Cover Wars: A Madness So Discreet vs. Of Dreams and Rust

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.

Excuse the absence. This week we are back with Of Dreams and Rust which is up against the gorgeous A Madness So Discreet.  





The cover of Of Dreams and Rust is one those covers just pull me and make me want take them in. A Madness So Discreet is different. It's wild and dark and creepy but it manages to peak a fascination in me. I adore these two.

What do you guys think? Remember to vote for your favourite cover!

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The Allure of House of Cards: The Game

As of writing this, I am about halfway through Season 1 of House of Cards. Don't spoil the show for me, and the only spoiler in this post is something a character said, which is not a major plot twist or even a mystery. 

Blues and blacks and muted colours appear on the screen as the introduction plays, showcasing a city that is unflinchingly cold. Monuments and landmarks are part of a montage of the institution of power. There are no people.

There is no humanity in Francis Underwood's face. It is smug, grey, and unflinchingly cold. He commands every room he enters, with his soft, lilting words. There is no need to raise his voice.

There is a simple truth about people like Francis Underwood in the world. To play their game is to lose it. They make the rules, and reconstruct the world into their image. There is a widespread belief that power is the ability to tear people down.

A leader stands alone.

Trust is a mirage.

In a world of anarchy, people choose to relinquish their freedom; they choose to be sheep rather than to live among wolves. There was a video about a philosopher that said that religion and morality were nothing but barriers weak people put on themselves because they were too afraid to seek what they truly wanted.



Claire says her husband offered her freedom. Freedom from boredom. Freedom from the monotonous typical. Freedom to live an exciting life, doing what she wants. Francis Underwood is repulsive. He loses the second people realize they are not required to play his game. Francis wins because he exposes the sins of others, and uses it against them as they hide away from their actions. He loses the second people accept weakness and take responsibility for actions.

The arena is politics, not exactly the bastion of accountability. That is why he so often wins Michael Walzer wrote about the tragic hero that is the politician; filled with vivid beliefs and dreams, forced to compromise and taint herself to win. The only way the politician redeems herself is through suffering. Francis does not suffer.

Claire, unlike Francis, shows signs of humanity. She is Francis' confidante, yet infinitely more fascinating. Francis is blind to any moral lines, but Claire sees and responds to them. She is charitable and kind, which makes her acts of cruelty much more potent. Francis lusts for power. What does Claire desire? What enables her to straddle moral boundaries, and be equally as likely to do something terribly manipulative as terribly considerate?

Claire Underwood's husband is easy to decipher. She is the one conflicted between power lust and morality. She is human, and her story is salient.

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WoW - Velvet Undercover

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

Velvet Undercover

October 20, 2015




Samantha Donaldson’s family has always done its duty for the British Crown. In the midst of World War I, seventeen-year-old Sam follows in their footsteps, serving her country from the homefront as a Girl Guide and messenger for the intelligence organization MI5. After her father disappears on a diplomatic mission, she continues their studies of languages, high-level mathematics, and complex puzzles and codes, hoping to make him proud.

When Sam is asked to join the famed women’s spy group La Dame Blanche she’s torn—this could be the adventure she’s dreamed of, but how can she abandon her mother, who has already lost a husband to the war? But when her handlers reveal shocking news, Sam realizes there’s no way she can refuse the exciting and dangerous opportunity.

Her acceptance leads her straight into the heart of enemy territory on a mission to extract the most valuable British spy embedded in Germany, known to the members of LDB only as Velvet. Deep undercover within the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Samantha must navigate the labyrinthine palace and its many glamorous—and secretive—residents to complete her assignment. To make matters worse she finds herself forming a forbidden attraction to the enemy-a dangerously handsome German guard. In a place where personal politics are treacherously entangled in wartime policy, can Samantha discover the truth and find Velvet before it’s too late…for them both?

From author Teri Brown comes the thrilling story of one girl’s journey into a deadly world of spycraft and betrayal—with unforgettable consequences.
The FALL 2015 books look so amazing!!! I had to come out from under my rock to share this one.

Firstly, that cover is stunning. I love the model's pose but my favourite is the title font. The feminine holden whirls looks great over the red of the backdrop.

Secondly, this novel is a historical ficiton and mentions La Dame Blanche! Outlander reference anyone?!! I might have fainted from happiness.

Third and finally, I love me anything World War, spy, and german related!

Enjoy.

 What are You Waiting For?

-MARI 

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Review: The Walls Around Us

Author: Nova Ren Suma
Date of Publication: March 24 2015
Pages: 336
Source: NetGalley

“Ori’s dead because of what happened out behind the theater, in the tunnel made out of trees. She’s dead because she got sent to that place upstate, locked up with those monsters. And she got sent there because of me.”

The Walls Around Us is a ghostly story of suspense told in two voices—one still living and one long dead. On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement. On the inside, within the walls of a girls’ juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom. Tying these two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries.

We hear Amber’s story and Violet’s, and through them Orianna’s, first from one angle, then from another, until gradually we begin to get the whole picture—which is not necessarily the one that either Amber or Violet wants us to see.

Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and innocence, and what happens when one is mistaken for the other. 

Review:

Nova Ren Suma and I have a complex relationship. I have read most of her books (this being the third), which is quite the shock because if you read my reviews for Imaginary Girls and 17 & Gone, it would be clear that the books never entirely worked for me. Make no mistake, I enjoyed them, but it was not until this one, The Walls Around Us, that I fully loved Suma's work. And maybe it's because the stories are mature and I'm finally at a point where I can appreciate them, and it's also probably because The Walls Around Us is what I believe to be her best work yet.

I notice a trend in Suma's writing: she writes about odd girls. Imperfect girls that have done something horrible or something horrible has been done to. In all her works she weaves innocence and horror together so that the lines between right and wrong blur. I thought she was always too vague in her endings, and The Walls Around Us is a story that is more digestible than Imaginary Girls or 17 & Gone because the reader is not as lost.

The story begins with Violet, a ballerina that readily admits has something horrible inside of her. Violet is a twisted character that is surprisingly humanized. I'm a little frightened to admit it but I have felt jealous like Violet when I see someone effortlessly brilliant, and it's not hard to see where Violet is coming from and how she is pushed over the limit. Even with this ability to understand Violet, there is a cold cruelty to her character that is perfectly written. It's also quite fascinating to be in Violet's head as she contemplates her choices.

Orianna is a beautiful character and her story is heartbreaking. There was one passage near the end that forced me to stop reading because it was so heart-wrenching and sad. Orianna is the type of person I want to be and I adore her. And not just in a, "what a great character!" sort of way. I'm rooting for Orianna just as hard as the other girls in the story.

Amber is perhaps the most complex of the characters. Her storyline has the most ambiguity, and for Amber, there was also one moment that made me have to stop reading: when she mentioned her ten year old sister. Amber is put in an extremely tough situation and although I can't ever condone her choices, I can't help but think that Amber was dealt a tough hand. She is ultimately the link in the story and her story is interesting because it is not directly linked to Violet and Orianna, but it is still greatly important.

Obviously, the characterization was top notch. The plot also deserves acclaim because it is extremely creative and wraps up perfectly. I never expected the ending with all its twists, even though I probably should have, and when I finished I'm not sure a sigh of contentment would have been out of place. This was a really good book.

Nova Ren Suma has always had beautiful, atmospheric writing that has the ability to draw tears from her readers but The Walls Around Us is her best book because finally, I was able to relate to her characters and it had a plot, even if it was not told linearly, that didn't confuse me with a visible end point. The themes, innocence and guilt, were extremely sharp and focused, and there are several phenomenal passages that stuck with me.

Even so, the story is haunting and gorgeous and insert other platitude for poetic writing. There is this glorious sense of fate in a Nova Ren Suma book and the story is always a mystery until the somewhat vague ending. Think Maggie Stiefvater but more ambiguous structurally, which makes me think Suma's possibly even more poetic. The Walls Around Us was less vague (although I did read the last thirty pages twice, which is really a testament to Nova Ren Suma because I rarely read anything twice) and it was engrossing and enjoyable to read the whole time.

This review has been coloured a lot by my thoughts on Suma's previous two books, and obviously it's a matter of personal preference to think this story was outstanding. But that's because Nova Ren Suma has always stood out as someone with extremely cool ideas and writing that never managed to pull it all off for me when it came to the plot. The Walls Around Us finally does that, and it is spectacular. I never really fully got a Nova Ren Suma book until this one. This is the Nova Ren Suma book I have always wanted, and my favourite part is that every time I read a Nova Ren Suma book, it is better than the previous one.  I don't know how it gets better than this, but I have full faith that her next book is going to slay. 


-P.E.





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Discussion: Books in College


A discussion with P.E. and Mari.

P.E.: I watch so much tv nowadays. More than I ever used to. I would say this is common for most college students, if the number of yaks praising Netflix are accurate. What would you say Mari?

MARI: #NETFLIXISLIFE and I understand why. With all the textbook reading it's no wonder there are not many braincells left that are willing to read; even for fun. Netflix kicks in at this point and offers fun without the use of brain. Nevertheless, I'm always pleasantly surprised on my bus rides to school where I see a great many people reading, digitally or using a hard copy book. Readers are a small community and we always go back to reading despite pit stops on Netflix and youtube.  On the other side of the spectrum, there are many more college students who have never picked up a book for fun and so to me that explains the yaks.
Gimme Netflix


P.E.: I think the fact that my commute is walking kills my time to read, because now I'm constantly going from campus to rez. And c'mon, these are college students. Have some faith. For me, it's really like you said. I  just read seventy pages of political science readings. I can't look at another word on the page. I can't. I need my brain to shut down. 

I'm starting to miss books though, like you said, to the point where I'm considering trying just ten minutes before bed. Having that other world to be excited about is so important for who I am. 

MARI: On the bright side, I don't think it's all sadness and dying kittens (I like puppies). People find other passions in university. I wouldn't pick up an economics book if you were to hit me over the head with one before I took economics. But now I find that I am fascinated with the subject and would appreciate reading more about it.

Similarly, I think you've come to find some academic reads that you enjoy. As long as your reading, I don't think it matters what your reading.

P.E.: You are seriously missing out. I did like 1/4 of a unit on monetary relations and now I feel like the shit when I read an article about currency and what that means for exports/imports/capital controls/interest rates and stuff. It's one of those things that is so easily applicable to day-to-day life. /end of P.E.'s economics love rant

And I disagree. Academic reading is different. I never realized how stylistically dry it was until I read an academic text that had metaphors and imagery and fun word play. Goddamn it academia, make your writing more interesting! I think fictional books that you pick for yourself are just so nice. School is making them novel, like little treats too, and I'm so psyched for next week when I get back home and raid the library.

Mari: Rein it in there buddy. My experiences have not been so terrible and I read books to procrastinate still :) I have experienced only two super dry textbook and those were both university custom edition. Overall, I understand others' struggle. I'll keep you in my mind when I go back to reading Mortal Heart by Robin Lafevers! (It's so good!)

Has College put a damper on your reading? 
and most importantly 
What, if anything, are you reading?


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WoW - The Weight of Feathers

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

The Weight of Feathers

September 15, 2015






For twenty years, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find. 

Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she's been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees. 


Beautifully written, and richly imaginative, The Weight of Feathers is an utterly captivating young adult novel by a talented new voice.
A little Romeo and Juliet-esque but I love the cover and the concept of tight-rope performers.

 What are You Waiting For?

-MARI 

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Review: Moon at Nine


Author: Deborah Ellis
Date of Publication: April 1st 2014
Pages: 224
Source: NetGalley Review copy-thank you!

Fifteen-year-old Farrin has many secrets. Although she goes to a school for gifted girls in Tehran, as the daughter of an aristocratic mother and wealthy father, Farrin must keep a low profile. It is 1988; ever since the Shah was overthrown, the deeply conservative and religious government controls every facet of life in Iran. If the Revolutionary Guard finds out about her mother’s Bring Back the Shah activities, her family could be thrown in jail, or worse.

The day she meets Sadira, Farrin’s life changes forever. Sadira is funny, wise, and outgoing; the two girls become inseparable. But as their friendship deepens into romance, the relationship takes a dangerous turn. It is against the law to be gay in Iran; the punishment is death. Despite their efforts to keep their love secret, the girls are discovered and arrested. Separated from Sadira, Farrin can only pray as she awaits execution. Will her family find a way to save them both?


Based on real-life events, multi-award winning author Deborah Ellis’s new book is a tense and riveting story about a world where homosexuality is considered so abhorrent that it is punishable by death.

Review:

Moon at Nine felt like a punch to the gut, and it left me heartbroken.

It’s post-revolution Iran, near the end of the war with Iraq. Farrin is our protagonist, and she is a young, rather privileged girl. Her naiveté is astounding. Farrin is sure of herself, and of her judgements of other people. A lot of this can be attributed to her rich upbringing, and I liked that she was so determined to get what she wanted, regardless of the consequences. This sort of determination always impresses me, and despite the problems caused by this character trait, I could believe it. Farrin knows what she wants and goes after it.

Sadira complemented Farrin. Sadira was wise and I perceived her as a calm, beautiful person. Farrin’s point of view completely expressed Sadira’s quiet grace. There’s a lot more to Sadira then one would think, and it’s really near the end of the story that Sadira just kills it. Like seriously, I was cheering for her so hard. She’s an intelligent person and a deep thinker. She’s a little different from Farrin, and the development of their relationship because of these differences was very well done. Sadira pushes Farrin to be a better person, and to look at the world outside of her bubble.

This story is a romance between Farrin and Sadira, two girls in a society where homosexuality is punished by death. I haven’t read very many lesbian romances, but this has to be among the sweeter romances I’ve ever read, period. It starts out very slow but then escalates aggressively. I could accept this sort of escalation because part of the romance’s sweetness was that it was the girls’ choice. The situation was very formative in the relationship, and gosh guys, I wish I could spoil some stuff and quote some extremely powerful pieces of writing.

It’s really the writing that makes me think this could be younger YA or MG. The themes are dark, but the writing is accessible and the power of this sort of writing really becomes apparent a little further into the story. I’m also very fascinated with how Deborah Ellis wrote the story. It was slow, and seemed like very little would happen, but then the plot accelerated and Moon at Nine was certainly not what I was expecting. It’s a lot more powerful, and there’s a certain element of political critique that I was extremely fascinated with.

I recommend Moon at Nine. It’s a story of injustice, and it’s an eye opener. It’s a very diverse story that takes place in a different setting than usual—Iran—and does it successfully. Very frankly, I think more people need to read stories about people in different countries. This is one of those, and it’s a good one.

-P.E.

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Life of Blogger: Routines

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
This is what I've been waiting for. In the morning I get awoken by my personal assistant, who then places my silk slippers on the ground before me.... Hehe, ya no. My life is quite boring and un-luxurious.

Weekdays:
  • University by 11am
  • Back to back classes until 4 or 7 depending on the day.
  • Nerding out on the internet because I'm deprived at home.
  • Not writing reviews like I should be.
  • Not listening to the Prof like I should be (right now).
  • Butting people in the line to the bus. 
  • Forcefully stuffing myself inside buses that are already at full capacity. 
  • Calling home to have them open the door because I'm 5 and hate looking for my keys.
  • Because I'm such a model student, studying only when exam starts to loom over my head.
Source

BEWARE: children don't follow my example and adults, I'm a surprisingly good student despite what you've see.

P.E.

Hmm, my life at home vs at school is different. At home, I do whatever I want whenever because I'm only there on vacations. I'll share what I do at school.


  • alarm clock rings. I press snooze. 
  • alarm clock rings again. Snooze.
  • alarm clock rings again. Snooze. 
  • *etc etc until I turn off the alarm clock
  • suddenly, wake up terrified I am late. Now, I try to wake up (aka, have my first alarm ring) around 8:45am most days (except for Tuesdays where I have to wake up at 6:45) and this is mitigated by the fact that I usually sleep from midnight to 1 am, or 2 am if I'm restless. College life, eh?
  • shower
  • next, I try to get some work done for my upcoming classes. Some days, like Wednesday, this is literally all I do because my class is recorded and thus I feel no compulsion to climb a hill to one of the furthest buildings on campus. 
  • most days, I eventually have class and go to that. I also end up getting a meal-to-go sandwich from the caf around then. 
  • come home, relax a bit and get back to work. But first, I usually try to watch tv or more recently, an episode of The Daily Show. 
  • more work
  • Eventually, I eat dinner. If I'm feeling overwhelmed, I eat alone. Otherwise, dinner with a friend.
  • somehow, hockey relaxes me so I watch games on TV if there is one. Otherwise, more work. 

I feel like I should put an asterisk to work because my productivity is not always the highest, and at every point in the day, it should be noted that I am on Twitter or reading articles, except during class because I'm super focused on there. 

I know my schedule seems boring, and a lot of the time it is, but I generally like my classes. Dinners are fun too, and on the weekends that I'm not busy, I'll end up going somewhere. My schedule is kinda rough right now because I had a two week period where I was busy all weekend, and then I had the flu and missed a week's worth of lectures and readings. I've been in catch-up mode every since... 


What are your choices?

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Cover Wars: Romancing the Dark in the City of Light vs Of Dreams and Rust

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.

Shall we go ahead and call Of Dreams and Rust the dragon-slayer? Two months into 2015, and only one cover had won: Song of Blood and Stone. At least, that was before Of Dreams and Rust got involved. This week, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light comes in!





First, these covers are soooo different. One is trippy and fun and modern, makes me think of clubs and being young and having fun. The other one is pure class; elegance, refined, and a subtle beauty. I'll let you guys guess which is which. In any case, both are stunners. 

What do you guys think? Remember to vote for your favourite cover!

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The Lost Imperials Series Book Trailer Release

Welcome (back) to the TIME WAR...

Books 2 & 3 of the best selling Lost Imperials series

Releasing 5/5/15

Clean Teen Publishing



Individual digital editions will be available everywhere e-books are sold.
Click on the cover to read more!

Exciting news! Prodigal and Riven will be available in 2 special combined print editions!


Barnes & Noble and other retailers will feature a standard combined print edition:


Ebook_COMBINED_TheLostImperials


Amazon.com will offer an exclusive flip book print edition!


flipbookcover

PRODIGAL:
STEIN has been with the Hollows for as long as she can remember. Taken as a child, she has no memories of her past, and that's always been fine by her. Until the day she stumbles across a hidden journal containing the devastating truth about her paternity. Now everything she thought she knew, and everyone she thought she could trust, has changed. The truth about who she is and where she came from is a secret so deep, it will rock the Hollows and the Tesla Institute alike.


RIVEN:
ETHAN is left with a serious problem after what should have been a routine mission. He's fractured, a break between mind and body that leaves him at the mercy of his Rifter abilities, which are quickly tearing him apart. He will have to trust the only person who might know how to fix him, a mysterious Rifter named Stewart Stills, who seems to have a special connection with the time stream.


Want to know more about The Lost Imperials Series? Check out below:

In a battle for control of the time stream, the past and the future will collide, either saving mankind, or destroying it.

The Tesla Institute stands on one side of the battle. Controlled by the mind of one of the greatest inventors in history, the Institute recruits gifted, young time travelers called Rifters. Those who survive his training are sent into history with the mission to preserve the time stream, recruit more of their kind, and better humanity through subtle, controlled event manipulation.

Standing in the way are the Hollows, a rogue group of Rifters who have vowed to put an end to the Tesla Institute, at all costs. They steal, cheat, and bend history to their own ends. Using children stolen from time as their personal armies, they fight not only for control of time itself, but also for self-preservation.


You can find, EXTRACTED, book 1 of The Lost Imperials everywhere books are sold.

Lex front

THOUGHTS:

This is actually a really cool series from the looks of it. It is written by the author of Queen of Someday, Sherry D. Ficklin, in a joint effort with Tyler H. Jolley.  P.E. was a big fan of Queen of Someday (review here

I like the covers. They do give a time machine vibe but Prodigal also looks a lot a little steampunk. It isn't (steampunk) but I like the similarities. 

As for the book trailer, I like it. It's simple, to the point, but is also filled with custom features that coincide with the book and it's design. My favourite bit is the beginning of the soundtrack. I like the female singer's voice.

-MARI

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