Vacation Reading List

Whenever I go for a vacation, books are a travelling necessity. Often I take both physical and electronic copies to keep me company. How would I be a complete book nerd if I didn't? Kidding.

This year I'm going to the United States for my vacation. Visiting New York, Connecticut and Atlantic City. Basically city to small town to beach resort so it's really hard to do a theme read which I'm not a fan of either way. Instead I'm going to compile a list of books that I'm dying to read and will probably dig into on the ride there.



Gilded Ashes - Rosamund Hodge

I got this one from the library so I have to read it soon or the ebook will expire. I think this is a good starter read as it will be light and quick. Also, I adored Cruel Beauty! Update: I actually read and loved this one, review to come.

Crash Into You - Katie McGarry

Another follow up for a book I loved. I actually read Pushing the Limits, Dare You To, skipped this one and read Take Me On. Now I want to give this one a go.

Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin

I've been slowly reading this one for year. I'm almost done the latest season but have yet to build up the courage and make up my mind to finish this.

Looking For Alaska - John Green

(MID-VACATION ADDITION)
I actually bought this one a few days ago and am dying to have a John Green book under my reading belt!

I have my Kobo Ereader with me for the vacation so I might find something else to read if my mood asks for it. Generally, I don't read a lot on vacation because I like to be doing a lot of stuff but I'll try to read through some of these.

What's on or was on your vacation tbr?


While you tell me about your vacation lists, why don't you also help me out. All four look amazing but which to you guys recommend I read first? Leave a comment and vote on the poll. Thanks you!

Which do you recommend?




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-MARI


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Review: HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton

Author: Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes
Date of Publication: February 11 2014
Pages: 448
Source: Library

Hillary Clinton’s surprising defeat in the 2008 Democratic primary brought her to the nadir of her political career, vanquished by a much younger opponent whose message of change and cutting-edge tech team ran circles around her stodgy campaign. And yet, six years later, she has reemerged as an even more powerful and influential figure, a formidable stateswoman and the presumed front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, marking one of the great political comebacks in history.  

The story of Hillary’s phoenixlike rise is at the heart of HRC, a riveting political biography that journeys into the heart of “Hillaryland” to discover a brilliant strategist at work. Masterfully unfolded by Politico’s Jonathan Allen and The Hill’s Amie Parnes from more than two hundred top-access interviews with Hillary’s intimates, colleagues, supporters, and enemies, HRC portrays a seasoned operator who negotiates political and diplomatic worlds with equal savvy. Loathed by the Obama team in the wake of the primary, Hillary worked to become the president’s greatest ally, their fates intertwined in the work of reestablishing America on the world stage. HRC puts readers in the room with Hillary during the most intense and pivotal moments of this era, as she mulls the president-elect’s offer to join the administration, pulls the strings to build a coalition for his war against Libya, and scrambles to deal with the fallout from the terrible events in Benghazi—all while keeping one eye focused on 2016. 

HRC offers a rare look inside the merciless Clinton political machine, as Bill Clinton handled the messy business of avenging Hillary’s primary loss while she tried to remain above the partisan fray. Exploring her friendships and alliances with Robert Gates, David Petraeus, Leon Panetta, Joe Biden, and the president himself, Allen and Parnes show how Hillary fundamentally transformed the State Department through the force of her celebrity and her unparalleled knowledge of how power works in Washington. Filled with deep reporting and immersive storytelling, this remarkable portrait of the most important female politician in American history is an essential inside look at the woman who may be our next president

Review:

Full disclosure: I know extremely little about American politics. I chose HRC in an effort to diversify my reading and explore an area I'm interested, politics, through a famous female politician in Hillary Clinton.

HRC is possibly one of the must unreadable books I have ever read. It is full of names of people I don't know, and it acts like a really long newspaper article that goes crazy on the details. There are so many little facts but the actual substance, as in what you're supposed to be getting out of it, is very little. A lot of it is incredibly repetitive in theme, and it doesn't touch much on actual political ideology. It's more about the people behind the politics, and even then it's about their teams, but not really. It is not cohesive because it jumps around from chapter to chapter with very little actual vision. In my head when I sum it up, it's a mess.

The title is misleading too. The 'state secrets' part is kind of useless because it doesn't talk that much about what the secrets would be. The book is also very pro-Hillary and never misses an opportunity to laud Hillary with ethics or intelligence. Again, I don't know much about her, and that hasn't really changed except I've been bombarded with how hard she works in this book.

The details are outrageously unnecessary. I randomly flipped to a page and read a paragraph, and it's during the chapter about Benghazi. The White House asked if Hillary Clinton would appear for some sort of briefing. The next paragraph is a completely unnecessary paragraph about the myth in Hillary land of not appearing on Sunday morning TV, and how actually, she's been on one program nine times so really, that's not really fair to say, and she's always fair and judicious, and she didn't think there would be anything to gain from a TV appearance. This was just so utterly unnecessary. The whole paragraph could have been summed up in, "Hillary didn't often appear on Sunday television and she chose not to talk about Benghazi because she saw no advantage in it." In fact, HRC would be a brilliant exercise book for people to practice summarizing paragraphs or chapters because so much could be summarized and shortened.

Now, I"ll give the authors some credit. The amount of information they have accumulated is pretty substantial. HRC is all about nitty gritty Senator Y and Obama aide X and it was hard to read through because at some point, I kept asking myself, what am I actually getting out of this?

I still finished HRC because of the novelty factor. It's so different from what I normally read that I had to give it a try. My enjoyment dipped when it came to some of the actual countries and disputes and I guess you could say I'm a dove to Hillary's hawk.

My impression after reading HRC is that I am very interested in the world of foreign affairs. I'll also be trying more politics books in the future, except with more of a focus on the political decisions than the mechanics. I'm not exactly sure how to rate HRC seeing as I have no point of comparison and thus don't know if it's any better or worse than other politics books. I guess I'll keep this review unrated.

-P.E.

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Review: The 5th Wave

Author: Rick Yancey
Date of Publication: May 7 2013
Pages: 480
Source: Library

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker.


Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Review:

I knew I would enjoy The 5th Wave. I didn't know what to expect, but it was a foregone conclusion that I would like it. Sometimes, you can just tell, and maybe that sounds weird to some people but I do have a sort of intuition for some books where I know I'll like them. The 5th Wave was a book I had been coveting since the first time I saw the cover and read the synopsis, and so it shouldn't surprise anyone that it was a really good story.

The premise slays.

It's killer awesome with so much potential to be one of those really epic stories with loads of action and depth. There is definitely a thoughtful aspect to The 5th Wave, and what I like is that the story is crafted well. It seems like it's a confident story because it's long with many ambitious components that have worked out.

The beginning is quite slow, with some info dumping, and it works in this format. I've always said that I'm okay with information being given through flashbacks if that means the story can begin in the thick of the plot, and that's what The 5th Wave does. It meanders along, explaining what happened to the world and building an emotional connection to Cassie, our main character. This is actually quite a chunk of the novel, the part where nothing really happens except what previously occurred is being explained, and it's slow, I know, but I found it interesting all the same.

The first part is a realistic depiction of the apocalypse. I loved seeing the details like how the government and society reacted, and what different individuals thought of the random space ship that appeared above the Earth. I also enjoyed getting to know Cassie, who by the end of The 5th Wave grows quite a bit from what she was like before. She's a very sassy character but she has a conscience and I thought she was rude sometimes, but I also thought she was realistic to me. In the end, I respect her and fully support her.

So many apocalyptic novels end there, with the gloomy memories and vague beginnings of a plot. The 5th Wave however is a much stronger story than most novels, and it decided that it's going to prove how badass it is by ramping it up as you read, so by the end, the actions scenes were so intense that I skipped whole paragraphs as I was reading because I was on such an adrenaline rush. I had to force myself to slow down and reread some parts, focusing on every word, because I was that excited to see what would happen next.

The ending was bittersweet, but more importantly, it was a satisfying end to a satisfying book. The 5th Wave is a complete read because it has a relatively self-contained story, and while there's quite obviously room for more in the overall story arc, lots of stuff happens in this book.

The one struggle with The 5th Wave is that I can't mention a lot of what I usually consider in a review because so much of the The 5th Wave is tension, suspense, and mystery. Where's the fun in knowing everything?

So I guess the most relevant, vague thing I can say is that Rick Yancey is a writer able to inject identifiable personality into his writing, and he is quite good at developing all the typical things one would expect from a book, like character, plot, and some phenomenal world building.

The 5th Wave is ideal for those looking for a gritty, somewhat thoughtful apocalyptic story that will no doubt turn into a fantastic movie, seeing as the book was quite cinematic. I flew by The 5th Wave and it's one story that I would recommend. 4 stars.


-P.E.



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Where have we been?

Sometimes, it just so happens that two co-bloggers are faced with super eventful weeks at the same time. It sucks, eh?

Mari is on an awesome trip to NYC, no doubt scouting cool places to visit for BEA next year. We're hoping to go, and it should be beyond awesome. She's enjoying her trip to all the classic tourist attractions, and from what I've heard, she's having fun. She has limited internet access.

I, on the other hand, do have internet, but am currently going through orientation week. It basically means my free time is at a minimum as I adjust to university life. So far, it has been so much fun. There are a few problems, like the lack of a close library, but I'll get to them eventually.

Anyway, this was just a quick heads up to let you guys know what was up with us. Hope you've been well!

-P.E.


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Discussion: Managing Long Distance Blogging



A discussion between P.E. & Mari.

P.E.: By the time this post is posted, Mari and I will be in university, but our blogging worlds will have changed. I'm moving away, and we're going to continue blogging. This means there have to be some changes though, and there will be some challenges. Mari, what do you think?

MARI: Eek, we haven't really spoke much about it mostly because we're both going into this new stage partially blind not knowing what to expect. I'm nervous but I think we're both quite dedicated so we will definitely try our best with time management. What I will miss is being able to speak to you directly about blog things. It's always great to be able to discuss things in person instead of over text or phone.  What are your questions and concerns?

P.E.: I guess I also worry about communication. I kind of hate texting after a while and I know that other people don't enjoy phone calls as much as I do. I would like to do some sort of video chat, but I don't know how to go about it: do you even have the software? Should we continue and be random about our interactions or should we have some sort of weekly run down over what's happening? I don't think it will be too bad because we haven't seen each other much this summer and we're doing fine, but I wonder what happens when we're not on each other's wavelength and we aren't exposed to the same culture and perspectives. For all we know, being in such different environments could be a godsend because it will bring the blog some fresh new perspectives?

MARI: There definitely are many ways. I think for the regular check ups and questions we can do what we usually do; text. But Skype is another option for when we have plans and ideas. I know we spend quite a few hours over the phone and in person, discussing some of our earlier ideas like The Perception Project that we did with Eden and some of the other features that have popped up on the blog (Best of Saturday, Thursday Thoughts etc). I think one of the keys to our success thus far has been organization and there are some tools that have helped us with that but nothing more than Google Calender. It's what I always check and it lets us know if were short on posts and such. In a way it serves as a communication device between us without us having to say much.

P.E.: Have you heard of Viber? I don't know the differences between that and Skype, but I know most of my family uses that instead of Skype, so it would be the one I would end up downloading. I do agree with Google Calendar being huge. The only issue with that is when we have posts we want to schedule a certain way and the other person doesn't know, and we go through this game of rescheduling posts all the time until someone gets fed up and explains why post B has to go after post A. :p

MARI: No I haven't. Most of my family and I included, use Skype. It's just been around longer or has been marketed to us and hence we know and use it. I think Google Calendar's pros outweigh the cons and the cons are not something significant that we have had problems with more than once. Communication aside, I think there is one more thing standing between us now; schedules. We may be both going into business schools but they are different schools and we have the demanding university schedules and work schedules as well. How do you think we will handle that, any plans or ideas?


P.E: Frankly, that's something I've tried to avoid thinking about. Obviously, life *always* comes before blogging, and I worry a little about what my life is going to become. I figure the best way to deal with it is to do what we've done so far: if we plan posts very far in advance and give ourselves time to breathe. I feel like preparation is key, and that's my solution. Also, we should let the other now that a certain time means we can't post, like how I told you that I can't do Friday nights/Saturdays. What do you think?

Mari: It's really hard to know, I think we have to be in the moment to know for sure. But to some degree, this summer itself has been practice. We've both been busy with life but have always designated time to spend on the blog as well, no matter how late (it's currently 12am on a sunday and I need to wake up early tomorrow). In the end, it's just going to be another experience, let's just go with the flow and see where it takes us?!

Thanks everyone for bearing with us as we go through this new transition. Do you have any tips or experiences to share with us?


-MARI

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Review: Four

Author: Veronica Roth
Date of Publication: July 8, 2014
Pages: 285
Source: Gift

Readers first encountered Tobias Eaton as "Four" in Divergent. His voice is an integral part of Allegiant. Readers will find more of this charismatic character's backstory told from his own perspective in Four: A Divergent Collection. When read together, these long narrative pieces illuminate the defining moments in Tobias Eaton's life. The first three pieces in this volume--"The Transfer," "The Initiate," and "The Son"--follow Tobias's transfer from Abnegation to Dauntless, his Dauntless initiation, and the first clues that a foul plan is brewing in the leadership of two factions. The fourth story, "The Traitor," runs parallel with the events of Divergent, giving readers a glimpse into the decisions of loyalty--and love--that Tobias makes in the weeks after he meets Tris Prior.

Review:
I wasn't planning on reading this book. I didn't even give it a thought until my brother bought it for me. Now, how could I deny a Divergent novel, more importantly a book about Four? Correct, I couldn't so I did the only thing I could do; I devoured it!

I re-read Divergent a few months ago and I became aware of exactly how mysterious and distant Four is. We hardly get to see through his facade and that's tough. I love Four, because he is brave, honourable, caring and adorable but I didn't know him until now.

One of my favourite things was reading about Four's childhood and his relationship with his parents and faction. We all know about the abuse he suffered but not the extent. My heart really went out to Four in this one. I've not read many books dealing with abuse but I think Roth managed to portray the mixture of emotions a victim of the situation might feel very well.

Four was so different from the calm and collected persona that he portrays to other. I loved seeing in his mind and seeing how he is always nervous and second guessing himself; it makes him relatable. It also takes him off his perfect pedestal and makes him human.

The book is quite short, approximately 300 pages but it sheds a lot of light onto one of the major characters in the series, who in my opinion needs more pages. Now that I've read Four's perspective, I think I'm going to have a hard time going back to Tris.

For those who are considering reading this book; do it. It will rekindle your love for the series and it's characters, it will also help connect somethings you've read before. For me, I haven't read Allegiant (no spoilers please) and all the negative reviews were starting to get to me, but this has revived my interest in the series. At this point I want to see how the story goes down for myself.

Overall, I really enjoyed it. It was light, interesting and a pleasure to read. I recommend it!


-MARI

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Cover Wars: Unspeakable vs. Made For 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.

Made For You came back victorious this week and as per the usual it's back for another round. This type versus Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton.


Fire, Earth, Water Wind. These two covers have a little bit of all. There is the peace of a nice walk in a green field while the other one is another type of calm; one of the deep blue.

Unspeakable has some unique qualities. I like the cut out silhouette  and the placement of the title is a nice use of space that manages to appeal tot he eyes as well work quite well with the ongoing green theme.


What do you think? As always, you have a week to vote. 

LET THE COVER WARS... BEGIN!


Which cover should win Cover Wars?
 
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Review: Blackout

Author: Robison Wells
Date of Publication: October 1 2013
Pages: 432
Source: Library Ebook

Laura and Alec are trained terrorists.

Jack and Aubrey are high school students.

There was no reason for them to ever meet.

But now, a mysterious virus is spreading throughout America, infecting teenagers with impossible powers. And these four are about to find their lives intertwined in a complex web of deception, loyalty, and catastrophic danger—where one wrong choice could trigger an explosion that ends it all.

Review:

Blackout is an incredibly frustrating read. It has an interesting premise, but being the impatient person that I am, I am irritated that I've read the first book and I still don't understand why what's happening is happening.

In Blackout, for some reason, teens with powers that come from mutations are going around committing acts of terrorism. You really learn absolutely nothing about why they're doing this, and very little is learned of how. The story just kind of forces you to accept what is happening. Normally, I can do that, but Blackout was maddening. There are a group of characters that I don't understand and it's deliberate. They're not likable either: I don't know if they're psychos or if they have their reasons. The mystery of it all is driving me crazy.

I think that's the first thing to know about Blackout: this is a book that will raise endless questions with no answers. That means the world building is incredibly strange because on the one hand, due to the fact that the narration is being done by both terrorist teens and innocent kids you know more about what's happening then the innocents do, but you know less than the minds of the people that are blowing up bridges and dams. So where does that leave you?



Utterly confused. There is mystery but there's no release or relief. The questions pour on but the answers don't. And I guess I'm not into that kind of storytelling.

Besides that, I feel like Blackout is surprisingly light on actual details and substance. I don't find the world plausible (this being the parts I do know of). The characters with powers get away with too much and I think the technology from the military is ridiculously insufficient. I mean, I know little about the military, but I would assume every room in a military compound would be videotaped and there would be microphones. Also, land mines around the entire district from a fence. I'm really talking out of my ass here because I don't know if Blackouts descriptions are really quite accurate, but it's far less fun than a story like this sounds.

Also, I don't like the characters. That doesn't mean I hate them. I don't find any of them that interesting, except for Alec who is messed up but smart enough that I can't help but wondering about his motives. The characters aren't well fleshed out enough for me, and I personally can't relate to them. Like Aubry who can't afford anything but can drive? Like, how? Cars and tests are expensive and if she can't afford new clothes, how does she afford lessons or a car to practice? That's insanely nitpicky but it's the type of thing I wonder because there isn't much of an attention to detail. Jack doesn't really care about his family. I don't know them at all, and at one point he contemplates killing someone for Audrey. Their relationship moved too fast for me, especially considering how easily and shallowly it was broken off in the first place. Also, I really hope that Aubrey isn't shallow enough to have given up her friends for some popularity that she didn't even enjoy.



I think on all levels, Blackout didn't work for me. What it was however is readable. The idea is fun enough- kids with superpowers!- but I thought the execution wasn't that good because there was nothing in the story I ended up loving, but a lot that irritated me. Blackout ends up being a very light read without much emotion, but surprisingly engrossing all the same because the mystery of motive. Maybe not everyone cares about that as much as I do, but knowing so little was incredibly frustrating. It was like I was perpetually in the dark. (Get it? Blackout?)

Anyway, I want to know the why so badly so if anyone ever reads the sequel, please email me telling me what these attacks are all about because as it stands, I'm not interested in reading more of this tease, which arouses interest and then just ends. (The ending was incredibly abrupt. I was shocked when I flicked the page and there were acknowledgements. Nooo it can't end there. Ugh.) I have quite a few negative thoughts towards Blackout so it gets 1 star from me. Although this one could get 2 because it did manage to get me invested in something, even if it did irritate me.

Final reaction gif?



-P.E.



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Review: Otherbound

Author: Corinne Duyvis
Date of Publication: June 17 2014
Pages: 387
Source: Library Ebook

Amara is never alone. Not when she's protecting the cursed princess she unwillingly serves. Not when they're fleeing across dunes and islands and seas to stay alive. Not when she's punished, ordered around, or neglected.

She can't be alone, because a boy from another world experiences all that alongside her, looking through her eyes.

Nolan longs for a life uninterrupted. Every time he blinks, he's yanked from his Arizona town into Amara's mind, a world away, which makes even simple things like hobbies and homework impossible. He's spent years as a powerless observer of Amara's life. Amara has no idea . . . until he learns to control her, and they communicate for the first time. Amara is terrified. Then, she's furious.

All Amara and Nolan want is to be free of each other. But Nolan's breakthrough has dangerous consequences. Now, they'll have to work together to survive--and discover the truth about their connection.


My Review



I'm shocked that Otherbound ended up being a standalone. I suppose that's what you get when you attempt to read books blind of any actual information on said book. What this meant however is that, by the end, I had to reevaluate my thoughts of the story as a whole.

Otherbound drew me in from the very beginning. It's the story of Nolan and Amara who are from two very different worlds and it's about how their lives intersect. Nolan is living two lives. Every time he blinks, he is thrown into Amara's world as a presence inside her head. Amara doesn't know Nolan is there, and her life is more of a fantasy story: she is on the run with a princess and a mage, and she's responsible for protecting the princess from a curse that was cast on her by some evil ministers.

The contrast between the almost contemporary feel of Nolan's life and the fantasy of Amara's was jarring, but in a good way. It was impressive how Nolan and Amara had such different lives and concerns, and the way they interacted was realistic to me. I also thought that adding this other layer to a fantasy story just made it elevated because there were some big questions that were asked and answered. Nolan often felt like he wasn't really living any life because his whole life was dominated by Amara's, and that's something he had to figure out.

The diversity in the story was very strong. Nolan's parents speak Spanish, and Amara's world is full of people of colour. The diversity wasn't a subplot, and what I loved was that it was simply there. I'm just saying that many would enjoy how naturally everything was integrated into the story.

I ended up being incredibly engrossed in the plot from the start, but it did kind of wear at me eventually. The story ended up being different from what I wanted and I kind of think if there was a weakness, it would be the characterization of the villains(s). Frankly, I thought what they did, especially the motive was stupid and when you have a story so well thought out, having such sucky villains kind of cheapens everything. That's why I have some issues with how I would rate this story. Everything was complex, but the villains really weren't.

I also think that so much focus was put on the characters that the actual plot almost fell by the backside. I thought the emotions were genuine, but the story arc was weaker than it felt while reading, now that I look back at it. I don't think the plot was that strong, while the main characters were. Every other character had their moments, but weren't really the focus of the story.

All in all, I did think the plot and villains were a weakness, but the main characters and writing was nice. The story does capture you, but I thought it wasn't as good of a story as I would have thought from the beginning. I guess with that, I'd rate Otherbound between 3 and 4 stars. I did like it as a whole, and thought it was really good at some parts. The negatives are still significant, and I think for that it gets downgraded from 4 stars. So I'll give it the very rare, almost impossible to get half star. 3.5 stars for a story that for the most part I really liked.


-P.E.


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Thursday Thoughts: Amazon, Reviews and Attachments, Back to Blogging

This is a new feature that will be looking at blogging, books, and anything of any relevance to the YA Blogosphere in short form. It's meant to start a discussion by offering quick thoughts from Mari and P.E. on a variety of topics. 

Amazon is Evil?



by P.E.

I assume everyone has heard of the Hachette/Amazon dispute, and the letter that was sent out, and I suppose everyone has formed their own opinion. I can't really comment on what's happening between Hachette and Amazon because frankly, I don't know enough. However, I'm more inclined to want to limit the power Amazon has. That's because Amazon is building a monopoly. They are a retailer and they're trying to become the seller of ebooks. And as a Canadian already screwed because our phone/tv/internet companies overcharge because there's only a few options, I don't think it's safe for the book industry to have Amazon dominate them so much. They'll build a monopoly, there will be little viable competition, and then there will be little incentive to have good prices or continue to progress. I guess I want to see some alternatives to Amazon, and am hoping for good things from places like Smashwords. 

The Invisible Threads Attached: Reviewers POV


by Mari

It's always horrible when we come to dislike a book. But it's worse in the case of books that have been sent to us for review. We're pumped because we obviously thought it was going to be good and the publisher and authors are also pumped because they can share what they love with us and through us, also get some attention. Then everything goes wrong and out comes the negative review. We as reviewers feel bad and I know some sites have even adopted a positive review only policy like I Eat Words. Here at The Sirenic Codex we like to share our negative reviews because we like to read them. I always go through a positive and negative review to decide if I want to read a certain book. However, this doesn't help the sense of guilt. I've recently started using Net Galley more because I want to build my profile and as a result I'm even more concerned when I rate a book negatively because in that case, it's not just my readers who are seeing my review but also publishers.

Back to Business




By P.E.

So I took one week off the blog when I visited my aunt's house, and now getting back into blogging is hard. There are posts that need to be written (especially some discussion posts that just aren't happening), books to be read, comments to make, social media, emails to respond to, and gosh you don't realize how much work blogging is until you're away for a bit and then get back to it. It's hard because I'm so overwhelmed with getting back into the rhythm I was before, and it's hard to get back there because there's so much that needs to be done, for the blog and for school. Due to the upcoming commencement of university, I feel this need to make sure a lot of TSC posts are prepped and ready so that I don't have to worry as I'm figuring school and residence out. And I feel all this stress even with a co-blogger. *sigh*

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A Teacher's Impact: Back to School Book Blogger Challenge Day 3

I'm taking part in Parajunkee's Back to School Book Blogger Challenge. Check it out!

Day 3: Share your most memorable school memory.

This is very hard for me considering my life, thus far, has been ALL school. I still remember everything because the school reality still exists for me. I guess then that I'll try to pick one.

I'll pick the one that matters most to me, and obviously omit all names.

So it was during an era that wasn't the best for me. A lot was going on and I didn't trust people very much. At the same time, it's hard to reconcile what you want with who you are.

A teacher I liked told me to stay in after class. I wondered if I was in trouble, but I didn't know because this was one of the teachers I trust. And because I liked her, I tried to make every assignment I did shine. Anyway, she told me to stay in after class and just said some kind words about the type of student I was, and what I was looking to do in the future.

That's it. Maybe it's not the most exciting memory, but it's one that matters, because I really needed it. She was sweet and supportive and to be honest, I really didn't say much to her at the time, but to take time out of her day just to tell a student that they're capable of a lot meant so much.

It's a talk I've never forgotten, and it has truly impacted my life. Not all teachers realize how much of an impact they can have on a student's life, and she is one teacher I won't forget.

-P.E.

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WoW - Exquisite

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

Exquisite

October 7, 2014

Forced to obey her master.
Compelled to help her enemy.
Determined to free herself. 

Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she’s now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command. She’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.

Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother—all for an unbearably high price. Nalia’s not sure she can trust him, but Raif’s her only hope of escape. With her enemies on the hunt, Earth has become more perilous than ever for Nalia. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle…and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him. Battling a dark past and harboring a terrible secret, Nalia soon realizes her freedom may come at a price too terrible to pay: but how far is she willing to go for it?

Inspired by Arabian Nights, EXQUISITE CAPTIVE brings to life a deliciously seductive world where a wish can be a curse and shadows are sometimes safer than the light.
I'm a big fan of enemy love.. in fact I have a whole list dedicated to those types of books on Goodreads. This one just looks like a lot of fun and adventure which is what I'm always looking for.

What are You Waiting For?

-MARI 

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P.E.'s English Class: Back to School Book Blogger Challenge Day 2

I'm taking part in Parajunkee's Back to School Book Blogger Challenge. Check it out!

Day 2: If you were/are an English Teacher, share with us your dream lesson plan as far as reading assignments.


I'm lucky in the sense that I've had one really incredible high school English teacher, and I would probably model my class after hers. I've also had a pretty awesome French teacher, and our French class was basically English class but in French.

Now, I don't really read classics so my class will not have many of those. I'll mostly try to incorporate different themes through modern reads. So, let's look at my reading list!

 
Hyperbole and a Half is the first book my class will read. I picked this one because it focuses on dark subject matter, but it also has some incredibly funny moments. It will be a book we can discuss and laugh over, and it will be a bit of an ice breaker. It also brings in the idea of media, and that's always been part of my English class's curriculum.

 
Crash and Burn is much longer, but it's written in a style that I feel the class would enjoy. The writing is full of voice, and the actual story is twisted, but ends up being powerful. I would give this one to the class so we can talk about our lives, and our interactions with other people. It will expand a little bit on the themes in Hyperbole and a Half.

 
I'll give my class a bit of a break from the length of Crash and Burn and contrast it with A Monster Calls. I feel like both books are so different yet so strong. A Monster Calls is a packed read whereas Crash and Burn is a bit rambly. This one is more literary, and we'll discuss that, along with some rule of threes, and more typically writerly stuff.
 
 
Stolen is a great introduction to the tougher issues that we'll be discussing by the end of the class, and I picked it because there is a lot of symbolism. We'll talk about what different animals and events mean, and we'll also discuss whether did a good job at portraying an abduction, and whether the writing was persuasive. Also, the story is written in second person which very rarely happens, so of course it will be in an English class!
 
 
By this point, I will have more confidence in my class's ability to handle dark material so we'll all read Rabbit Ears by Maggie De Vries. It deals with so many issues, and we can approach it from so many perspectives. We can talk about racism, abuse, homelessness, adoption, family, drugs, everything. I expect that I would get my class to do presentations on these various topics based on Rabbit Ears, and it's a powerful read, so we would also make sure to learn a little bit about the dark part of our society.

Hey! I am capable of reading a classic, you know. So, the last book we read will be the hardest to get through because it is long and very text-booky at times. Still, we will persevere and after looking at issues for our society, we will look at the necessity for activism and put some thought into the future. We will discuss what's happening in our world with drones/police/politics, and the class will end with students being able to focus on the future.

I guess I don't see English class as being about reading comprehension or grammar. Obviously, that is important, but to me, English is where you can be creative and explore the world and the people in it. We'll be dealing with tough issues, and there will be lots of presentations, debates, different types of texts, and lots of discussions. I see this as more of a high school grade 11 or 12 class. Every book will take a couple of weeks to discuss and I'll end up teaching my class the importance of reading really fast. :p

Anyway, I ended up really getting into this topic! What do you think of my class?

-P.E.

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Cover Wars: Made For You vs. Frostfire

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.

Frostfire was victorious again last week. This week the champion is back to face Melissa Marr's newest cover Made For You.


One thing both covers seem to be focusing on is contrasting the warm colours with the cold, specifically blue and white with red. Now it's up to us to decide, which pop of red do we like best?


What do you think? As always, you have a week to vote. 

LET THE COVER WARS... BEGIN!


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

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Hi! I'm P.E. (Back to School Book Blogger Challenge Day 1)

 
School is a big part of our lives here at The Sirenic Codex, and so we're super excited to take part in Parajunkee's Back to School Book Blogger Challenge!
 
Here's what the challenge will look like:
 
 
 
Now I can't guarantee I'll get through all of this on time because I'm actually starting school soon, but I'll give it a shot.
 

Day One

Today is about sharing a little bit about me. I've always found this a difficult question, but I'll do my best.
 
So hi!
 
You know me as P.E., and I've been blogging on The Sirenic Codex with my co-blogger Mari for over a year now. I used to blog on Tantalizing Illusions before. I'm currently entering my first year of university, and it's quite scary and exciting.
 
 
I'm from Canada, although my heritage is Persian. I love Canada and Ottawa, which has been my home for the overwhelming majority of my life. I love that the weather here is intense, and it gets ridiculously hot and ridiculously cold. I love hockey, which actually many Canadians don't like, but I've been converted into liking and I adore my hometown Sens.
 
 
I live with my mom and sister, and kind of my dad, although I'll be moving out to live in residence this week. I'm in a management program, although most of my first year courses are focused on my current interest of politics.
 
 
I believe in social justice, laws, rights, and having a global perspective. I took a philosophy class in high school and the subject interested me, except now I'm not sure how to move forward with it (if you have any good philosophy texts that are readable, please do let me know! I'm considering starting The Birth of Tragedy, is that recommended?). I think it's due to my upbringing and the diversity in my surroundings that have pushed me towards this kind of international focus.
 
My favourite colour is red.

 
My favourite TV show is Game of Thrones, although the show I've been watching for longest now is Supernatural.
 
My favourite movie doesn't exist because I'm not a big movie person.
 
I can not pick a favourite book. Recently I read Torn Away by Jennifer Brown and I bawled my eyes out.
My toothbrush is orange.
 
My favourite stories to read are those with depth and the ones that are powerful and inspire me in some way. I usually like epic stories.
 
I hate needles. I don't like anything that stabs skin, which is why I stopped wearing earrings a few years ago.
 
I also despise bugs.
 
I'm not really sure what else to say, so how about you leave a comment and I'll do my best to answer any questions. I'm really good at advice, although I'm not too good at following my own advice.
 

Your turn!

 

-P.E.

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Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog

Author: Anne Blankman
Date of Publication: April 22, 2014
Pages: 401
Source: Library


In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet. 
Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.
Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews. 
As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?
Review:
Blankman has joined the troop of story weavers whose writing makes me shudder with a mixture of emotions yet keeps me so riveted that I can't bear a moment away from it. Evidently, I was glued to my copy of Prisoner of Night and Fog and for good reason; it is a gold mine.

I adore historical fiction and I feel that I haven't read enough. Those that I have, I remember commenting on their realism and the authors' dedication to staying on point with history. But I've never read something like Prisoner of Night and Fog. This book is the perfect example of a masterful intermingling of real life events and people into fictitious works. To me it is a sign of fantastic things to come.

Blankman managed to not only bring her added characters to life but she breathed a new air to many real life characters. All I've read about Hitler are Wikipedia articles and a few chapters in my Canadian History textbook; not much besides evil! In this book, Blankman showed us a personality, a real life person to which we can attach all our past knowledge. He fascinated me the way a wild beast fascinates curious onlookers. I was always awaiting the breaking point, the time when Blankman would stray from her story and add a little bias, but she never did.

A big part of this book was the Muller family. Gretchen hales from a regular family of shoemakers who by a force of luck (or bad luck) become acquainted with Adolf Hitler in his early days. Their familial struggles were so pure in nature. The everyday struggles of making a living, the expectation of women and the troubles that came with not having a patriarch in the house. I enjoyed reading about Gretchen and her brother Reinhard's relationship. It was fascinating to read as not many authors have tackled a psychopath before. I was thoroughly engrossed and once again horrified.

As for Gretchen, I adored having her as a narrator. She was so young, alive, brave and intelligent. She taught us that one shouldn't just agree to everything they are told without question. To a girl who has never seen anything different, being told that a Jew is a monster isn't hard to believe. But without questions and a need to make our own opinions on things the atrocities would've worsened. Gretchen, albeit being a loyal daughter and follower, is also someone who is true to herself and only that truth and her love for her family helped her find the truth.

Her partner in crime, the sweet Daniel Cohen was a force to be reckoned with. He was so open and eager to help. His dedication to his dreams made him an inspiration. Put him together with Gretchen and the two fit perfectly. Their romance was the slow and deep type. No night of raw passion, just a sweet pure adoration and need to always protect the other on equal footing.

I honestly have not read a novel of this calibre in a long time and it makes me want to stop, take a break from reading and just skim through its pages remembering my favourite parts, the revelation and resolutions. Prisoner of Night and fog is sure to be a book that will stay with me and I shall recommend it to all lovers of a great story.

-MARI

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