of Lumatere and it's heroes. 

The world building was aided by the stories and when it all come together we are presented with a realistic and colourful image of multiple tribes of people working together to go back home. We also learned about the neighbouring countries, their governments, their political and social standings. This made for an engrossing and rich read.

My main issue with the novel ended up being one that the author created purposefully. Many people probably didn't even bat an eye at  Evanjelin the main female lead, but couldn't get over her. She was a strong courageous leader but she lead through lies and deceptions. I hated her with a passion. She was conniving, deceiving, manipulative and she was the main catapult that moved the plot. If something happened to further the plot it was because Evangeline deceived someone to do something. She was too secretive and although that was half the point, I still wasn't happy. I didn't like Evanjelin for most of the book but I think she redeemed herself by the end. 

I realize that Evangeline's role was all preplanned and led to a great end but while I was reading I hated her. Looking back I wouldn't be happy to judge the book based on a pet peeve and so I thought it was important to mention but Finnikin of the Rock is too good for me to base my review on just that aspect.

There is too much to love and appreciate in this book. The characters are fantastic. I adored Finn, he was such an amazing young man. I'm not a big reader of male POV's but his is unmatched. My favourite characters were the members of the King's Guard, especially Perri the Savage, Travanion's second in command. I think he was a great representation of how one's family doesn't define them. Perri was a lot like Sirius Black and I love Sirius.

Marchetta managed to build a vivid landscape and people in this book. I adored the images that ran through my head whilst reading Finnikin of the Rock. I can still see his bright red hair, the battles at sea and the curse replaying in my head. The history with the forest dwellers was one that I adored. It's something to relateable because we humans have done many things to others that we perceive as different. Marchetta has written a golden novel and everyone should give it a try.

 

 -MARI


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The Sirenic Codex Is One! And You Can Win Red Rising or The Winner's Curse!

A discussion between P.E. and Mari.

OMG The Sirenic Codex is officially one! It's been a long process, and it's crazy to see our baby growing up. Mari and I started this blog last year, almost on a whim. It was something we talked about for a while, and it wasn't until we decided to close our previous blogs and move on that the process sped up. Throughout the year, there were some mishaps, but I think we're both extremely happy with how the blog has done through it first year.

So Mari, what has been the highlight of blogging for this past year?

That's an easy one. It's our amazing followship. The TSC doesn't have a huge following but the people we have are the best kind of book friends. We enjoy reading everyone's comments and replying to each and every one of them. You guys are so appreciated and we couldn't have done it without you. Some one once said comments are better than cookies and the comments on the TSC are definitely better.

I'm pretty sure I said that. Funny, because I'm eating cookies right now! Beyond the readers, whom I adore obviously, my highlight has been being very proud of some of my work. I like writing, and I feel like this year especially, I worked hard to try to write posts worth reading. I'm nowhere near where I want to be, but there are some reviews and discussion posts that I'm extremely proud of.

Definitely, I'm very happy with how far the blog has come and all the work we've put into it. I've enjoyed doing the cover wars meme which was my favourite from your old blog. Also, I love being able to do these conversation type discussion posts. I also believe that I've one some of my best work on this blog. Here are some of my favourites:
There is much to be proud of. All these posts made me smile whilst writing and I enjoy reading them, I hope everyone else did too. How about you? What are your favourites?

Obviously, the best has yet to come, but my favourites include

Yeah, we had a great run. I think we've done great so far. So great, and a lot of it has to do with our readers. So, for TSC's first birthday, we will be hosting a giveaway. And not just any giveaway: we will be giving away one of our favourite books.

P.E.'s Choice

I'm giving away Red Rising by Pierce Brown. Red Rising is one of my favourite books ever, and I adore everything about the book. It has an epic story and plot, and you can read my insanely gushy review of it here.

Mari's Choice

I'll be giving away one of my favourite books of this year and a Cover Wars favourite: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski. I absolutely loved this book and you an read more in my review.  

Terms and Conditions

  • If you're a minor, have your parent's permission. 
  • There will be two winners. The first winner will be contacted first, and will have their choice of book. The second winner gets the other book. 
  • This giveaway is international as long as The Book Depository ships to you. However, The Sirenic Codex reserves the right to get you your brand new book from the most cost efficient source possible (Barnes & Noble, we could buy and mail it, or use another site). 
  • The information you provide will only be used for the purposes of this giveaway. 
  • We can't control shipping/handling and won't be liable for any damage your book might incur. If it gets lost, due to monetary restrictions we will be unable to send you another one. 
  • Finally, this giveaway is meant for the people that have been supporting The Sirenic Codex for the past year. You all mean a lot to us, and we hope you enjoy your prizes.

Thank you so much for everything! Enjoy!




a Rafflecopter giveaway

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What's the future of blogging?

This story, about the Associated Press creating word limits caught my eye a few weeks ago. It was at that time that I found a piece that I currently can't find about the emergence of video as the new text. The article explained that newer generations (mine, my sister's) have grown up with so much immediate access to information that we don't want to read it anymore, we want the instant gratification and something that won't let us get distracted; the future is video.



As a blogger, this concerned me because every week, I produce many written works and I have been wondering so much about the future of blogging. 

When I first joined blogging some years ago, it was different. The blogs were bubbly and new; the ARCs were flowing; everything was original because it had never happened before. I remember there was almost an unwritten code for how to act; bubbly and sweet, and I also remember many more blogs of lower quality. Review requests by publishers were a lot more free flowing, and I remember getting some right away. 

Now, I believe the blogging community has matured, and is more focused on creating better content. Most blogs look good; most bloggers know the basic rules. Publishers have also become more restrictive with their ARCs. For example, Mari and I don't receive near as many review requests as I did at Tantalizing Illusions, even if our work here is better written, and we have about double to triple the page views. 

These are my impressions, and I very well could be wrong. It's clear that the blogging community is constantly evolving, and in no way is that a bad thing. What I can't help but wonder though is when will the community reach its peak?

Or has it already done so? 

I never knew about BookTube until this year when I saw some tweets by Giselle. I'm not a video person in the slightest, and yet this new medium for bookish fandom intrigues me. I've looked at a few videos since then and they seem to do what we do as writers, but they make videos. And it was then that I remembered the theory that in the future, it will be video that is the most digested medium for information. 

Obviously, as a blogger, I'm curious about this. 





Furthermore, with the controversy at BEA about the panel with the BookTuber, I can't help thinking about the future of book blogging.

Will be all become super high tech? Every blog is always searching for new ways to attract readers. Will we be seeing more multimedia news resources? And, as blog readers, do you tire of reading long, written pieces? 

I don't know the answers to any of these questions, and I'd love to read your thoughts in the comments!

-P.E.

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WoW - A Thousand Pieces of You


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

A Thousand Pieces of You

November 4, 2014

Every Day meets Cloud Atlas in this heart-racing, space- and time-bending, epic new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray.

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

I love the sounds of this one, the Cloud Atlas comparison is very intriguing. I usually enjoy Claudia Grey's writing so I hope it's as good as it seems. Also, I love the Russian architecture on the cover. It's a gorgeous cover.

-MARI 

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Cover Wars: A Beauty So Beastly vs. A Thousand Pieces of You


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.

It was a close one but A Thousand Pieces of You managed to prevail and is back to face A Beauty So Beastly by RaShelle Workman.


Two distinct but stunning covers. A Beauty So Beastly's cover is a wonderful new twist on the classical Beauty and the Beast Covers. We have have a girl in a dress but the dress isn't the main focus same goes to the staircase. Instead it's the thorny rose whose vines climb up the stairs and around the model, engulfing her and the building.

A Thousand Pieces of You is another gorgeous cover. It's bright and modern looking, with a nice pallet of colours starting with the pastels and moving on to the radiant reds. I also love the reflection effect with the two different skylines.

As always, you have a week to vote!

LET THE VOTING COMMENCE!


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

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Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory

18079527Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Date of Publication: January 7, 2014
Pages: 391
Source: Library

For the past five years, Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.





Review:

I began this story quite unremarkably. I wasn't very into the plot, nor the characters. I just didn't get it and my emotional connection was lacking. It took one scene in order to turn the tide. It was an incredibly heartfelt scene between father and daughter that was so awkward and sad, and Andy said something so tragic, and I guess I could relate to it more than I'm comfortable to admit.

The true star of The Impossible Knife of Memory is the father-daughter relationship. Family and all its intricacies, all the hate and love, was on full display. I thought it was incredibly genuine. I fell for Hayley and her need to take care of her father. I fell for Andy and how lost he was in the world.

It was the first time I read about a character with PTSD. I didn't know too much about PTSD but I do know that war has impacts on people. It was heartbreaking to read the little bits about Andy as he remembered what happened. He was a brilliant person but sometimes he faded as his past haunted him. Reading about Haley as she protected him, and seeing how strange their family was, and yet how unique they were, made the story so genuine.

Hayley was someone whom I considered quite bitter and reserved and she grew on me. Hayley had the previously fatal flaw of thinking everyone besides her was so typically mainstream and zombies while somehow she was different and special and real. Normally, I frown upon this kind of arrogance, but for Hayley it worked because it was explainable. Her character developed and grew. She was faced with many temptations and while she was a bitch sometimes, she was sweet other times. She didn't know she had a future and seeing her grow was great.

There was even a romance, which I'm not normally a big fan of, but in this case it worked well. I don't understand how they got so attracted to each other so fast, or the initial spark, but I don't deny that their love was genuine. Finn was adorably complex and intelligent. He's funny and charming and the type of guy I can get behind because he had so much personality. I liked that the people Hayley had relationships with were actually real people. They had backgrounds and concerns in story lines that weren't all about Hayley.

So obviously, characterization was strong. This was effectuated through awesome writing. The writing never took away from the story and was emotional when it needed to be and detached when it needed to be. Furthermore, the plot was pretty good. I'm not much of a contemporary reader to begin with so I was pleasantly surprised when The Impossible Knife of Memory proved to be an engrossing read. The ending was especially powerful, and you could see it coming but I still teared up. That was a little problematic because I was reading it on a screaming bus of mature seniors on the way to a field trip to an amusement park. I tried so hard to keep the tears in, and I think the ending was well done because it allowed for the possibility of failure or success.

I shouldn't be surprised to enjoy this book, but I was. I think it was a good story, and it gets 3 stars.


 

-P.E.


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