Cover Wars: Riot of Storm and Smoke vs A Study in Charlotte

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's been a while since we did a CW but I passed by a gorgeous cover and had to put it up!

April Genevive Toucholke's books have always had very intriguing covers but this is my absolute favourite. I love the black. The font is gorgeous and stands out but also gives the cover the basis for all the little trinkets that are placed around it. Ah, I want to own it.

Vote for you favourite!

Which cover should win Cover Wars?


What do you think?

Personal Fandoms & Life

I'm going to try to write this post without beating myself up too much.

Anyway, you all know of my undying love of Supernatural. I've watched this show for literally a third of my life (OH SNAP) and that's because of the great storytelling, the wonderful self-awareness, and my ... thing  with Dean Winchester.

It's weird to say I relate with Dean because I'm a lot more like Sam. I don't drink or party or act as impulsively as Dean. I love school, reasoning with people, and I'm generally as self-aware as Sam is. But for whatever reason, I feel like I get Dean.

Dean is loyal and cares about his family. He is all bravado and jokes. He doesn't commit to much, or share all his feelings all the time. He's a bit of an asshole, and I fully admit that he is misogynistic, and yet I love him anyway. Does that make me a bad feminist? Well, it's hard because there's not much I can love if it has to be perfectly feminist. So I love him despite his flaws.

But this post isn't about my love of Dean. It's about fandom, and passionately one can love fictional worlds. How characters can feel like best friends, comforting me when I'm lonely, or available any time I want to celebrate.

It's such a personal relationship I have with the things I love that I try to downplay it. I really do. When I say I love Dean Winchester, people don't get that I genuinely do feel a really strong protectiveness for this character that means so much to me. I'm not loving it because of my friends, or because of anything that can variably change. I love it because I can't touch it. I can't ruin it. It can't be ruined for me.

This is something truly significant to me. At one point in my life, I felt like everything was changing and I didn't want it. I felt like I was trying so hard to hold onto something that was slipping away. Everyone else was moving on, and I was left behind with nothing but memories of better days. I remember the phrase I would use "searching for constancy, seeking permanence." I think this is the point where my fandom would always grow.

People come and go. This isn't to say I don't love people. I think there's something so special about the people that stay, that are constants in life, but that's another conversation, and even those people can leave you or you can leave them. I've experienced both. I think people are unreliable. Fandom is different.

When you love something in fandom, it stays with you. It's that one moment in time that never changes. It's these characters and their story, that you can watch when you're 13, or when you're 18, and it's still yours to love. These characters aren't real. They don't move on or change. Eventually, if you hate the direction a fandom or story is going in, you can just quit. It's not something that forces you to hold on, there are no messy goodbyes, there are no demands made of you. You love it because you love it and if you don't love it, you don't. There's no sympathy or sorrow, shame or regret. It's just what it is.

And because of this lack of commitment, because of how easy it is, it feels like I can love fully when it comes to my fandoms. This content is mine. The creator creates it, and I experience it in whatever way my mind conceives, and it's such a personal thing.

It's midnight and I'm writing this as I was pondering how one scene with Dean Winchester utterly devastated and broken could have me so emotional too. And not the kind of emotional where I'm sad when I'm watching, and then I let it go. How can I just absorb a mood from TV like that? How can I let myself fully feel this when real-terrible things have happened and I didn't flinch?

Fandom is safety. It's private, and personal. It doesn't demand anything from me, and I can just fully enjoy it without reservation. I thought this applied to real life fandoms too (think sports) but I've grown up past the point where sports stars are heroes.

I'm lucky to have fandom. But sometimes, I can't help but wish for more. Everything comes at a price, and this is fandom's. As much as I love it, as satisfying as it can be, sometimes it leaves me hollow because I wish so much that there could be more to a story. It's a strange yearning, it's muddling that so much love can be put into something that won't reciprocate, and that can so easily be forgotten and left behind.

I always try to write my posts with some sort of conclusion, but I can't think of anything appropriate for this post. I guess it's that fandom is something really important in my life, and yet I never think of it that way except when I'm immersed in it. I don't remember my life based on which story enchanted my mind for what period of time. I look at actions, and people, academics and careers. And yet whenever I need it, there it is.

And to be honest, that comforts me. I'm happy to be able to live in a world where I can find these things that drive me to write a random blog post in the middle of a Saturday night. It's like a reminder that the world has so much to offer, and I'm excited about the fandoms that matter to me today, and I'm also excited about the new things I'll love tomorrow.


What do you think?

Thursday Thoughts: Gimme more DUFFS, Girls Run the World

Gimme More DUFFS

by Mari

Whilst reading The Wrath and the Dawn I realized how much I despise beautiful protagonists. Beauty is the biggest cheat in YA romantic fiction. Why does the Caliph of Khorasan, the man known to kill his bride's by dawn get wooed by Shahrzad?

Psst. Mari, Mari, Mari. Haven't you heard? SHE IS BEAUTIFUL, ELEGANT, QUEENLY!

Honestly? Where are all my DUFFs at? Whats wrong with being the "average" looking girl next door with an epic personality? Nothing. I want more romances where little or no focus is on looks and more on personality and wit. Please, take pity on me and send some recommendations my way. Will be eternally grateful.

(Psssst Mari, check out The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson! (From P.E.)) 
(Psssst. P.E. already read it. (From Mari))

Who Runs the World? GIRLS.

by P.E.

I read The Mime Order about a week ago, and I'm still obsessed with it. You see, my favourite new thing to read about is girls in charge. Ambitious types. Girls that lead. We've had enough reluctant heroes. I want protagonists that want to take charge and change the world. Especially girls that are like, "I got this." College has exposed me to many powerful women, and the dilemma of few women at the top. It's tough for women to get there, and stay there. That's why I'm so up for reading about women that are ready to not only fight for rebellion, but lead it. 

Paige does that. Elisa from the aforementioned Girl of Fire and Thorns is another example. Jodi Meadow's The Orphan Queen has that too. Queen of Someday, Queen of Tomorrow both feature this. I'm further hoping Celaena gets there too! (She's powerful, but somewhat reluctant... c'mon Celaena, GO FOR IT.)

100 Bloglovin Followers

Also, we'd both like to make a quick note of reaching 100 followers on Bloglovin! To be honest, we're stunned. We haven't been as active as we want to be, but we've always wanted to post quality posts. We hope you enjoy what we've written, and we'd like to thank you for following us on this blog, and through our lives. We started this blog in high school, and now we're in college. Thank you for joining us on our journey, and you are awesome and deserve lots of wonderful things. 


What do you think?

Review: The Winner's Curse

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love...

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

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

My Review 

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

We were not meant to be. I adore this cover fiercely, but the contents of the story just never sat well with me. 

First, I don't particularly like any of the characters. Kestrel plays piano, cares for music, and buys Arin on a whim. She's spirited, argues with her father about joining the military, and is very crafty. And yet I never liked the way the world bent down to Kestrel. Okay, she's strategic, but she is also someone with very little training. Later on, she also does something I can't reconcile whatsoever. 

Arin also didn't interest me. Not for a single second was I surprised about his storyline, and it's not something I wanted to see. It's the easy way out. It avoids the messes of the relationship that this story needed to deal with better. 

Mostly, the massive power imbalances. Arin is Kestrel's slave. His very existence depends on her. No matter how much you like someone, you're not free to really be honest with someone and have a real relationship if that person has that kind of power over you. A romance between Arin and Kestrel is something that, if it did happen, needed to delve into those psychological issues more than it did. This is more than forbidden romance, two lovers from the wrong sides of the track. I didn't like their relationship in any part of this story. 

There's also the way the story stretches my believability. The main characters are so special and talented. So special. Anyway, there is fighting, questions of duty, and the really fascinating colonial aspects as the Valorians have pretty much stolen everything the Herrani have and even live in the former's homes. Yuck. 

Still, I don't think this story is for me. The romance isn't working, and it's so central to the story that I can't just suck it up and ignore it. 



What do you think?

Review: To All the Boys I've Loved Before

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all. 

My Review

Author: Jenny Han
Pages: 288
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: April 15 2014
Source: Library

This is a very good book. You should trust me on this because I rarely read contemporary, muchtheless romance, high school, sweet contemporary. I gave this one a try because of the hype, and that I liked the surprising depth to Jenny Han's writing I saw in The Summer I Turned Pretty. This one was even better.

Let's get over one thing; I want a Margot-goes-to-college story. I want Margot's perspective on leaving her family, on her life, on her challenges, etc. I started the story really identifying with Margot because I just finished my first year of college and I understood how Margot felt. The whole college thing was really well explained and very accurate, in my opinion. The awkward moments when you leave, when you're on the phone, when you return, all of those things are true.

Jenny Han wrote a story that was very true to me. I also have a younger nine year old sister (although no Lara Jean middle child) that I feel very responsible for. I also live with a single parent, and although I'm not Korean, I could relate to Lara Jean's perspective on culture. This story was great, because these are not really typical in the contemporaries I read, and all together they helped create a fresh reading experience.

The writing was really nice, and the relationships shined. Lara Jean is very fancy, and sweet. She is deeply loyal to those she cares most (and loyalty is one of my favourite character traits). She doesn't always get things right but she tried. And she's scared of driving, like me. I'm pretty sure this book is going to eventually motivate me into driving a car again. She's someone I would be friends with, and someone I can clearly imagine. She has a unique perspective on life, and I love it.

Throughout this book, Lara Jean learns a lot and experiences a lot. I won't spoil the fun of it, but once her letters are gone, Lara Jean has some stuff she needs to figure out. The best part is that Lara Jean's relationships with everyone shape her so clearly. Her sisterly bond with Margot and Kitty was powerful; her bond with her dad was sweet; her loyalty to Chris, her best friend. And of course the connections she formed to every one of the boys she loved.

Basically, I'm ready for the sequel! And I'm so up for a Margot book. Jenny Han, please make that happen?!



What do you think?

Mini Review: Taken By Erin Bowman

There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone.

They call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?

My Review

Author: Erin Bowman
Pages: 360
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: April 16 2013
Source: Library

For a really scary second, I remembered absolutely nothing about the story when looking at the cover. And then I realized why: the title of this book, Taken, is incredibly generic and it doesn't do the story justice.

The title I've been associating with this story is The Heist. Because the heist is basically what this story is about. It starts as your typical dystopia, only really fascinating because you're seeing a society in which boys' lifetimes are limited and so society is run by women.

There were fascinating aspects to making life work, and the really weird occurrence that was the heist itself-- a boy, when he turns 18 literally disappears in front of all the people in the village.

The story surprises me because it goes beyond the typical and establishes itself really well with lots of action and smart character development. Gray is impulsive and sometimes a jerk. He loves his brother and his family, and he just keeps running into trouble. He learns and grows a lot through The Heist, and I'm curious to see where his story goes.

Something that really stood out for me is spoilery, so I'll keep the spoilers out and say that I loved the way romance was woven into the story. It is very out of the norm and believable. Of course, there are some moments in which I think Gray is a massive jerk, but in general, I love what Erin Bowman did. It was unexpected and great.

Another random comment is that the villain in the story was not that scary to me. They were sleazy, but a la House of Cards, and those kind of characters don't work for me. Still, they antagonized Gray enough and the story was pretty interesting.

I'll probably read the sequel because this was pretty good! In some ways, it reminded me of The Maze Runner.



What do you think?

Mini-Review: The Falconer


Here's an update from the scintillating world of P.E.

I started the summer with pretty much one goal: get a job. My first job.

It was a long time before I secured employment. And apparently, I not only secured a job, the part-time job I thought I signed up for ending up being full-time. So now I labour long hours behind a computer, pondering SEO and CTAs, Adwords and Analytics, content marketing and graphic design.

Some days it is terrible, and other days I love it. But that's life!

And somehow, in the middle of the beginning my job, my mother scheduled us for a vacation to the big T-O. (Toronto, for those unaware of the "Centre of the Universe".)

To Toronto I went, other responsibilities be damned. I had a darn good time, too.

Throughout my trip, I read voraciously. I suppose I could write long reviews for every book I read. It's been too long for me to do that, and my memory is absurdly horrid. Instead, I'll mini-review these books.

The Falconer is the first of the books I'll review.

One girl's nightmare is this girl's faery tale

She's a stunner.

Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title—and drop-dead beauty.

She's a liar.
But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. she's leading a double life: She has a rare ability to sense the sìthíchean—the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans—and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them.

She's a murderer.

Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons—from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols—ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother.

She's a Falconer.

The last in a line of female warriors born with a gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more complicated. She still longs to avenge her mother's murder—but she'll have to save the world first.

The first volume of a trilogy from an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy, this electrifying thriller combines romance and action, steampunk technology and Scottish lore in a deliciously addictive read.

My Review

 Author: Elizabeth May
Pages: 378
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: September 19 2013
Source: Library

I'd say this one was moderately entertaining. Frankly, it's been a while and my recollection of the story is slim. I do remember that there's a case of perfect girl syndrome, in which the main character has it all.

Nothing wrong with having it all, but the story of "she looks like she has it all, but she really doesn't" is not exactly ripe.

There are fairies, however! And Scotland! Although the environment didn't use that setting to its fullest potential. The fairies were fascinating. Especially Kieran. And fascinating is as far as it goes, because I really lacked a grasp on his character. He was very mysterious. Also, there is a tiny fairy that loves to get drunk on honey. I adore this little fairy.

Aileana is hell-bent on revenge. I did feel bad for her because she felt so alone after her mother's death, and her father was a bit of a jerk (as far as I remember).

Strangely enough, this story reminded me of The Winner's Curse in the set up.

The ending wasn't really memorable, in the sense that I literally can't remember any part of it beyond some battle that I think Aileana won? And I suppose the next book deals with the consequences.

I would recommend this to people looking for some easy excitement. It didn't do enough to impress me, but it was a solid read.



What do you think?

Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue

There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel. 

My Review

Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Pages: 391
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: October 21 2014
Series: The Raven Cycle #3
Source: Library

I feel like the more of Maggie Stiefvater I read, the more I start to understand her writing. I've often called Stiefvater's writing atmospheric, haunting, blah blah blah but this time, a different work came to mind: quirky.

Stiefvater's writing, characters, and world is quirky. The prose is charming and funny; warm, and inviting. There is a sense that Stiefvater is in complete control. There are metaphors, and patterns, and it is done with an astonishing control.

Now, what can I say about the characters that I haven't said before?

Except that the characters still change in little ways, and their relationships change with them. Adam is probably my favourite change. It's remarkable to see his growth as he becomes more comfortable with the person he is to everyone else. Adam is rebuilding himself on new foundations, and he's growing up from a scared boy to a man. He has come so far, and I loved his tentative assuredness, and his acceptance of who he was.

Gansey is showing signs of weakness, but that doesn't make him any less awesome than ever. Still, I'm getting a little worried for him. Don't you break my heart, Stiefvater.

I'm a little surprised with my deep love for Ronan. In fact, I wanted more of him in this book! #MoreRonan2015 It's not that he wasn't there. It's just that in The Dream Thieves, he rocked the story and he wasn't as focal in Blue Lily, Lily Blue. This time, the story was more balanced.

And I suppose the biggest part of Blue Lily, Lily Blue is Blue. Blue is always a little out of my centre of attention because I find the boys more interesting than her, and that's not a comment on her character. I loved Stiefvater's character development for Blue. Blue is considering college, she misses her mom, she acts out, and is arrogant but in the best teenage way. I really like Blue's fiestiness.

Now, if we have to talk comparisons, I will say that The Dream Thieves is still my favourite of the series (and of Stiefvater). Something about the rawness of Ronan's story appealed to me. The style of Blue Lily, Lily Blue feels a little different, and you can tell that something is happening.

And here is the part in my review where I check Goodreads and realize there is only one more book. Ohmygosh there is ONE more book left. JUST ONE.


Can we talk about this? Because I've barely finished any series in the past few years and I've kept up with this one.


I'm so lost. What do I do in life if I don't have another book of Gansey and Ronan and Blue and Adam to look forward to? What else is there?

Before I read The Raven King *sobs* and write my series review (oh please, we all know that the last book reviewed in a series is always a series review), I'm just going to take a moment and try to remember the characters as they are right now, on the precipice of tragedy. I will remember their friendship, and their unique relationships, and the personal challenges they have all overcome.



What do you think?

Review: The Wrath and the Dawn

One Life to One Dawn.
In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all.
Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

My Review

Author: Renee Ahdieh
Pages: 388
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Source: Library

If only this book could have continued the way it started.

I have to give Renee Ahdieh credit for trying to bring together a very complex culture, one not well explored in YA. If my ancestors didn't hail from the ancient Persian country of Khorasan, I doubt I would have known about it so it's great to see it be explored for once. I do have to say that the amount of exploration was quite limited. I don't have any image beyond a grand palace in my head but to be fair most of the book was set in this palace. Still, it leaves more to be desired.

Come to think of it, many aspects of this story leaves more to be desired. For the first time in a long time, a debut novel blared its imperfections and roughness to me. It caught me off guard, especially with the rave reviews everyone's thrown around about this book.

First there was the jumping narratives. I'm a sceptic with narratives that jump between more than 2 people so it's understandable when I wasn't enjoying them. But by the end, I didn't even understand the reason for them. Jahandar and Tariq were these two stubborn, dull and flat characters that embody the YA character version of men who think they know what is best for a woman. Neither had much backstory to even deserve a portion of the narrative and their great quest ended in an anticlimactic 10 page abrupt end. Ugh, that ending.

Unfortunately, Jahandar and Tariq weren't the only pointless and bland side characters. All of the side characters were 8 by 11inch paper flat. Shiva who's death sparks the whole entire plot was a distant ghost of a friend who stood by our protagonist when her mother died. Great. Lets all repay our friends with our lives since we have many of them. To make me even more agitated, Shahrzad's plan of attack was to find a plan of attack... so exciting.

Then comes the bane of my existence characters: Jalal and Shahrzad's handmaiden who's name slips my mind and who's importance ranks below a google search. These two were the most obviously positioned and "tell not show" developed characters I've read in a while. They had convenient positions in both Shahrzad and Khalid's lives to drop unmasked revelations that were used as plot progression tools.

After that little rant it may surprise you if I said that I was actually enjoying this at a 4star level up to around 70% of the way through. Most of this is attributed to Shahrzad and Khalid, who I actually liked. I loved the story telling addition which was done really well and one of my complaints is that it wasn't continued. For a story of 1001 nights, the story telling ended way too early.

Also, something that really stood out for me was the incorporation of marriage and its consummation which I thought Ahdieh did a really good job handling.

Overall, I'm quite broken up about this book. I have so much to complain about because I felt like my enjoyment level was inclining and then suddenly it plummeted. Also, what the heck was that ending? Action action, the end. Meh.



What do you think?


I was recently doing my work and blah blah blah found an advertisement for Chapters (which is the largest bookstore chain in Canada) and it featured this amazing cover:

It only showed the top of the cover, and yet I felt a flutter in my heart. "This can't be," I murmured to myself and clicked on the advertisement. I didn't see the cover I was looking for. Not to worry: I am a child of the Google generation. I googled it and there it was. 

A sequel. 

To one of my favourite books ever. 

*confetti explodes*

I loved Hyperbole and a Half. I still do. I never reread, and yet this is the one book I've brought with me to college, to back home, and back to college again. This is the one book I always reread. I have lent this book to so many people, and I have laughed and cries countless times while reading it. 

I have also, periodically, scoured the internet for some sign that Allie Brosh is still doing her thing. I have read interviews, and Reddit AMAs, and Twitter feeds. Somehow, I missed this. Oh well. Now I know. 

It comes out in June 2016, and you might say it's an awfully long time away. But it's not. I never thought she would write anything again, and she did, and I can't wait to read it. 

I don't have any expectations for her or her book. I want her to be true to herself and keep writing honestly, and authentically. Until then, this feels like the biggest happy surprise to know that at some point in the future, something really awesome is going to happen. 

And to think, all this started as I was browsing a bookstore and saw a yellow book on sale that I bought on impulse...



What do you think?

Review: The Crown of Embers

Elisa is a hero.

She led her people to victory over a terrifying, sorcerous army. Her place as the country's ruler should be secure. But it isn't.

Her enemies come at her like ghosts in a dream, from foreign realms and even from within her own court. And her destiny as the chosen one has not yet been fulfilled.

To conquer the power she bears, once and for all, Elisa must follow a trial of long-forgotten—and forbidden—clues, from the deep, hidden catacombs of her own city to the treacherous seas. With her go a one-eyed spy, a traitor, and the man whom—despite everything—she is falling in love with.

If she's lucky, she will return from this journey. But there will be a cost.

My Review

Author; Rae Carson
Pages: 410
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: September 18 2012
Source: Library

This is becoming a recurring theme. Once again, I enjoyed the sequel of a book to a debut that didn't interest me. The Crown of Embers was a massive turnaround from The Girl of Fire and Thorns. The story was something I love to read about: women in charge.

Elisa is the queen, and she is responsible for keeping her kingdom safe from Inviernos. This requires remarkable sacrifice, and Elisa is trying to be the best ruler she can be. I liked that the struggles of ruling were so well explored. It reminded me of Daenarys' storyline in Game of Thrones. Elisa wants to be a great ruler. She's trying to figure out how. It involves lots of sacrifice and posturing. Every move she makes has to be very strategic. She has to lie a lot, and try to outwit her enemies. The moral ambiguity of being queen, even with as strong a claim and character as Elisa's, is very real. Elisa has to decide punishments, and truly use her power well. This storyline was enough to entertain me for the entire novel, and I loved it. I've never hidden my interest in the concept of having power, ruling, and absolute power corrupts absolutely or whatever. So many YA books are about rebellions, and I've always thought that tearing the system down is only half the struggle. Something has to replace it, and this requires building a better world. Elisa is actively trying to accomplish this. 

But, this fantastic storyline was rivalled by another; my intense, undying love for Hector. Considering I remember so little of the first book, I fell hard for Hector in this one. Hector is brilliant. Smart, understanding, noble, loyal. But my favourite thing about him is his relationship with Elisa. Elisa is the Queen. She is his sovereign. He is her most important guard. He is in charge of keeping Elisa safe because Elisa is his sovereign, but also because he likes her. They have something blooming, and this relationship was an incredible highlight of The Crown of Embers. Frankly, it was romance done right. The romance was mature and very considerate. Elisa and Hector's relationship is beyond infatuation. It's about two people that want a real relationship with each other, and have to acknowledge the real obstacles in their way. I loved this. It's rare that a romance can capture my attention, but this one was wonderful because the chemistry was authentic. 

There's also a larger plot in The Crown of Embers that centres around some sort of quest for power, and this is probably the weakest point of this book because it's a rather forgettable storyline. It doesn't stand out to me. It doesn't need to, because it has these awesome substorylines that make reading every chapter a delight. However, the plot looks like it will pick up because things get very twisty by the end of The Crown of Embers. Let's just say this one leaves you breathless for more. 

One last comment on The Crown of Embers is to praise the writing. The writing never got in the way of the story, which I figure is the baseline for decent writing, but then Rae Carson took another step forward because there were some fantastic passages. I realized this acutely once I read a particular line that touched me because it was based so strongly on real emotion. When I talk about how much I enjoy reading every chapter, or I talk about how great I thought Elisa was, (and even all the other characters that are not Hector and Elisa, like Mara!), this is all possible due to writing that enables the reader to form a connection to the story. It's subtly important. 

Overall, I am glad I gave this series another shot because I am now a big fan. And I can't wait to read The Bitter Kingdom! 



What do you think?

#FridayReads: Wrath and the Dawn

It's definitely been a while since I've done one of these and I'm cheating because I'm actually writing this on a Thursday --- # ThursdayReads. Either way, its been a hecka long time since I read a book. Going into summers I'm always so pumped for all the time I will have and all the books I'll read but this summer has hit me in the face with stress, work, and reading slumps. Enough moping.

I'm currently 22% of the way through The Wrath and the Dawn , one of my most anticipated books of the year. Seeing as my ancestors probably lived in Khorasan this book is even more special. I love how YA is branching out to other cultures and settings.

As for the book itself, I had a rough start because of the jumping narratives. The story jumped from Khalid to Shahrzad to Irsa to Tariq all in the span of just a few pages which slowed down the reading process for me. However, now that I'm passed that stage I'm enjoying the book. I like Ahdieh's writing style and am interested in finding out the mystery behind the murdered wives. Also, I'm not usually a fan of reading anecdotal books, but the way Shahrzad spins her tales is captivating and Ahdieh's incorporation of Khalid/Shazi's interruptions really increases the enjoyment level for me. I have high hopes!


What do you think?

Review: The Perilous Sea

After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.

Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother's prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future. 

My Review

Author: Sherry Thomas
Pages: 414
Publication Date: September 16 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Library
Sequel to: The Burning Sky

I always say, "Oh, maybe the sequel will be better!"

I am known for my steadfast belief in a book's potential. Except, I am equally known for starting a series without finishing it.

I picked up The Perilous Sea with little genuine enthusiasm. That sounds harsh, but I figured I should probably try finishing a few series, and that day, the selection at the library was lacking. Sometimes, people convince me to stick with a series through the amazing reviews of the sequel. I saw that The Perilous Sea had high ratings, so I gave it a shot.

This was a good idea.

For whatever reason, everything just clicked. I became extremely fond of the characters, the writing, and the plot was entertaining.

I really liked Titus. He was sarcastic and guarded, and constantly acting for the sake of duty. His character was gruff, yet honest. I am like, so down for a boy that believes in loyalty and responsibility, and so I really liked Titus.

Iolanthe was an amazing lead too. She was clever, charming, and held her own. I love that she was strong in a way that was open and kind. I really liked her and thought she was wonderful.

The plot was cool because it had flashbacks. The story started with a girl and a boy in a desert, running away from Atlantis' people. They have no recollection of anything. Then, there were flashbacks that showed how they got to that point. I liked the little twists Thomas added, and the way she explored what it means and feels like to have a destiny. This was a very thoughtful way of telling a story, and this inner conflict was intriguing.

The ending wrapped up the story quite well, and it was exciting. I like that it was an ending that was somewhat self-contained-- we learned how the characters got to a certain point, and this book was rife with character development for both of them. It was exactly what I needed to push me to continue this series, and I'm excited for more!



What do you think?

The YA Fairy Tale Retellings You've Been Dreaming About

It's Not Just Disney Movies

I grew up on Disney movies. These are not the same as fairy tales, but my parents didn't know them since they grew up in a different country. My first exposure to fairy tales was via Disney. This wasn't it. I always maintained an interest in these stories, from reading Sisters Grimm to now.

My favourite fairy tale retelling centres around phenomenal writing. I already know the basic story, so how is the author capable of retaining my interest? The books here are not strict retellings. They use elements of the story and explore different parts of the world.

Peter Pan Retelling: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Tiger Lily retells Peter Pan through a very different perspective; that of Tinker Bell. This is not Disney's Tink. Tiger Lily is fiercely protective and has her own life with her tribe. I thought this feeling of her people being indigenous to Never Land was quite fascinating, and this is an extremely fresh perspective on Peter Pan. 

Fairytale Retellings series by Jackson Pearce

Jackson Pearce is one of my absolute favourite fairy tale retelling writers. I can't compare her books to a single fairy tale because she has created a series with an intense mythology drawing from several classic stories like Little Red Riding Hood, The Little Mermaid, and The Snow Queen. My favourite part of Jackson Pearce's story is her amazing character development. Although her books are part of a series, they don't need to be read one after another. Every story is self-contained and deals with different themes. It starts with Sisters Red, a story about two sisters alone in the world, fighting evil. Then, more siblings with a Hansel and Gretel retelling, Sweetly. My personal favourite is Fathomless, because the story gets incredibly dark. The yearning of The Little Mermaid resonates through that entire story. Finally, there is Cold Spell, possibly the most romance oriented of the bunch. 

As an aside, I posted the older covers of Sisters Red and Sweetly because I love them so much more than the redesign. 

Stacey Jay

She has written two fairy tale retellings and they are both amazing: Of Beast and Beauty, which I'm sure you can guess what fairy tale it concerns, and Princess of Thorns. 

Princess of Thorns has a very fantasy-ish vibe, as it is a retelling of Sleepy Beauty, except that it has fairy powers, an extremely stubborn and cursed princess, and believe it or not, a cursed prince too. The slow burn relationship between the two as well as the daring of Aurora is an extremely inventive take on one of my personal favourites. 

Of Beast and Beauty is romantic. It's a story that speaks to the duality of beast and beauty, and this sci-fi version of my favourite Disney movie is so very charming. It's about learning to see past the differences, and it's definitely worth a read. 

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

I know that Hodge has written a second story, Crimson Bound, but seeing as how that's still stuck on my TBR, I can only gush about Cruel Beauty. It's another Beauty and the Beast retelling, and it is amazing. Nyx has some serious attitude, and she is one of my favourite YA characters. She would steal the show, except that almost every aspect of Cruel Beauty is flawless, and there is so much gorgeous writing, storytelling, character development that it's hard to pick what I like best. 

Winterspell by Claire Legrand

Okay, so this is somewhat of a loose interpretation of fairy tale, but there was a Barbie movie about the Nutcracker that I watched passionately as a child, so I feel like Claire Legrand's book works. 

Winterspell's true charm is in the character development of Clara, its main character. Clara begins the story lacking agency. Her desires don't matter and she has to think of her family first. Throughout the novel, Clara learns more about accepting who she is, and really owning herself and her body. She also deals with lots of evil and darkness along the way. What more could you want? 

Books I Haven't Read But Will Still Recommend

I don't entirely feel fair recommending books I haven't read, but I'm looking at the reviews and I know that Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles should somehow find a way onto this list. Also, Crimson Bound, Because Rosamund Hodge. Duh. 

Did I miss anything? Which are your favourite fairy tales, and favourite fairy tale retellings?



What do you think?

Review: Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke

The girl known as Gretchen Whitestone has a secret: She used to be part of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle. More than a year after she made an enemy of her old family friend and fled Munich, she lives with a kindly English family, posing as an ordinary German immigrant, and is preparing to graduate from high school. Her love, Daniel Cohen, is a reporter in town. For the first time in her life, Gretchen is content.
But then, Daniel gets a telegram that sends him back to Germany, and Gretchen’s world turns upside-down. And when she receives word that Daniel is wanted for murder, she has to face the danger she thought she’d escaped-and return to her homeland.
Gretchen must do everything she can to avoid capture and recognition, even though saving Daniel will mean consorting with her former friends, the Nazi elite. And as they work to clear Daniel’s name, Gretchen and Daniel discover a deadly conspiracy stretching from the slums of Berlin to the Reichstag itself. Can they dig up the explosive truth and get out in time-or will Hitler discover them first?

My Review

Author: Anne Blankman
Pages: 406
Publisher: Blazer + Bray
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Source: Library

I've come to realize that besides having enchantingly woven an intricate mystery within the boundaries of real historical events Anne Blankman also has the best Author's Notes. Seriously, I almost couldn't help myself from skipping to the end and reading them, as they are always so riveting.

Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke takes place a little while after the events of its predecessor. Daniel and Gretchen have now settled in England but things aren't as cheery as Gretchen would like to believe.

Gretchen and Daniel are one of my favourite literary couples. They are so realistic in the ways that they go about their relationship. They love each other but they are also best friends. For sure there is a lot of forever talk but who doesn't fancy themselves a forever relationship? Even still, they went through a lot of turbulence during this book trying to figure out how to coordinate their love with their differing interests and the obstacles imposed by the political state of things.

Blankman's pre-WWII Germany was as enthralling and as alive as ever. I'm not a visual reader but my history sensitive mind was jumping for joy with all the details. I could imagine the burned Reichstag, red faced Hitler and the party men busting down doors arresting people. The number of characters was also much higher in this book as Gretchen and Daniel struggled to find new allies. I did find some minor issue in remembering all the names starting with G: Goring, Gennet, Gerlich...

Everything about this book was well done which is something I've come to expect from Anne Blankman in this quick time. However, when compared to its predecessor, I felt like this story lacked magnitude. Gretchen was quite realistically walking on glass in the first book. Questioning her upbringing, her friends, her family and their sanity. Gretchen was still finding herself and coming to terms with her new situations and new truths, however I just wish the central conflict was larger- more world changing.

A commendable sequel in a wonderful historical duology. If you are a fan of history, psychology, mystery, or interested in world war two like me than pick this series up.



What do you think?

Mini DNF Review: Storm Siren

“I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.”

In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth — meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?

Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win. 

My Review

Author: Mary Weber
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: August 19 2014
Pages: 320
Source: Library

Eh, it's not for me. I don't know what else I'm supposed to write in this review because the fact of the matter is that Storm Siren is simply a book that had an interesting premise, but the execution was not for me.

I didn't connect with the characters and the plot didn't stand out. Like, at all.

Nothing about the world intrigued me.

Sometimes, stories don't click. It happens.

So, um, as this is a quite terrible review thus far, I shall now entertain you with a drawing of a siren!

Ok, ok, so this is quite terrible as a drawing. I'm sorry. 

Have you ever felt similarly about a book? Care to share?



What do you think?

Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Today is Leonard Peacock’s birthday. It is also the day he hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather’s P-38 pistol.

But first he must say good-bye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate, Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school’s class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.

In this riveting look at a day in the life of a disturbed teenage boy, acclaimed author Matthew Quick unflinchingly examines the impossible choices that must be made—and the light in us all that never goes out.

My Review

Author: Matthew Quick
Pages: 273
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 13, 2013
Source: Library

I'm a little scared to write this review because it can go in a lot of different ways, and it's hard to balance what I think needs to be said with what I want to be said and what kind of impression I want to leave of this book. 

Let's make the last part exceptionally clear: This is a phenomenal book and you should read it. 

The strength in Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is that it's a book that touches on some basic, shared human experiences. I connected so strongly with Leonard in some ways, and that's where the impact of the story came in. It reached my humanity; awakened my compassion. Leonard Peacock is having a bad day, or moreso, he's had a rough few years and he doesn't see the light. He doesn't believe it's going to get better. 

He wants to believe, but he can't. He's caught up in a sea of negativity and it's sucking the life out of him. The world is darker and he can't find any light, and so he's spiralling out of control. I think this is where I became most emotional: Leonard is looking for something better. He's desperately trying to find it, and he can't. All the adults he knows are miserable, and he lacks any friends in his peers. He feels like no one understands him and when he looks at other people, all he sees is misery. 

I've wondered that before. Hell, I think I'll wonder that again. I hate when adults around me are constantly tired from work, constantly exhausted doing mundane things. When all they want to do is forget and self-medicate. I hate when people aren't being real, they're caught up in status and whatever. Sometimes, I'm caught up in that too and I'm scared because my goal is only to be happy, and it should be something very simple but sometimes it's not and sometimes it is. I think this disenchantment was the pulse of the story. Except Leonard has a hard time getting out of it. I think it's fair to say that world is not as terrible as Leonard believes it is, but he's trying to believe and no one is pulling him out of that. 

I remember thinking, at some point throughout the story, about what Leonard would think of me, if we ever met. I hope I could be kinder to him. I wouldn't say he's weird, because I don't do that to people, although I know that I'm not exactly approachable. I'd like to think that I try to enjoy small things. I bop to the music, I smile at random things I see, and I try to have fun. I was trying to figure out what Leonard would think of me-- and what I would think of him. Would I help him out? Would I realize what kind of person he is? And I guess I felt a little self-conscious because I like Leonard. I think he's an interesting person that sees the world differently, and sometimes I connect with that. But then I realized that Leonard sees the humanity of the situation, and that's too much for him sometimes. Leonard is understanding, but is tired of being abused. I don't need to care about what Leonard would think of me. We're both human. 

Basically, I think Leonard would understand. And this is fundamentally why Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is so great. I just wrote about Leonard like he's a real person because the story is so real. It's full of little and big moments and it doesn't really end conclusively except that there's this odd hope that the next day can be a little better, and maybe there is something greater to reach for. Maybe it is possible to find happiness. 



What do you think?

Review: The Jewel

The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

My Review

Author: Amy Ewing
Pages: 358
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: September 2 2014
Source: Library

The Jewel was a neat read. I mean neat in the way that Arthur on the best TV show for children, Arthur, would say it. It's neat. It's cool. It's pretty good. It didn't blow me away with it's awesomeness, but The Jewel was fascinating and I liked that. 

The Jewel explored slavery very interestingly. Violet's life is terrible. She has been ripped away from her family and as a surrogate, she is expected to bear the children of the royals of her society. First, she is trained with other surrogates and the training can be quite brutal. Then, she goes to an auction where they auction her off. They attempt to obliterate Violet, and try to take away her name and her identity. They just want her body and her talents. 

Violet is angry and scared. They've stolen her life, and I liked that she never forgot what she had lost. The writing was clever enough to give me a taste of what Violet could have had, and I felt terrible for her. It doesn't get better in the Jewel. In fact, it gets pretty bad. I was really happy with Violet's character and her reactions to everything just felt like they made sense to me. It's important to consider the trauma that Violet experiences because when she does make rash decisions that I would usually not like, they make sense in the context of her character. 

She has no choices, so when she has the opportunity to do something for herself, she will take that choice. And I can't blame her. There's a lot of trauma in knowing that you have no future, that you are disposable, that you are utterly invisible. 

I also liked that Ewing tackled Violet's master in a way that humanized her. It would be overly simplistic to just say that she's terrible and completely evil. She can be, and definitely is, those things, but she is also more. Ewing's depiction of a slave owner was fascinating because she does ask the tough questions about the lack of morality of the situation, and her character responds. She doesn't respond with conviction, and it's a bit of a cruel response because it defers to "this is the way the world is", but that's what I believe makes this story so interesting; that makes sense. The characters act in really reasonable ways based on their character building and it's actually quite tidy. 

The Jewel is not exactly a character story... I think I would call it a situation or theme story, because the most fascinating parts of it is the terrible life Violet is forced to live and the situation's impact on her character. The plot to The Jewel is not particularly engaging, (at least to me) and I frankly just enjoyed reading and learning about the world through Violet's eyes. In any case, I did like The Jewel and I'm curious to read the sequel. Apparently, this is a duology so I'm curious to see where Violet's story goes. 




What do you think?

Mari's Love for Coffee |Book Tag|

Yes, Dean it seems so. Here is something for that bed head. The Coffee Book Tag! I saw the tag on Nara from Looking for Panacea's blog and thought yes, we love coffee on The Sirenic Codex.

Black: Name a series that's tough to get into but has hardcore fans

Um, this isn't starting out very well is it. Can I just say all of John Green's books?

Peppermint Mocha: A book that gets more popular during festive season

I love christmas holidays but I can't think of any books that I've actually read surrounding it. I'm going to go with Harry Potter because the Great Hall feasts were the best.

Hot Chocolate: Your favourite children's book

The Snow Queen original fairy tale. I have the russian edition and wish I could read it.

Double Shot of Espresso: A book that kept you on the edge of your seat

Lot of choices but in the spirit of my current read Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke, the first book in the series Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman was really gripping.

Starbucks: A book you see everywhere

The Heir by Kiera Cass. I love these covers, but the synopsis is iffy for me. Everyone else seems to love it and bookstores don't miss a chance to put it on the front shelves.

That Hipster Coffee Shop: An indie author/book shoutout

I don't even know what an indie book would be. Can I just say Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala because I think it's an amazing and very important read and also my memory says there was some kind of indie music going on there. Or not, maybe Seattle connects with indie in my mind.

Oops! I Got Decaf: A book you expected more from

Recently, The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski. I don't remember anything besides not being impressed by this sequel.

The Perfect Blend: A series that was bittersweet but ultimately satisfying

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead! Ugh, my main teen years 13/14 was spent worshiping this series and it made me tear up. I was on top with Shadow Kiss and then Blood Promise killed me and unlike other readers I refuse to dislike the book though I know Blood Promise has some issues. Loved the ending though.

Green Tea: A book/series that is quietly beautiful

Who needs quite when you can have LOUD. OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon. Scotland is beautiful, Jamie is beautiful, OTP is freaking gorgeous and the story is my favourite so... (I know, I cheat. It had to be done, Outlander needs to be here.)

Earl Grey: Name your favourite classic

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I love how I can enjoy this in book, movie, tv show, and modern adaptation form.

Better :)



What do you think?

Review: A Million Miles Away

When high school senior Kelsey's identical twin sister, Michelle, dies in a car crash, Kelsey is left without her other half. The only person who doesn't know about the tragedy is Michelle's boyfriend, Peter, recently deployed to Afghanistan. But when Kelsey finally connects with Peter online, she can't bear to tell him the truth. Active duty has taken its toll, and Peter, thinking that Kelsey is Michelle, says that seeing her is the one thing keeping him alive. Caught up in the moment, Kelsey has no choice: She lets Peter believe that she is her sister.
As Kelsey keeps up the act, she crosses the line from pretend to real. Soon, Kelsey can't deny that she's falling, hard, for the one boy she shouldn't want.

My Review

Author: Lara Avery
Pages: 320
Publisher: Poppy
Publication Date: July 7, 2015
Source: Library

I honestly don’t even know why I’m so angry. Actually, I’m nauseated. I cannot deal with how this story progressed.

Right off the bat, we have a very touchy topic. Kelsey’s sister Michelle dies while her boyfriend, Peter, is deployed. Struggling with the loss of her twin, Kelsey responds to Peter’s Skype and decides that she has to act like her sister to get Peter through the deployment and things get complicated, of course. 

What happened to Michelle was sad, but I didn’t feel the brunt of it because I didn’t even know her and she died in the first few chapters. Instead, I was left with an immature Kelsey who threw all her friends, boyfriend and family away to then toy with someone’s feelings. 

I think, Kelsey is sick. Very sick and struggling severely with Michelle’s death. Her lack of regard for others’ time, money and emotions was beyond my comprehension. How blind, self-centered and grief-stricken do you have to be to ignore right and wrong? 

As for Peter, he was sweet, the perfect forever boyfriend type but he didn’t have any growth and wasn’t very interesting. In fact, all of the secondary and tertiary characters were flat. Non-existent parents except for in the background and to preach in the end, non-existent school  except to fill in the time-slot in a day, and the predictable role set out for Peter’s sister was unrealistic. 

Stories about basically catfishing someone are hard to swallow but I was ready to if there was more of a story arc with Peter and Kelsey as themselves coming to terms with Michelle's death, Kelsey's catfishing, and Peters military duties. Instead, lengthy duration of the cat fishing exceeded my tolerance level and I can’t forgive Kelsey. She had several chances and she blew them with weak excuses. In the end all of the falling action, growth and preaching was condensed into maybe 20 pages, resulting in lost realism and notching my enjoyment level down dramatically.



What do you think?

Review: The Diviners

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

My review

Author: Libba Bray
Publication Date: September 18 2012
Pages: 578
Source: Library

I can't tell you how I finished The Diviners. I really can't. The story was lukewarm for me, and it felt like it was dragging on and on and on. The overall premise was interesting to me, but there is building up tension slowly, and then there is the snail's pace that was The Diviners.

The pace was terrible. It was so slow, and full of completely unnecessary details. Some character development, or world explanations are necessary for fantasy/urban fantasy, and I'm generally very open to a little more detail. The Diviners, however, had too many completely irrelevant, meaningless plots. I was curious, and I felt persistent so I finished. But, I feel like a good 100 or so pages could have been cut and the story would not have suffered at all.

Because nothing happens.

Or, excuse me, very little happens.

This is the part that disappointed me the most. The Diviners is building up several storylines when there is only one that really matters to this book. It's annoying because I was expecting everything to get to a point where a singular story could begin to unravel, and that didn't happen. We don't need to know the perspectives of many of the characters in The Diviners because they are utterly irrelevant to the climax, or the resolution. In fact, it feels like some characters are introduced ,and we are told they will be important and have to make tough choices, and then nothing happens. Their individual plotlines lack the direction to make up a contemporary, so there ends up being endless prattle about characters that do. not. matter.

Evie is the only character that really necessitates a POV. Multiple POVs are used when explaining intricate storylines that have many moving parts. This was not an intricate storyline. At least, not yet. Indubitably, Libba Bray plans to get to that point. But, until she gets to that point where all the characters actually matter to the overall plot, the reader does not need to know so much about these characters.

I think that's what disappointed me most about The Diviners: the promise, and then the failed execution. I loved reading about the flappers and the historical aspect of the story. I loved the language that was used to convey the era, and the attitude of the era in New York City. Everything was glittering and bright. There was oppression, and repression. There was the fear of the Bolsheviks. There was hope in the future fuelled by the marvellous advances of industry. I've read a few books about the 20s and Bray's has my favourite depiction thus far.

I guess my hope for the rest of The Diviners, which I may or may not read, is that Libba Bray starts the action and cuts out the preamble. I want to see stuff happening, and I want there to be much better pace. The book needs more purpose, and some more creativity when it comes to the story. The evil ghost plot was not the most exciting, to be very honest. I know all about ghost stories. I've watched 10 seasons of Supernatural, in addition to devouring most paranormal reads.The murders were gruesome, but I never felt scared because it was such overkill. For me, I think the fear of the unknown is the scariest part of a ghost story, and so the murder scenes bits took away some excitement because I was waiting for Evie to catch up.

Due to most of the characters' utter irrelevance in the overall storyline of The Diviners, I couldn't really care much about them either. They have potential, I guess.

Tldr: the pacing killed this story, even though it has promise.



What do you think?

It's not Maggie Stiefvater's Fault

In case you've missed out, there is an unspoken disagreement about Maggie Stiefvater on The Sirenic Codex. P.E. is an adamant fan of her work while I cannot understand the reason behind the existence of The Scorpio Races.

This story came to relevance somewhere around 10pm when I was struck by an epiphany. It's quite world changing really- It's not Maggie Stiefvater's Fault!

See I was an alright fan of Shiver. I liked it. Then The Scorpio Races happened and Ms. Stiefvater and I kind of broke up. Why: slow pacing, disengaging plot, uninteresting characters. But what all of this really sums up to is descriptions. The Scorpio Races is Maggie's hall of fame on details and descriptions. Something that I've come to realize isn't my forte.

My mind doesn't really bother to register excessive descriptions and skips right over them. As a result, books like The Scorpio Races have no appeal to me. Sentence after sentence of descriptions about the weather, the horses, the characters faces whizz by me. I can't see them as anything but wasted space.

This is where movies come in. I don't believe in reading the book before watching the movie. Call me a rebel, but I don't believe in any real set way of reading. And I've been known (because the whole world pays attention to me, of course) to watch the movie before reading the book, quite unapologetically. 

Watching the movie helps me visualize.

I remember as early as my Harry Potter, I would google images many of the characters or creatures in the books in order to get the visuals. Somehow I managed to ignore the fact that Malfoy had white blonde hair, Hermione has too-big front teeth and that Voldemort didn't have a nose. The last I don't mind.

Watching the movie, however, plants the images in my mind and actually improves my reading experience. I can now imagine a certain face smirking when the text says so. 

Many of my favourite books of all time have been books I picked up after getting my interest peaked by a movie or tv adaptation. I love the visuals, but I am not a visual reader.



What do you think?

Thursday Thoughts: Physical Books Are Forever, Katie M. Stout

This is a TSC feature that looks 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. 

Physical Books are Forever

by P.E.

Let me get my crystal ball out...

Ah, here it is. Today, I will make what I consider to be a totally reasonable prediction, but one that might be considered bold in some circles. I predict that there will always be physical books. I know that ebooks are big and most people turn to them to read. But, there is real value in a physical book. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than on Bookstagram. The artful pictures of books and the massive followings have changed books from something uncool to something hip. Books are a part of an aesthetic; they are colourful, novel, and there is a whole culture of reading in the modern day. I think that the rising prominence of ebooks will only eradicate paperbacks (I hate them, so good riddance!) and leave us all with shiny hard covers that cost a lot more than they do now. And these books will be kept because keeping books is cool and unusual, so they will be kept for something other than a functional purpose. 

Who knows?

Katie M. Stout

by Mari

Lately, I came by a twitter issue that arose over a reader who confronted Katie Stout over the racial issues present in her book Hello, I Love You. I don't think the issue was too big but here is my take.

I've read quite a few reviews about Hello, I Love you as I was someone who wished to read the book. The majority of the reviews I've read, however, did find issues with the representation of Korean culture and the main characters racial ignorance. Personally, that doesn't sound like my cup of tea. A lot of freak out sessions have been taking place with social media users saying unfavourable things about certain authors. When it comes down to it, I wonder why every other form of art is allowed to receive criticism besides YA books. There is a big uproar every time someone saying something unfavourable about an author's work. Why? People definitely shouldn't be mob attacking anyone but there should be room for criticism even if its done not so eloquently. This protectionist attitude isn't very helpful. 


What do you think?