Is It Just Me: Reviewers' Philosophy on Legitimacy and Objectivity

There is a book, and you can tell it is good. You can tell because it is diverse with a rich world. It is honest and raw. The characters are developed and you can feel that this book is well crafted. Except, it's not connecting to you. You see where it is good but you feel very little connection. "Objectively", the book is good, but there is something missing for you.

Sometimes, I wonder if it's even fair to say it is my fault. Books won't work for some readers, and as a reviewer, am I supposed to know when a book is likely to be enjoyed by other readers and it's just me? And if so, can't that be said for every book ever? All books that are published have fans and positives. Even things I can't stand are acceptable to different readers. 

It is impossible for me to read a book as anyone other than myself. I can try to be objective and consider other points of view, but even then, it's me imagining what other people think based on my experiences and particular perceptions of the world. I'm not even going to pretend I can be objective because I can't. Which leads me back to this question: if a book does not work for me, is there any merit in saying it is still a good book because I think that most other people would like it seeing as I am not most other people and it did not work for me?

Is there a problem if a book does not work for me? I would say, yes. I go into every book hoping to enjoy it, and if I end up not liking a book or feeling a disconnect, there is a problem. In general, I believe it is fair to say that some books are not meant for some audiences. For example, I am not going to enjoy another Poseur book ever again in my life because my reading tastes have changed and the mean girl storyline bores me. It's also fair to say I refuse to read a contemporary about marriage and a couple with an affair unless perhaps there is a murder or superheroes or some other really epic occurrence. There are genres I enjoy less than others and it's not unfair to say that I am not the right reader for these books and that is perhaps why I disliked them and fans of the genre would feel differently.

But let's look at this with some more complexity: first, I am a reviewer which means my thoughts on a book is somewhat relevant to me, if not to others. And second, as a reviewer, I know myself well enough to figure out when a certain book is not my type. I am well trained in the art of screening books for red flags and every book that I decide to read is read with the expectation that it will be enjoyed. 

Now, if after all this, after I expect myself to be the audience for a book and find out it does not work, is the, "not the right audience" explanation still valid? I think it is, from the author's standpoint, and even from some readers' standpoints. But I do not believe it is valid from the reviewer's standpoint. 

First, I do identify as a reviewer because I like to pinpoint what I like or didn't like in a book and engage in some kind of dialogue with the world about this book. The dialogue is often a monologue, but that doesn't bother me too much. And, as a reviewer, I need to judge. If it's accepted that I can't judge as anyone other than myself, because I really can't, is it fair to expect me to disregard my personal feelings for a book because I'm not the right audience? Especially when I went into the book with the expectations that I was the right audience and this book would be interesting for me? 

In other words, if I'm missing that connection or spark or whatever it is that can't be explained in terms of the quality of world building or plot, or any other rational matter, can I still validly write about why a book wasn't good? And furthermore, let's say there is something in particular I don't like as a reader, maybe I despise a certain character for some act that the author meant to made them despicable, is it fair for me to say "this is not a good book because I did not like this" when the author meant this flaw?

I think it's more the second question that is debated in the blogging world, and it's really that which is a little contentious. I have a strong belief that because I can't review for anyone other than myself, and because I don't believe my reviews have any real objective basis or even mean all that much more than one person's simple opinion, any thought I have on a book is completely valid. After all, a review is just my thoughts on a book, and it is quite flimsy. I don't think my review is a very legitimate anything other than opinion. To get a clear idea of a book, one must read several reviews and semi-legitimate statements about the entire book (it has good characters, world building, plot, etc.) are formed through numerous similar opinions. 

So how can a reviewer be expected to have any legitimate opinion on a book by herself? I would say she can't. It's more the trends that reviewers, each being completely honest to themselves and writing their own honest accounts, can collectively impart some sort of legitimate knowledge. If you believe like I do, than the only thing a reviewer has to do is write her opinion regardless of what she thinks others will say because ideally it washes out throughout the reviews of others. 

Of course, many people do not consider all reviews and not all books are widely reviewed, which is why sometimes, individual reviewers are much more important and have a wider share of legitimacy than one would think reasonable. Does this this mean that reviewers should consider other people again in their reviews? 

I think I'll stop here because frankly, I'm interested in other people's opinions at this point and I don't want this post to be any longer than it is (which I apologize, because it's pretty much an essay. Gold star for you if you got this far!). So please feel free to share any thoughts!


What do you think?

TV Review: Suits (and other fun stuff!)

I was reading a horribly long, intensely dull piece about liberalism, when I realized I was falling asleep. I could not even pretend to think the writing was worth reading, and my body has realized that if it becomes sleepy, I stop doing undesirable acts. So, with that, I decided I needed a new TV show to watch. And after some Googling, I came across Suits.

And we fell in love and lived happily ever after.

Okay, no, I'm about midway through Season 2 as of the day I'm writing this. Suits has been my motivation for doing work. Suits has been my "shut up brain, don't think". I suppose some people use drugs for that (getting blackout drunk finally makes sense!) but I will always turn to distractions, and art is one of my favs. I mean, I've been book blogging for years now!

Now, no doubt, you have landed on this page expecting a review. Except, I regret to inform you, there is a problem with that. I have no interest in writing a review. You see, usually when I love something I can gush about it with someone. But none of my friends have watched Suits and Mari's texts hbeen rather slow going, so I am lost in my own cloud of excitement, without anyone to share it with. So, this is what this post is about. Me. Suits. Why I like it.

First of all, I will confess my guilty love for everything that is fancy. I've always been curious about power. I mean, I'm doing a minor in political science, the study of power, and majoring in management, aka I want to use some power. But I'm not a power-hungry tyrant at all. Nope. Zip it, Mari. I love the idea of the best; the elite. I love it in everything. I love watching sports because of that, I love just watching professors, I read random articles about why Taylor Swift killed 2014, that type of shizz. And Suits is about the best closer in New York. Mmm.

But there is another part to why I love Suits, and this is something I don't like admitting, but I'm trying to be more honest in what I write so it must be said: Suits is also about entering this world, and feeling like you don't belong. This is something many people deal with and it has a name: imposter syndrome. I've learned a lot about imposter syndrome in university, from actually experiencing it, but also to hearing my professors, and some really fabulous Google wizards in a career panel, talk about it. Mike Ross is an outsider to this world of prestige, and he doesn't feel like he belongs. Slowly, he begins to see that he belongs. And not only does he belong, he kicks ass. Mike is a genius but he was always limiting himself. I think that''s a very human lesson everyone can relate to.

Thanks to my twitterfeed, I've also noticed closely how amazing the female characters in Suits are. These women are fierce and powerful while being feminine. But, realistically, the show also shows their limitations. Jessica Pearson as a black boss of a Big Law firm is literally a goddess. She is powerful and elegant and sadly, she is a minority because there are not many female women in such high positions. The show does a wonderful job of illustrating that some of the smartest people aren't considered the best people. Rachel is a paralegal, for example, just because she can't do LSATs. And that's a shame because she's brilliant and hardworking, and completely capable of being an associate. Donna knows everything about the office and can hold her own, but she's a secretary, and her position is valued less than Harvey's even though she keeps everything together.

These women are amazing, and although there is no leading lady, I love the ladies in Suits.

But let's also talk about Mr. Spector, your typical badass, except he's really good at that position. Harvey Spector is living the life. He is rich, he is charming, good looking, and smart. And OBVIOUSLY he is a good guy that cares more than other people think. Obviously. This kind of character is such a stereotype, but Harvey Spector is someone that is intriguing either way because he's so good at this role. His role as a mentor, and a bit of a parent for Mike, produces some really heartwarming scenes. He chews Mike out and says some really harsh shit, but he says it because he cares. He is so full of bullshit while being honest, and I think I'll stop here.

What else...

Oh! The show is about corporate law! And to be honest, I think the plotline is not that great. Suits is awesome because it has very fascinating characters that are incredibly intriguing. Maybe this changes in later seasons, but I'm not watching the show to see what happens next, I'm watching it because I love Mike, Harvey, Rachel, Jessica, and Donna. Also, I really do have a thing for guys in Suits. Also, the show inspires my business outfits. Hm.

This show is my motivation for doing work. Y'all should watch it. And if you have, fangirl with me! But don't spoil anything, thank you very much.

Also, for further reading on Suits, and I warn that some of these are spoilery:
1. Suits is the best show that smart people aren't talking about. 
2. Suits: Secretly Subversive About Talking About Women in the Workforce
3. Suits Does for Lawyers What Downtown Abbey Does for Artistocrats


What do you think?

Life of a Blogger: Goals and Dreams

This is a wonderful meme type post hosted by Jessi @ Novel Heartbeat. Basically, there is a topic pertaining to the blogger every Thursday. This way we can all get to know the person behind the blog.

Mari's Goals and Dreams

Yikes, if someone had asked me this a year ago I would've written them the world's longest essay. Now that I've caught a whiff of just how out of reach some of those dreams are, I've shrunk the list. Not that I've given up, but I think I'll take life one step at a time and try to enjoy.

For goals, beyond personal improvements which are always taking place, I have some academic ones. I'm in university for a commerce degree so I would really like to achieve that while maintaining a high average. And since we're already on the topic of business, I want more business clothes... They're just so pretty!

In the long terms my goals are to get a nice job that travels! I'm leaving it vague on purpose, you never know where you end up.

At this exact point in time, my one real dream is to travel. I want to see places but I don't want to go alone or don't have the guts to do it alone, just yet. I'm working on it.

Move to a bigger city would be a start. I love Ottawa but I want to also live in other places. The travelling job will help with this. Someplace in Europe would be nice or anywhere warm: Vancouver, LA etc.

Visit Scotland! Visit Russia! Visit Italy ahhhhh Yes. I want to travel and sight see.

P.E.'s Goals and Dreams

Academic goals notwithstanding, I think my goals have also simplified. I'm also in management so obviously I want to be employed after I graduate. I don't know about which field, so one goal is to figure out what I like and what I'm good at. 

Most of my goals are short term. Be a good person today. Be happy today, and tomorrow. Probably the biggest thing I'm trying to work on is productivity. I spend an inordinate amount of time doing nothing and although I've always gotten everything I need done on time, I want to learn about being more productive now. That means I'm trying to make effective routines for things like sleeping, laundry, food, and school work. 

I don't know if I have many dreams. Maybe paying off all my student loans? I've never been able to picture where I'll be in the future, so I've decided that the best way to get to somewhere I would want to be is to be where I want to be. That means that if I make the right choice now and am happy now, then I shouldn't need to worry about the future. In general, I want to be educated and open-minded; someone fair that has earned a lot of respect. 

This was pretty hard, how about you?


What do you think?

WoW - Ruthless

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


July 14, 2015

A spine-tingling debut about the ultimate game of cat-and-mouse in reverse as a teen struggles to retain hope—and her sanity—while on the run from a cunning and determined killer.

Ruth Carver has always competed like her life depends on it. Ambitious. Tough. Maybe even mean. It’s no wonder people call her Ruthless.

When she wakes up with a concussion in the bed of a moving pickup trick, she realizes she has been entered into a contest she can’t afford to lose.

At a remote, rotting cabin deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Ruth’s blindfold comes off and she comes face-to-face with her captor. A man who believes his mission is to punish bad girls like Ruth. A man who has done this six times before.

The other girls were never heard from again, but Ruth won’t go down easy. She escapes into the wilderness, but her hunter is close at her heels. That’s when the real battle begins. That’s when Ruth must decides just how far she’ll go in order to survive.

Back home, they called her Ruthless. They had no idea just how right they were.
I'm very much interested in these scary thriller type books right now. It started with I Hunt Killers --- The Vanishing Girl --- Omens and now this. I want.

 What are You Waiting For?



What do you think?

Cover Wars: The Girl at Midnight vs Song of Blood and Stone

Cover Wars is a weekly showdown of two beautiful covers. The winner, as voted by you, goes on to face a new cover, and wins bragging rights. This is basically a fun way to discuss what we like in covers.

Song of Blood and Stone is lethal. It has systematically destroyed every single one of its competitors and it doesn't seem to be slowing down. That doesn't stop The Girl at Midnight from giving this a go!

Purple vs. pink! Pretty swirls vs. more pretty swirls! Great font vs. great font! Only difference is, one of these covers has a person on it. Both covers feature the starts, and both are lots of fun. Which shall win?


What do you think?

Review: The Vanishing Girl

Author: Laura Thalassa
Date of Publication: January 27, 2015
Pages: 338
Source: Netgalley - Thank you!

Every night after Ember Pierce falls asleep, she disappears. She can teleport anywhere in the world—London, Paris, her crush’s bedroom—wherever her dreams lead her. Ten minutes is all she gets, and once time’s up, she returns to her bed. It's a secret she’s successfully kept for the last five years. But now someone knows.

A week after her eighteenth birthday, when frustratingly handsome Caden Hawthorne captures her, delivers her to the government, and then disappears before her eyes, Ember realizes two things: One, she is not alone. And two, people like her—teleporters—are being used as weapons.

Dragged off to a remote facility where others like her live, Ember’s forced to pair up with her former captor, Caden, to learn how to survive inside until she can escape. Only Caden’s making escape seem less and less appealing.

But even as Ember falls for the boy who got her into this mess, she knows that she is running out of time. Because the government has plans for those like her, and those plans might just cost Ember her life.

This one's a book I’m surprised to say that I hadn't heard much about. I’m surprised because it has a gorgeous cover, an experienced author and a fantastic synopsis. The best part, however, was the story itself. I thoroughly enjoyed this fast-paced action-thriller.

The Vanishing Girl is a story of teleporters. People who, with the help of genetic manipulation, have the unique ability to teleport to a random or government controlled destination for the first 10 minutes of falling asleep. Our heroine, Ember, is one of these unique few who have managed to remain out of the reach of the government. However that issue is amended soon enough.

The whole set up of how the teleporters and the Generation Project came to be was fascinating. The idea of male and female pairs was interesting; it sure did leave room for some awesome sexual tension. The project itself and the training, schooling and missions were another fascinating aspect. I do think, however that more time could’ve been spent on the development of skills via training and more missions as at some points Ember’s sudden display of skill was jarring since it seemed to have sprouted from nowhere, despite the DNA explanation.

After being captured and taken to the teleporters' facility, Ember is introduced to her pair, Caden, Blonde, beautiful and deadly, Caden is the perfect soldier; the project's best. Their interactions were kind of weak in the beginning, now that I look back, but Caden was quite likeable and they quickly grew to understand and like each other. For ever loyal soldier's bone in Caden’s body, there is a similar curious and suspicious one in Ember. Together they could find out anything, which gives me hope for the next book especially after that devastatingly evil ending. 

I would categorize this books as new adult, because there are sexual relationships and a focus on the scientific side of teleporter reproduction. I actually really enjoyed this aspect. In no way was the story centred about the characters' sexual relationships. Instead, sex was recognized as a very human thing and used to further the relationships but besides that it never really overshadowed the plot.

There were definitely holes as there often are in such books but like watching the next Taken movie, you take some things with a grain of salt and just sit back and enjoy. This book was like watching an action movie unfurl in my head. It was fast, it was kickass and scared me to death at some point but at its core it was very enjoyable. I look forward to the sequel.



What do you think?

Review: All Our Yesterdays

Author: Cristin Terrill
Date of Publication: September 3 2013
Pages: 360
Source: Library

What would you change?

Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside. 

Marina has loved her best friend, James, since they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it... at least, not as the girl she once was. Em and Marina are in a race against time that only one of them can win.

All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.


I am officially in a reading slump. It probably has something to do with the mood I am in, but it could also have to do with not finding a book that clicks with me very well. All Our Yesterdays is a decent book, except that I had very little interest in it.

I remember the hype when Terrill's book came out. I was convinced I would like it. It's been quite some time since that hype, so I can say that most of it wore off. I was ready to enjoy All Our Yesterdays.

The simple truth is that the we never clicked. The sort of story told in All Our Yesterdays does not get along with me. I didn't care for any of the characters and I thought the book was quite long for something with what I thought was a small span of actions. All Our Yesterdays never surprised me. I expected the story to have the ending that it did, and I think I didn't pick up on the urgency.

Em and Finn are in a horrific future but for me, there was a little too much of "this future is horrific" versus showing me this world and allowing me to convince myself of its horror. Because, as it stood, hearing about wars with certain countries did nothing but pique my interest, and that's only because I'm possibly minoring in political science and I'm interested in the breakdown of state relationships. So, the buildup of tension didn't work for me.

I don't know why I didn't like the characters. I think it's because they bored me. I'm sure Marinas, or rich kids with insecurity issues and awful parents exist, but I got that character all out of my system in seven and eighth grade. I didn't have strong feelings about Em or Finn, and James' character, well, let's say that I needed to know a little more. His story arch is another one of those things I'm really fascinated about, and would have liked more development for because it's something I have trouble believing.

Admittedly, a lot of this dissatisfaction is based on my personal world view and parameters of what can or can't happen in the world. You can easily chalk this up to mood. I'll try to focus on some positives now.

There was a strong friendship. The story was non-linear, and I always like that. It was creative.

Eh, I think I'll just call it quits. All Our Yesterdays did not work for me, but maybe it will work for you.



What do you think?

Books I Need In My Life: 2015 Edition

It's not like my weekly Waiting on Wednesday's are enough pining, I have to make an annual one as well. Behold, my most anticipated releases of 2015. In no particular order...

Maddy Spier has been in love with the boy next door forever. As his figure skating partner she spends time in his arms every day. But she’s also seen his arms around other girls—lots of other girls. 

Gabe can't imagine skating with anyone but Maddy, and together they have a real chance at winning some serious gold medals. So, he’s determined to keep thinking of her like a sister. After all, he’s never had a romantic relationship that lasted for more than two weeks.

But when their coach assigns a new romantic skating program, everything changes. Will this be the big break that Maddy’s been hoping for or the big breakup that Gabe has always feared? (GR)
January 6, 2015
... I just realized this book has already come out and is game to be devoured. In spirit of my eventual devouring of this book lets talk about it's awesomeness.

Soo cute!

Figure skating!!! I'm just going to imagine Tessa and Scott in the book and adore it through and through. I've never really read anything about skating and as a fan of the sport, I would love this for a cozy and snowy Sunday afternoon read.

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi's wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.(GR)

May 12, 2015
Not many people have heard of Khorasan unless they are of Persian origins or really into history, which makes me so excited to see that there is a whole book set in it! I've never read A Thousand and One Night's but the premise of this one gives me a bit of a Bluebeard and Cruel Beauty feel. Sounds amazing!

When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend— two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party — three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship. (GR)
May 5, 2015
This one sounds way to fun for me to ignore! I can't wait to see how their relationship develops, light romance is always a nice breather.

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? (GR)
April 21, 2015
I absolutely adores Prisoner of Smoke and Fog. I am very curious to see where this book will take us and how the characters will go about growing their relationship. Also, the beginning of WW2 is the setting so tensions are high especially for our almost political refuge protagonists.

When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless— straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night? (GR)
May 5, 2015
Cruel Beauty was another favourite form 2014 and I intend to continue the series. I especially appreciate heroines who can fight, Cruel Beauty had that but I think this one will take it to another level; the girl is guarding the Prince!! I love the cover and have high hopes to see more of Hodge's genius world.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever. (GR)
May 5, 2015
It's not like I need the comparison to Kristin Cashore meeting George R.R. Martin to catapult me into reading a Sarah J. Maas book, but that sure as hell sealed the already sealed deal! I need this in my life.

I haven't been able to enjoy many faerie books but Maas's faerie's - if they are anything like the ones in Throne of Glass- are definitely up my alley.

Are any of these on your list?


What do you think?

Review: Omens

Author: Kelley Armstrong
Date of Publication: Aug 20/2013
Pages: 486
Source: Library

Twenty-four-year-old Olivia Taylor Jones has the perfect life. The only daughter of a wealthy, prominent Chicago family, she has an Ivy League education, pursues volunteerism and philanthropy, and is engaged to a handsome young tech firm CEO with political ambitions.

But Olivia’s world is shattered when she learns that she’s adopted. Her real parents? Todd and Pamela Larsen, notorious serial killers serving a life sentence. When the news brings a maelstrom of unwanted publicity to her adopted family and fiancé, Olivia decides to find out the truth about the Larsens.

Olivia ends up in the small town of Cainsville, Illinois, an old and cloistered community that takes a particular interest in both Olivia and her efforts to uncover her birth parents’ past.

Aided by her mother’s former lawyer, Gabriel Walsh, Olivia focuses on the Larsens’ last crime, the one her birth mother swears will prove their innocence. But as she and Gabriel start investigating the case, Olivia finds herself drawing on abilities that have remained hidden since her childhood, gifts that make her both a valuable addition to Cainsville and deeply vulnerable to unknown enemies. Because there are darker secrets behind her new home and powers lurking in the shadows that have their own plans for her.
Omens is what I would call a beautiful mishmash of paranormal/thriller/mystery and suspense. This book kept me on the edge of my seat and for at least the first 30% of the book, I was wondering if it was supposed to paranormal or not. I think the vagueness of genre actually helped build the aspect of suspense and mystery which set up for quite an awesome read. 

Omens introduces us to the socialite main character, Olivia Taylor-Jones, Masters in Victorian Lit and fiance of Mr. Right. However, it’s not long before her perfect little world is disturbed with the news of her adoption and the identity of her biological parents, Pamela and Todd Larsen, a couple of serial killers, becoming public.

This book was fascinating to read in so many aspects. First there was Olivia coming to term with her new situation. Then it progressed to her actually getting actively involved in the situation and then came all the creepy and crazy stuff.. Who am I kidding, that stuff started quite early, it’s why the book was so fun. I say fun but I was scared mindless half the time… Note: this book probably wasn’t meant to be that scary.

The little town of Cainsville was very picturesque in my mind; I mean gargoyles! I also appreciated the slight history provided about the settlers, its development along with its inhabitants and their abilities. As per the title, our heroine could interpret omens. A poppy is a death omen and a black cat is good luck. These omens ranged from intriguing to down right sending chills up my spine, depending on the context. But all in all, a very interesting addition.

Olivia or Eden Larsen, was an enjoyable narrator. I appreciated being in her head as she was very intelligent and courageous. She can't stand to sit around and be “protected” and I respected that. She is one of those women who likes to take her life in her own hands and I’m glad to say hers were capable hands as our brooding main man finds out.

Gabriel Bowen is a successful young defence lawyer that strolls around in a Jaguar and has a special relationship with money and biker gangs. Gabriel was the misunderstood bad boy. He was big and tall and successful because he wasn't afraid of getting his hands dirty. I loved how he made mistakes in dealing with Olivia. His only interests are money and success but his partnership with her teaches him a bit about friendship and trust. I would like more than friendship and I can see the possibility in the horizon which makes me very excited as the slow and sensual ones are always the best.

The plot itself was engaging and suspenseful but I did have a little bit of an issue with the twist. To me, it popped out of nowhere. At first they were investigating something very plausible and then bam, random thing that ended up being connected. It sent me for a bit of a twirl but otherwise I did thoroughly enjoy the mystery. 

Overall, a nice mystery read with a dash of paranormal and suspense on the side. Also, for those worried about the adult rating, besides the characters' ages (24+) and a sex scene in the beginning, the only other graphic scenes are those of violence as the genre entails. Definitely recommend it to mature young adult readers.



What do you think?

WoW - Last Year's Mistake

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

Last Year's Mistake

June 9, 2015

Kelsey and David became best friends the summer before freshman year and were inseparable ever after. Until the night a misunderstanding turned Kelsey into the school joke, and everything around her crumbled—including her friendship with David. So when Kelsey's parents decided to move away, she couldn't wait to start over and leave the past behind. Except, David wasn't ready to let her go...

Now it's senior year and Kelsey has a new group of friends, genuine popularity, and a hot boyfriend. Her life is perfect. That is, until David's family moves to town and he shakes up everything. Soon old feelings bubble to the surface and threaten to destroy Kelsey's second chance at happiness. The more time she spends with David, the more she realizes she never truly let him go. And maybe she never wants to.

Told in alternating sections, LAST YEAR'S MISTAKE is a charming and romantic debut about loving, leaving, and letting go.
That cover though... that car. Quite shiny, I like it. The cover definitely caught my attention but the synopsis makes me think that I might want to stay around for the story.

 What are You Waiting For?



What do you think?

Cover Wars: Zodiac vs Song of Blood and Stone

Cover Wars is a weekly showdown of two beautiful covers. The winner, as voted by you, goes on to face a new cover, and wins bragging rights. This is basically a fun way to discuss what we like in covers.

Song of Blood and Stone is making a very early bid for the cover of 2015, because it has won every week of 2015 thus far. Zodiac is the next challenger!

These covers are both super gorgeous, and somewhat similar. It's the use of colour and the subtle design bits that really make both covers outstanding. The title is bold and distinctive, and there are lighter and the use of light versus dark colours is creative for both covers. Song of Blood and Stone does it as a silhouette, and Zodiac does it with a nice gradient mix. I wouldn't mind reading either of these, based on purely on the cover!

Now, dear readers, it is up to you! Vote for your favourites! And may the best cover win!


What do you think?

Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Author: Rae Carson
Date of Publication: September 20 2011
Pages: 423
Source: Library

Elisa is the chosen one. 

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will. 

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.


There are a lot of things to like about The Girl of Fire and Thorns, and it is likely that I will read the sequel. That is mostly based on the love this series gets, and my appreciation for the positives in The Girl of Fire and Thorn, and my expectations that the weaknesses will be improved upon.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns does something many fantasy books don't: it strays from glamour. It is gritty in a very mundane way. It is about a girl that does not appear flawless and this consciousness of the main character's body is consistent. It's not even that Elisa believes she is fat and constantly comments on her size. Elisa's aches and pains are mentioned as she grows through hard journeys, and she somehow does get injured. Her body is a part of the story and I suppose it's strange to be so shocked at this but honestly, body awareness in books does not exist unless the character is involved in some sort of romance. And that's new.

Elisa is a main character that I don't feel very strongly about. She is good with children, and she is very real. She is able to admit when she is wrong and she is a very thoughtful character. My only complaint about Elisa is that her transformation and growth felt too fast. The character development wasn't as strong as I would have liked, and the key to this is what I would have liked because I generally appreciate detail. Steps forward, steps back, etc. And it's quite possible that these steps occurred because Rae Carson sped through some time. It could be that she decided scenes like this would not be relevant to her story, and that's completely valid. But I would have liked those details into Elisa's change, because she does change, and maybe I would appreciate it more with some more details. My comparison would be Clara in Winterspell.

The fantasy style in The Girl of Fire and Thorns is what I call light fantasy. All the basic elements of fantasy are included and reasonably explained. There is magic and kingdoms, and the world isn't overly explained because Elisa knows very little. This means there is some black and whiteness happening, but I did like that there were some moral questions about the costs of a revolution and allowing people to die. I suppose that's what the rest of the series is for.

One interesting aspect is the inclusion of God. I felt like that was almost taboo in YA if you're not reading Christian Lit, so to have a character pray to God and be so devout is fascinating. Especially because religion is not a big part of my life, but I did grow up with some religious instruction, and reading about Elisa's relationship with her spirituality was so creative and different.

There are enough of these little elements of originality that give me hope for this series. Based on some of the comments for Crown of Embers, Carson's books improve, and so I'm excited to continue with this series. Regardless of some of my qualms about the actual story of this first book, there is a lot to like. 3 stars, because I liked it.



What do you think?

Review: Sinner

Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Date of Publication: July 1, 2014
Pages: 357

Sinner follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 New York Times bestselling Shiver Trilogy. Everybody thinks they know Cole's story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole's darkest secret -- his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel's life. Can this sinner be saved?


I've decided that it's not very useful to spend an entire review singing the virtues of a certain character, so let me get it over with. COLE.


Cole St. Clair is one of my favourite characters because he is so incredibly vivid. Cole constantly puts on a show and he blurs the lines between fake and real. Cole is magnetic, and the type of person I would love in my life because he is so spontaneous. He wants to really live a fascinating, fun life, and is always pushing the limits. I think it's his fun-loving, adventurous spirit and the passion he had for music that drew me to him. 

Isabel, who is remarkably like Elsa from Frozen when you think about it, continues her Ice Queen act. Except, as readers privy to Isabel's thoughts, it becomes clear that Isabel is in a lot of pain. She expresses her pain by numbing it. It doesn't matter. She doesn't care. She distances herself from anything that could hurt her, and this also ends up hurting her. Isabel is also putting on a show, but hers is different from Cole's. Isabel seems more desperate, more lost, more in need than Cole. Cole knows when he is putting on a facade, but Isabel starts believing she can't feel, and I feel like this difference matters. 

Not to say that Cole doesn't have his issues. He's a rock star and that sort of life has consequences. Cole has too much energy, and he was often described as 'manic'. He couldn't be more different than Isabel, who is so calm and cool all the time. For Isabel, it's hard to see have energy until some of the cracks of her Ice Queen persona appear and they're so unexpected that is was a little jarring for me. 

It is much easier to connect with Cole because he's really one of those amazing characters that you fall in love with and wish were real. But it's Isabel that I believe to be the most unique character. Perhaps she isn't the character I like more, but I'm curious about Isabel. There are moments where I feel like I've figured her out and can connect, and there are others that make me think she is still a mystery. With Cole, I feel like I understand him, but there is still that intrigue with Isabel that makes her incomparable, while Cole could be (pretty crudely) compared to Adam from Gayle Forman's books, to begin with. I will always love characters like Cole, but I think Isabel deserves a shoutout too. 

Judging from the amount I've written about both characters thus far, you can tell that this book is mostly about the characters. I don't think there is any outside plot beyond the development of Cole and Isabel and their relationship. The tone of Sinner is a bit different from Stiefvater's other work. I think it's a bit more accessible to people that aren't into the very atmospheric, fatalistic writing that was in Shiver, The Scorpio Races, and The Raven Boys. Sinner is urban. It does not require much memory of the events of Shiver, although I suppose they would help fill some gaps because Stiefvater does not recap her previous series. The writing is more raw and precise. Isabel is quite the minimalist, and Cole only cares about what he needs, so none of the characters are the types to really describe things in much detail, and the writing reflects that. 

I think Sinner was what I wanted it to be, and I enjoyed Cole and Isabel's story. I love Maggie Stiefvater's work, and I'm happy that she gave her two more interesting characters, Cole and Isabel, a chance at a resolution. As always, I'm eagerly awaiting her next book!



What do you think?

Mari's Top 2014 Reads

And my late 2014 loving continues. As mentioned in past posts, I read 39 books in 2014 (including textbooks hehe). Now I've pinned down my absolute favourites. Here goes.

Yes, I read this one at the end of the year but it blew my mind. Blew it all the way to Scotland, through Craigh Na Dun and pushed it back a few hundred years into the 17th century. Followed closely by a rainy horseback ride (on Donas) right into Jamie Fraser's heart. I'm serious.

Mistress of Rome (Review)
 GLADIATORRRSSSS. (This posts might soon turn into gibberish because of my undying lust for all these books.) This book totally fed my Ancient Rome and romantic gladiator craving. Only problem is I need more always more and good thing because there are sequels! More like companions but I'll be checking them out.

Isla and the Happily Ever After (Review)
I'm glad that I stayed away from the reviews about this one because it seems the story didn't wow some people and as a person who can get put off a book by negative reviews I tread carefully. This book was like magic for me, I want to say that it was even better than Anna but I can't quite bring myself because I feel like I'm not a good judge especially since my memory of Isla is fresh while Anna's has become vague with the passage of time. It doesn't matter which is "better", the most important thing is that they are both so fantastic and after the Lola (not my favourite) I'm glad to see a beautiful ending to this amazing series.  

Prisoner of Night and Fog (Review)
I was instantly hooked by the synopsis of this one, I loved the idea but as a cautious reader I was horrified of disappointment. I shouldn't have been. Blankman surpassed each and every one of my expectations, I just wish there was more. Glad to hear there is a sequel but for those who aren't too keen on starting yet another series, I would say this one can stand alone quite well. Read the sequel or don't, but don't miss this one.

Heir of Fire (Review)
I don't know how I loved a book with so little Chaol and Celeana scenes but omg I did, I loved it all. I especially loved the new characters Rowan and Aedion. This series has tell tale signs of remaining on my eternal favourites list. P.E. needs to continue this series... please pressure her :)

Take Me On (Review)
There are two contemporaries on this list and they couldn't be more different from each other. Take Me On is one of my favourite types of stories-- it surrounds athletes! Especially MMA. It's amazing to see a girl who can hold her own in a fight but the story also explores the fact that just because she can fight doesn't mean that she doesn't need people to love and defend her. The family aspect of the story was on point. McGarry's best thus far, IMO.

Cruel Beauty and The Winner's Curse (R&R)
These guys definitely deserve singular recognition but for the sake of time we're going to adore them together. These two were definitely standouts in the new fantasy reads of 2014 category. I loved how unique each story was. The authors have created fantastic new worlds in each book but the highlights for me were the witty and smart characters. The females were strong, courageous and tenacious, I loved them. I'm sure we'll be hearing great things about these two series in the years to come.

So many good books!



What do you think?

DNF Review: I Want It That Way

Author: Ann Aguirre
Date of Publication: Aug26/14
Pages: 352
Source: Library

Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she's determined to make them come true—for her parents' sake as well as her own. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, she barely has time to think, let alone date. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B…. 

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can't risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, a social life is out of the question. The last thing he wants is for four noisy students to move into the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia's and Ty's paths cross, and soon they can't stay away from each other. 

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can't know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.

It seems that every DNF review starts with the premise/disclaimer "So I finally got to pick this one up after having read many positive reviews and enjoyed the sound of the synopsis.” And once again that is exactly the case with this one, unfortunately it’s followed by the default, “However, I couldn’t get into the story”.

I Want It That Way is Ann Aguirre, author of YA Enclave Series’, foray into new adult. The story is about Nadia who moves into apartment 2B with her roommates: BFF Lauren, playboy Max and gay friend Angus. They all make an adorable cast, playing, dating and bonding. However, Nadia’s attentions is drawn by the hot downstairs neighbour Ty, a grumpy and tired young father. Mutual interest rises and the rest is history. 

I liked how Nadia came from modest means and was not the common NA heroine with serious psychological damage. She was driven and dedicated to her Special Education degree and this was shown through her daily activities, school, daycare, practicum, home, repeat. It was nice to see a character have a life for once and complain about not having time to eat but sometimes I felt like there was a junk paragraph in the middle of the page telling me that Nadia went to work today where everything was same old, same old; a little unnecessary.

Ty was alright. I did’t really understand him. He was hard to relate to not because he was a father, I think that was my favourite bit about him. His interactions with his 4 year old son, Sam, were wonderful. His job and architecture major were also nice additions, but anything beyond that and voyaging into the world of social skills were questionable. I didn’t find him romantic and for a romance that’s a major of a killer. I’ll say it this way, there were no sparks flying, it was all tell and no show and I can’t take that.

I guess whenever the story surrounds a common or cliche story line there are risks. That could’ve been the main problem here but my issue was more general. There was a wide disconnect between the reader, the character and the plot. Despite being in Nadia's head, I didn’t connect with her, I didn’t understand how or why she started to like Ty (besides the fact that he is a ginger). And the push and pull was all kind of nonsensical for me. I was lost and felt nothing. I skimmed through the sex scene and felt nothing.

It honestly, is too bad because people have enjoyed it, but the direction the story was taking by 56% of the way through was not something that pulls me enough to keep me on the hook. I was intrigued by the possible development of Lauren and Max’s relationship in the future books, so maybe I’ll try that one, but this book is not for me. 



What do you think?