Cover Wars: Before & After vs. Their Fractured Light

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.

Hey guys, it's P.E.! I'm doing this week's edition, and the cover I've picked to go against Their Fractured Light is super gorgeous. If you've followed us for a while, you'll note that I'm someone that loves high contrast, minimalist or art deco-type designs. I'm really happy that both covers this week feature very clever, intense bursts of colour. 

Aren't the colours lovely? Their Fractured Light has this ultraviolet, or should I say, radioactive, vibe going on with the iridescent purple while Before & After is a gorgeous piece of art that goes really well with the simple title font. Both of these covers are near perfection, which should make this week's battle realllly tough. 

Which cover should win Cover Wars?


What do you think?

Review: Between the Spark and the Burn

Freddie once told me that the Devil created all the fear in the world.

But then, the Devil once told me that it's easier to forgive someone for scaring you than for making you cry.

The problem with River West Redding was that he'd done both to me.

The crooked-smiling liar River West Redding, who drove into Violet's life one summer day and shook her world to pieces, is gone. Violet and Neely, River's other brother, are left to worry—until they catch a two a.m. radio program about strange events in a distant mountain town. They take off in search of River but are always a step behind, finding instead frenzied towns, witch hunts, and a wind-whipped island with the thrum of something strange and dangerous just under the surface. It isn't long before Violet begins to wonder if Neely, the one Redding brother she thought trustworthy, has been hiding a secret of his own . . .

My Review

Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Pages: 320
Publication Date: April 14 2014
Source: Library ecopy

You know that line about ending with a bang rather than a whimper? This was a whimper.

I suppose that's an extremely harsh way to start a review, but I'm extremely disappointed in Between the Spark and the Burn. I was excited for this one. I really was. I loved Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, and to be honest, I didn't think it needed a sequel, so the fact that it got one was randomly delightful. And yet, the best qualities of the first did not shine through in Spark and Burn.

The real problem is that the plot was absolutely terrible. Violet is reckless, and she's driving her family into more danger too. There is some sort of weird subplot about her grandmother that seriously adds nothing to the story. I was so sure a big secret was going to be revealed, and it wasn't. It didn't even add to the poetry of the story because it was so incredibly irrelevant to the storyline. Violet embarks on a roadtrip with Neely and Luke and Sunshine, and this trip, although with the potential to be exciting, is the opposite. It takes very little time to find River, and once they found River, I couldn't help but wish he were lost.

I think that could have been even more romantic; never finding River. Imagine an endless search, and Violet's constant yearning for him, only to know that River is lost to her forever. The years would pass, and maybe they'd see each other once and wonder about the life they could have lived together. Or maybe Violet would one day read about River's death, and it would be terribly heartbreaking and sad because the "what ifs" would overwhelm her. I'm mourning these potential futures because what actually occurred disappoints me, so much. River has lost control, and the author never really cares to explain why, and she never really cares to focus much on River ever getting better, or giving his storyline any kind of conclusion. And the plotline has no ending.

Okay, there is an ending, but it's so weak that I am still somewhat convinced that something was wrong with my ebook because there has to be more than that. There is no real plot, the book focuses on finding River, and then random stuff happen, and somehow there is an ending in the middle of that. Whyyyyyyyyy.

I'm sad because Tucholke's writing is so freakin' evocative. It weaves emotions into the prose and despite the meagre plot, it's still gorgeous, still haunting, still spellbinding. And I am so sad that it lacks actual substance.

I wish there was less of a focus on Frankie. I wish there was more of a focus on Luke and Sunshine, and Violet's relationship with them. I wish Violet made even the slightest bit more sense, and I wish Neely's storyline got more time. I wish there was more of a story.



What do you think?

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

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.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

My Review

Author: Sarah J. Maas
Date of Publication: May 5, 2015
Pages: 416
Source: Library

Despite my previous blog being The Book Faerie, I've never been a fan of YA faeries. Until now; until Sarah J. Maas.

I think Maas brings to faerie stories what not many other do; she creates her own mythology or builds on previous ones in a way that sets her story apart. Many books assume that everyone knows about the 'general faerie mythology' like the Unseelie and Seelie courts. I don't, not really, and so I can be easily put off by books like The Iron King by Julie Kagawa which everyone, but I, liked.

Beyond being a book about faeries, ACOTAR is also a retelling of beauty and the beast. Maas took an interesting path with the old tale and spun it to encompass a magical world filled with warring species of humans, fae and a not-so-beastly Tamlin.

Tamlin is not your conventional beast. Sure he has claws and a beast form, but his curse isn't one of such an obvious nature. No, Tamlin was charming to say the least. His and Feyre's gradual friendship or rather courtship was very sweet to read about. My only struggle with Tamlin was that he didn't give away much about himself which makes it harder for me know and understand him.

On the other hand, Feyre was an open book, which probably has a lot to do with her being the narrator... Seriously though, I adored her. She was a strong girl who had to grow up fast in order to take care of her family. But inside, she was still just a girl who wanted enough food and some paint.

The first half of the book was slow winding but enjoyable as we watched Feyre explore the fae world and come to know Tamlin better. However, what blew this book away for me was the second portion which I literally read in one night. One word: Rhys.

Everything up to then was good and interesting but Rhys, he brought something completely different to the table. Otherwise known as Amarantha's whore, Rhys was dark, handsome and cunning. He played the games that faeries are credited with and he played them well. It felt like in the first half I'd been under a glamour and Rhys turned it off. I also like to think of him as the unlikely hero who needs to be given more credit.

Overall, ACOTAR is definitely one of Sarah J. Maas' better books which is saying something as I've enjoyed all of her books. What I am noticing, however, is that she manages to visibly grow as a writer in each book. So while I may have had minimal to zero issues with her previous works, she still manages to increase the quality of her stories and I'm impatient to see how amazing her future works prove to be.



What do you think?

Review: Fragments

Author Dan Wells is back with the sequel to the sci-fi blockbuster Partials, which Pittacus Lore called a "thrilling sci-fi adrenaline rush, with one of the most compelling and frightening visions of Earth's future I've seen yet."

After discovering the cure for RM, Kira Walker sets off on a terrifying journey into the ruins of postapocalyptic America and the darkest desires of her heart in order to uncover the means—and a reason—for humanity's survival.

Dan Wells extends his richly imagined, gritty world and introduces new memorable characters in this second installment in the Partials Sequence.

My Review

Author: Dan Wells
Publication Date: February 26 2013
Pages: 576
Source: Library

Dan Wells' writing style, something I didn't have too much of a problem with in Partials, irritated me in Fragments. It is needlessly long because it is full of unnecessary explanations. 

Let's say that Kira, the main character, is alone in the strange hallway of a desecrated building. She is about to walk into the room. The reader knows Kira has not been here before and she is on a hunt. The reader knows that either the room will have what Kira wants, or not. The reader knows the consequences of both. The reader knows the importance of finding this thing, and the reader should have some sense of how likely it is that this thing will be in this room. This is all especially true if this is the main plot of Kira's story thus far. 

Dan Wells wrote every single one of these things, and it really burdened his writing because so much of this was completely unnecessary. An author should trust the reader to keep up, to some extent. Some mentioning of the stakes are valuable, but it should be more subtle, because I felt like I was being bludgeoned by the "obvious hammer" with paragraphs of explanations that added nothing to the story. Maybe, there would be a simple line of character development through that, but I felt what was really weird was that Wells would later write about the characters being in emotional distress, and I would suppose that this is the moment where he should overexplain and talk about the characters' feelings and maybe write about how they were feeling, and instead we get a simple line of "Kira was sobbing" or something, and the story would end. 

This writing style made so little sense to me because I cared about why Kira felt the need to sob, and whether she was a heavy crier, and I already knew just how imperative it was to find whatever she was looking for. The argument against sci-fi books are that they are too inaccessible, and it's hard to keep up with the storyline. Maybe Wells was trying to make his book easier to understand, but what he did detracted from his fascinating world building and story because it was the equivalent of what they tell us to do in business class presentations: say you're going to say something, say it, and then say what you said. It's the holding your hand approach to writing, and maybe that works for some readers, but it was too much for me. 

The plot is attractive. And yet the book is almost 600 pages. Almost 600 pages, and very little happens because of this convoluted writing style. I have nothing against the length of a book because I usually love it. The author can offer a more complete story, but I think Fragments was unnecessarily wordy, and that was frustrating.

Perhaps Fragments also suffers from middle book syndrome in the sense that it's all building up to one reveal, and reveal is pretty cool, but the journey there is not that interesting. Still, the ending does set up the next book nicely, and I will still read the sequel. 

Another interesting aspect were the morality questions. I liked that Dan Wells challenged the reader and his characters to make tough decisions. While reading Fragments, I was firmly on the side of Team Human, but I remember seriously pondering the lines I would cross and wouldn't cross for humanity. It's quite obvious that Dan Wells is a smart dude who likes to include big questions in his writing, and his writing is full of good ideas. I just generally felt like the style of Fragments was too much of a drag. It's tough to balance the line between storytelling and explanation, and I didn't have any problem with Partials, so I'm hoping Ruins works for me. 



What do you think?

College Us Looking Back at Eleventh Grade Us' Bios

So the other day, Mari was talking about updating the About Us section for this blog. And I went to take a look at it, and I was going to delete what I wrote and write something new when I realized that I didn't want to get rid of it. The bio, although inaccurate now, show a snapshot of eleventh grade me, and I don't want to forget her. I think she's quite cute and has grown a lot. Instead, I've decided to preserve my previous writing, (because we really need to update our bios), we could kind of do some sort of post look at how we've grown, and making fun of all the ridiculous things we wrote. So, here it is! The original post follows this paragraph. Comments by me are in this weird teal colour, and Mari's are in magenta. Enjoy!


I'm a teen from Canada and I've always been a big reader. When I started reviewing a few years ago, I realized right away how much I loved it. I'm one of those people with millions of ideas and things to say so I found blogging an amazing medium to interact with like-minded people. Oh hey, this isn't terrible yet. Although I'm arguably no longer a teen (what the hell is an 18 year old?). Plus, where did those millions of ideas go? Ahh, the optimism. 

Beyond books and blogging, I'm a huge hockey fan. I enjoy watching games and as my twitter followers can attest, I can be pretty passionate about it, especially when it comes to the Sens. Some things don't change. 

Like every teen nowadays, I have a few TV shows I watch religiously. The Vampire Diaries and The Games of Thrones are my current favourites. I tend to enjoy dramatic stories with fascinating characters. I also like Supernatural, Veronica Mars, and Heroes. I dropped TVD because the storyline became terrible (I hated everything about the Silas storyline, and from what I've heard recently, I'm not missing much. I still watch Game of Thrones. I watch Supernatural in bursts, and I still fangirl about it as much as I did. I even converted Mari! I like Veronica Mars, but I don't watch it anymore. I stopped watching Heroes, and my tv list now includes How To Get Away With Murder, Orphan Black, and Suits. 

When it comes to music, my tastes are constantly evolving. As of this moment I listen to a lot of house/electronic type music. I like beats, strange melodies, and how everything blends together to create and dispel tension. Some current favourites include Fedde le Grand's remix of Paradise by Coldplay, and Swedish House Mafia. My music tastes have become less electronic and more obsessive. I will listen to only one song for weeks. Then I won't listen to new music for a while. I've gotten tired of the drops of EDM and house, and build ups don't affect me like they once did. 

Looking at all my interests, it's clear to me that I enjoy drama. This extends to books; I tend to enjoy stories with a lot at stake. Oooh, totally true. 

I'm very excited to start blogging with Mari because we both have such different styles. I hope you enjoy The Sirenic Codex and thanks for visiting! Now this is a timeless statement. 

I think I haven't changed too much from grade eleven me, except for internally. I have tried to really work on my frame of mind to be more positive towards myself and control the side of me that is a perfectionist. I'm trying to realize that I do a lot of stuff well, and even if I'm not living up to my harsh expectations, I'm not screwing up. This is especially important in writing because I'm becoming more comfortable in simply stating my opinion.


An avid reader and a teen from Canada. I was first introduced to reading by my mother for which I will be forever grateful. I have been a part of the book blogging community for the past few years and have come to adore it. Book are my passion and talking about them is my favourite subject, as most of my friends can attest. Yes, they can.

Outside of reading, I'm a web surfer. History is among my favourite subjects at school and I can be found searching on anything from China's Terracotta Army to Sparta and the 300, or watching a historical movie/BBC short series. I recommend North and South! I love how focused I was about emphasizing my love for history. This is a time where I thought about history seriously enough that I applied for a Politics + History double major as one of my degree options. Looking back, I don't regret not choosing it as my degree but I appreciate the passion I had and still have for the subject which led me to using it as one of my interests. 

Standing with the Canadian stereotype, hockey is among one of the things I love most in life. Specifically, the Pittsburgh Penguins much to P.E.'s despair. Lately, the Penguins have been performing to my despair...

I have a broad horizon for visual entertainment, and will watch anything from Hollywood to Bollywood and the occasional anime and Asian dramas. But to be more specific, I watch Vampire Diaries, Revenge, Game of Thrones, and Arrow somewhat ritualistically. Now getting to the serious stuff: I no longer watch any of those shows with the exception of Game of Thrones. No ma'am, the real signs of my growth since the 11th grade till now when I'm going into 2nd year uni is my updated tv list: Game of Thrones, Orphan Black, Suits, Supernatural and Criminals Mind. 

Thank you so much for dropping by The Sirenic Codex. P.E. and I are excited to get started on this new adventure and we hope that you will come along as well. Two years and going strong!

I would agree with P.E., we haven't changed too much as people but we've definitely grown and learned much more about ourselves and our surroundings. We still twitter fight each other over politics and pretty much everything else. P.E.'s taste in articles has grown from long to never ending and my attention span of a pea has shrunk to size of a grain of sand, but otherwise all is well on The Sirenic Codex!

Thank you to all our followers for being with us these past 2 years. Some have been along for the entire ride and others have jumped on along the way. You are all amazing and have made us smile many times over with your sweet comments. We gobble them all up.

-MARI + P.E.


What do you think?

Cover Wars: The Imposter Queen vs. Their Fractured Light

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.

And Their Fractures Light came out on top, just like its predecessors. This week it's facing The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine.

Two very different covers. One is bright, romantic and interstellar while the other is more sobering. My favourite thing about The Imposter Queen is the title typography and style. The font is beautiful and the position is very well done as well. The imposing white over red works and the resulting contrast really make the cover for me.

Another week, another two stunning covers. Don't forget to vote!


What do you think?

Ruin and Rising Was Not What I Wanted (Spoilers!)

Warning: this post contains spoilers for the Grisha trilogy, including the ending of Ruin and Rising. Read at your own peril.

I wanted Alina to be queen. 

I suppose I planned to write a review after I finished the last of Leigh Bardugo's trilogy. I was so excited to read Ruin and Rising because there is a certain addictive quality to Bardugo's work. Something in the magic and the themes of her writing are so appealing to me. But I was disappointed.  I can't write a review either, because my disappointment is in the story, and to explain it, I have to spoil what happens. 

I wanted Alina to be queen, and she didn't. Instead, she is set to live out the rest of her life peacefully with Mal, without magic. Even if we disregard my historic disparagement of Mal, I'm more sad for Alina and I'm mourning the story I wanted her to have. I understand this is ridiculous and it's hard for me to review a book like Ruin and Rising because my sadness centres around the plot, and not because the plot is all that weak (I would say it was) but because it is not what I wanted. 

It feels like an invalid complaint, but I will try to make it slightly more valid in explaining why I loved this trilogy and why I'm disappointed. 

The Grisha trilogy explored corruption and power. Now, I love reading about power. I study it and question it and philosophize over it. It's just one of my interests (and maybe some people that have read Ruin and Rising realize, precisely at this point, why I'm not happy with the ending). 

My interpretation of the Grisha trilogy came from the basis that the story was about power and its effects. The Darkling had unmatched power and it had corrupted him. He was alone, and hungry for more. He sought the companionship of Alina, when she, in a different exploration of power, came to gain immense power suddenly. 

Alina's storyline explored what this sudden influx of power to someone who had previously felt extremely ordinary meant. Alina was scared of her power, scared of being different, but eventually, she started to relish her power. This was something she always repressed. Alina was scared of becoming the Darkling and as she amassed more of the amplifiers and felt a burning desire to complete the cycle and get the third amplifier, through the death of the Firebird. 

This was the most compelling conflict of the Grisha trilogy. Could Alina, the innocent, pure heroine one day become the Darkling? Could she fight the corruption of power? Did she even truly want to? This was accentuated with Bardugo's own descriptions of the Darkling, an infinite being that Alina always saw as a sad, beautiful boy. The Darkling was written sympathetically, and his connection with Alina was dynamic.

Think Harry and Voldemort, except what if Harry has to make his own horcruxes too? 

Alina was on her way there. During the last battle, she took her knife and stabbed Mal, who was revealed to be the last amplifier. She killed her love, and there was a fair bit of tragedy. I wondered what would happen to her; how would this shape her? 

Alina would have made a great queen. She was commanding, and resolute. This seemed to be what the entire series was building up to. Other characters constantly obeyed her because of this seeming inevitability, and Alina was a major player. She wanted to get rid of the fold. She wanted to stop the Darkling. She was reluctant to be queen, but that was probably because of her fear for what power would do to her. She killed Mal, and it seemed like something extremely fascinating would happen next, because Baghra always said that the kind of power Alina was drawing on had a cost. 

Except, in this case, it was a cost Alina would likely have been extremely willing to pay because this cost, the loss of her powers, was a relief. Alina did not have to ever worry about powerlust again because her power was gone. She would never have to make hard decisions because she would never again be in such a position. Alina would be normal, and live a peaceful life without too much responsibility. 

I never learned if Alina could become like the Darkling and she never learned what to do with immense power because the 'sacrifice' was that her power was gone, and she didn't have to deal with any of this conflict. This storyline was effectively killed through a sacrifice that made it so that Alina could get what she wanted-- Mal-- and live happily ever after, except that she missed her power. 

And what of the repercussions of enjoying immense power and having it ripped away? Alina seems to spend her life missing the sun, and being sad she can't summon any more, but that's all it is; a lingering sadness. Alina, without her power, decides to leave politics, and leaves any sort of power she could have ever had with Nikolai, or as a public figure within the court, and goes off to live remotely with Mal, deciding she does not want to actively shape the world and instead trusting it to Nikolai and her Grisha friends. 

There's nothing wrong with any of this, except for the way-too-convenient way that Mal and Alina end up together, because she stabbed him and he should have died, and the explanation seems weak. I'm just a little sad I never saw Alina grow into the person she was becoming; strong, fierce, ruthless. 

There were other problems I had with Ruin and Rising, and I still loved some parts of it. But this broken storyline is what remains in my head. Especially because Alina's story is very common. Alina isn't the first or last heroine to reject power. I'm just incredibly disappointed that this is the resolution. 

Now, I swear, if Celaena does the same thing *curses indescribably* Please Ms. Maas...



What do you think?

18 and in-between

I wonder if I'm ageist.

It's quite possible I am, because I have absolutely no interest in books featuring characters too far in age or circumstance unrelated to my own. My friends at university will talk about a brilliant story about a lady that does blah blah blah and all I can think is that I really don't care.

Maybe I'm some kind of hybrid live-in-the-moment type, because for as far as I can remember, I read books about people in my age range. I always read a little higher, because the arrogant 'mature' asshole that I am, but not too far. So far, it has worked for me. I read about middle school while in elementary school, high school while in middle school, and yet this chain broke when it came to college because I struggled to find any book about the college experience that contained the same enchantment of YA.

This could explain my recent obsession with fantasy. In fantasy worlds, people are my age, and yet they do not live in my system. I don't need to read about high school, a period of my life that I actually enjoyed, but that I'm over. I don't know how to find books about college that are about magic and fun and saving the world, not about sex and romance.

I suppose the latter are important parts of this age, but I would like to see that they exist along with a whole new variety of books.

Maybe these books exist, and I don't know about them. I would like that to be true.

College has been an experience that, for the most part, I have lived rather than read about. It is awesome and scary, and yet the personal growth college demands has been so extraordinary and above anything else. It also means that to read about college, beyond some Gossip Girl type stories of debauchery (which I have nothing against, btw), I have to brave the adult section.

Fun fact: I have never braved the adult section. I've walked into the adult section and picked up a book I heard about in the YA world, but I've never actually looked at adult books and felt like I belong.

It's weird, this concept of an adult section. There are picture books, and MG, and YA, and all of these ideally cover less than a decade of life with the stories about these age ranges, or the themes prevalent in them. And then there's the adult section, which covers everyone else.

That is terrifying. It is utterly terrifying. How am I supposed to know where to look for the books I want to read?

This could plausibly call for an emergency phone call to Mari. Credit to acklesdean from Tumblr!

The teen section at my library is about three or four large bookcases. It is one of the better selection of books in the city, and I love it. And the adult section is probably larger than ten times this amount of books, and it is so incredibly daunting for someone simply trying to read more fantasies and urban stuff about people in their late teens or early twenties.

It's probably part of the reconciliation process of growing up to realize that there are people that will inevitably begin to have children and that's an important part of their lives, but as it stands, I can't imagine reading a book about having a child. I know those books exist in YA too, and I have avoided them. I also can't imagine reading about marriage as the major plot, because I'm jaded, and because that, again, feels so far away.

It was at this moment, staring at the shelves upon shelves of books designated for adults that I realized how much I need new adult. And by that, I mean that I need new adult to be about new adults. I want fantasies with new adults (Oh my god, thank you Sarah J. Maas), and I want paranormals. I want us to go to space. I want to read about internships, and oh my god a magical university, can you imagine it?

This is not me leaving YA. I am as addicted as ever to stories of magic and intrigue, and I still read about older teens. Like, I'm 18. I'm not a dinosaur.

I'm just enchanted with the excitement of being 18, and knowing that anything can happen, and getting a real taste of independence, and the fear and excitement all this brings. I think the sense of possibility, of coming into your own when you are 18, of the world expanding and contracting depending on your mood that day, when you realize your decisions have consequences, and you start to realize that you can actually make it, when you stop dreaming about who you will be and start deciding who you are, well, the romantic in me loves this.

I want these stories, and I don't know how to find them. Please help me and recommend books you recommend for eighteen year olds, or about college-aged people.




What do you think?

Review: Exquisite Captive

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

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

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

Inspired by Arabian Nights, EXQUISITE CAPTIVE brings to life a deliciously seductive world where a wish can be a curse and shadows are sometimes safer than the light.

My Review

Author: Heather Demetrios
Pages: 480
Publisher: October 7 2014
Source: Library ebook

Can this please be the future of fantasy? Like, can we have more books that integrate different cultures seamlessly into the writing? I was so excited to read a book that had little bits of Arabic integrated into it. I can't say if the Arabic was right, seeing as I am not Arabic, but guys, it feels so cool to have a book that mentioned Arabic people. Like, they exist! And visualizing POC felt so much fun. I really want to give this to some of my Arabic friends and ask them what they think.

I really liked Exquisite Captive. The main character is the last of her kind, a Ghan Aisouri (forgive the spelling, I returned the ebook), and to be very honest, her kind was not the best. She is a jinni that can control all four elements while other castes of jinn control just one. Her kind ruled the world of Arjinna quite cruelly, until the Revolution, where every one of Nalia's sisters were slaughtered, and she somehow managed to escape. The specifics of how this occurred are still foggy in my mind, but I'm curious to read more.

Right here, I have to mention that Exquisite Captive did something I really like. It started a bit further into Nalia's story so we don't read about before the Revolution except in flashbacks. Thus, the story starts with Nalia having some baggage, and the action can begin right away. In general, there isn't that much action nor fighting until the end, and hopefully this gives us some hope for the future. I think we'll get back to Nalia reclaiming her identity later. The biggest theme I took away from Exquisite Captive centred around slavery.

I haven't read a book that dealt with slavery since The Color of Rain, and Exquisite Captive is far lighter than that. Nalia is a slave to Malek, this weirdly rich, influential human. He's abusive, and has tortured Nalia. She hates him, and I hated him too. There is something a little bit wrong about Malek, and I loved reading about Nalia's fire. She refused to give in to him. She was constantly fighting for her space, and I loved that. There is a certain plotline that I think some people will not like, but I thought it was explored decently. To be honest, I don't like it very much when I think about it because I think it could have been avoided, or at least there could have been more justification for why this was the absolute last resort, and the fact that there wasn't is a little icky. I couldn't take the storyline too seriously because I always believed there would be another way.

It's weird but I think I just generally ignored a lot of the criteria I search for in books because I liked Nalia, I loved reading about the jinni, and I liked the hints of Arabic in the story. (There is not that much Arabic, but it says a lot about YA that even a few lines of Arabic is enough to excite me.) Nalia was fierce, and burdened in a lot of ways. There were her physical shackles tying her to Malek, but she was also burdened by the legacy as a Ghan Aisouri, and in a different sense, burdened by her love for her brother. I liked the recurring question of wondering who Nalia would be if she were ever free, because there was certainly a darkness to her, but a part of her strongly resists that. It's hard to know who Nalia is going to be, and I think this is a central conflict for her character.

I oddly loved Raif too. I mean, green eyes! Leader of revolution! Loves his sister! Raif is a bit of an asshole and he's a confused one, but I liked the way he and Nalia went head to head. I don't like how fast Nalia and Raif's relationship progressed, and I hope there will be more development for them because as it is, it's not enough for me. But I still liked Raif.

The plot was a little slow, except for the end. There was still enough excitement, creativity, and suspense that I enjoyed the story all throughout. What's weird about Exquisite Captive is that it is a very readable book, but once I left its fog, it's a little less shiny.

I'm excited for the sequel, Blood Passage because I'm curious to see what kind of story this is. I don't know if it will be fantasy-lite with the romance taking the lead, or if it will be extremely character driven, or if it will be an epic fantasy. What's interesting about Exquisite Captive is that it bends genres because of the two different settings it has, Earth and Arjinna, and the way it is written. I hope the story is large and epic, but it could go anywhere, It seems to be a trilogy at this point (cue Mari face-palming), but who really knows?



What do you think?

In Protest Of The Trilogy Rule

After devouring one trilogy after another over the years, I've come to this climax in my YA reading career where I no longer feel driven to read and complete trilogies. No matter the story and how different it is from others I've read, I still experience a strong lull between 3 book series.

I feel like trilogies are a type of pizza: Hawaiian, barbecue chicken, cheese, pepperoni; and I've had them everyday for the past several years to the point where after downing the first slice I can't look at another.

I'm going to say it once:


I want to read more about a world I love but the number 3 is like the freaking 666 of the YA literature.


Remember last year when all the New Adult books consisted of the same plot aka: girl and boy with rough past meet and lick each others wounds but don't want attachments? I read one, then another and by the third I couldn't even get past the synopsis. Same story.

Why are we subjecting ourselves to the same formula? What about YA readers is so standard that publishers and authors feel the best type of stories for us come in 3 parts?

It's such a boring:
  1. Beginning 
  2. Middle 
  3. End 
that it's killing me. Seriously.

I'm saying all this as a person who's read mainly trilogies, but how many of them have I finished? So how effective is the ploy besides leaching money off readers? The formula gets old. It's time to break the mold, show us some great big standalones and some nice duologies. The number 3 shouldn't be our standard. There should be no standard. Each story is unique and its size should be too.




What do you think?

WoW: A Million Miles Away

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

A Million Miles Away

July 7, 2015

Perfect for fans of Nicholas Sparks, this breathtaking story of love and loss is guaranteed to break your heart and sweep you off your feet.

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.

I just saw this on netgalley and wow. I have always been a fan of books featuring military personnel but what really got me was the emotions the synopsis got out of me. I haven't read anything yet, but I want to, now.

 What are You Waiting For?



What do you think?

Cover Wars: Their Fractured Light vs. A School for Unusual Girls

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

A School for Unusual Girls has been doing quite well. This weeks competitor, Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meghan Spooner, is the sequel to 2 very popular Cover Wars cover. I foresee a tough fight ahead.

At this point, we all saw this one coming. These Broken Stars and This Shattered World were both serious Cover Wars contenders in the past years and I doubt Their Fractured Light will end that tradition. Can I just say- this cover is ultraviolet! I think I love it. The colours used are not often seen on YA covers. The dress is also not the conventional type. A School for Unusual Girls has the beautiful classical dress down, though.

Another week, another two stunning covers. Don't forget to vote!


What do you think?

Top Ten Books On My TBR For Summer 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by the amazing people over at The Broke and the Bookish.

Well, this was easy. I've been missing out on a lot of good books and this summer I hope to get to all of them. I did only list 8 just because I couldn't remember them all and I don't want to freak myself out too much as I am quite busy watching supernatural... (and work and school).. These all look and sound amazing and I can't wait to devour them.




What do you think?

Review: Snow Like Ashes

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.
Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.
Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.
So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

My Review

Author: Sara Raasch
Publication Date: October 14 2014
Pages: 416
Source: Library ebook

This was one of those books I planned to read without ever actually reading the synopsis. I went into the story completely oblivious to the premise, and I have to say that in general, I was pretty happy with Snow Like Ashes.

I feel a little like my mood is a bit unfair because I just DNFed the last book I was reading, and I haven't felt great while reading Snow Like Ashes. I think I would normally be a little more enthusiastic, but I had a weird reading experience in which I was pretty tired. So what happened is that there is a lot I really like about Snow Like Ashes, but I still feel like the story lacked a little, um, completeness?

I felt like the story, although pretty good, was hurt by the fact that I guessed major plot twists from um, the first chapter of the story (this is not an exaggeration). I don't know if it was that obvious, but I've been on a really big fantasy kick and I read a lot in general. I've gotten better at noticing what authors are writing and how they are writing it, and thinking about the clues. I'm pretty happy that what I wanted to happen occurred, but the ending left me with a lot of uncertainty about the rest of the series.

I feel, through my moody reader eyes, that Snow Like Ashes jumped around a lot, and it felt like a really short read. I think it had a lot of dialogue compared to major, conclusive plotlines, and while I did enjoy this dialogue (this book is endearingly quotable), I felt, by the end, like not much had happened. But I guess that could be because the major journey made by Meira had an endgame that my weird brain was expecting.

Anyway, I really liked this book. I loved the characters. The writing was really phenomenal at introducing Meira and I loved that it was written in Mara's voice. The writing was snarky and fierce, like Meira. I loved reading Meira's thoughts on every situation as little asides, and sometimes I feel like this sort of writing can distract from the actual story. In this case, it complemented what was happening. There were also some very lovely passages that I remember wanting to write down because they were so gorgeously poetic. So yay!

The other characters were not as featured as Meira, but they were also compelling. I mean, I am surprised at just how easily I liked character that was introduced. This, if you read Snow Like Ashes, presents a complication near the end of the story. I am confused. But, I am quite happy. All the characters have extremely attractive qualities. I think the most fascinating parts was the real thought put into this story. Duty was a concept thoroughly explored, along with the sacrifices that it demands. Meira would do anything for Winter, but even in saying that, how much is she expected to give? Is that not unfair?

In  a pretty fun poli-sci angle, I thought the nationalism and politics of the world building were quite fun. The Seasons and the Rhythms (four kingdoms of each in Raasch's world) have years of prejudice built against each other. Meira and the Winterian refugees are quite patriotic, and there is an implied connection to the Winter people and the Winter land. They are a minority that is being hunted down and completely destroyed by Spring, who is Very Evil. Every kingdom has its own characteristics and strengths, and I thought it was fun to read about their different national identities and flags.

One thing I would like to see more of is some complexity. The evil villain, Angra, King of Spring, is overwhelming terrible. I understand he is power hungry, but a lot of what he does is so evil that I can't make any sense of it at all. I think there needs to be some more development about his motivations.

Overall, there is lot of good in Snow Like Ashes. Great characters, a fascinating world, and the thought put into the story. There are some weaknesses, like the overwhelmingly evil villain. And there are some maybes, like I'm not sure where the plot is heading. In any case, I'm excited to read Ice like Fire, and I think Snow Like Ashes is unique and fun.


What do you think?

The Struggles of a Modern Day Bookish Friend (Part 2)

I love being a nerd. Being a nerd is about having the passion to truly care for something. This sounds like nothing, but it's a lot harder than it seems. People will disparage what you love, and sometimes for good reason. I think it's easier not to care, and I've definitely been there.

But I can't stay for long, because I love what I love. I love it deeply, and maybe in a different way than others because I rarely reveal just how much I love something. But I think I'm loyal to what I love (and in general, I'm stubborn as hell) and sometimes I almost want to hide it from other people because I don't want their influence on it. But eventually, I will share it, and with certain people. 

Mari is one of those people. She's my co-blogger, which means that we're sharing one of the previously most sacred things to me: a blog. Books. My first blog was established in secrecy because I was obsessed with this being something I built up on my own, based entirely upon my own merit. This blog, however, is meant to reflect me and my personality, and is almost a symbol of our friendship. We share this, and it's our baby.
I love this blog like Dean loves his impala. (It's my baby!)

I want to share what I love, and Mari is one of my favourite people for that. I send her so much content and I don't expect her to love all of it (although it wouldn't have killed her to read that Atlantic article about Vladimir Putin!). 

It's just that there's this incredible joy when you find something to love, and it's almost a surprise because everything in the universe had to align just so before you could find that thing that brings joy. I'm always surprised when I find something I love because it's so random. It gives this lovely sunshine-ish feeling and I end up humming songs like "I'm Walking on Sunshine" and maybe skipping and smiling randomly when I remember something I particularly loved, and it's such a great feeling that is under-appreciated because it's so random. It's hard to know when something will click in a certain way like that so when it does, it feels precious. It feels like something I want to protect. 

It's also fragile. I know things had to align for a certain way for me to love something, so I'm so careful about the way I treat it. I like to keep it mostly close to me. But sometimes, I can't help it. I think something all bloggers have in common is our desire to share our passions. I want to do it as honestly as I can, and sometimes I don't want to because I don't want to explain myself. I just want to love what I love. But the next level of being a fan is fandom. 

Fandom terrifies me because it goes against that keeping cards close mentality I can sometimes have. I don't think I'll ever be comfortable enough to engage fully in fandom, especially of the Tumblr variety (although I will follow the blogs and I think the gifmakers are amazing and wish I could credit them more), so I'm just happy if I can have someone I talk to who understands my intense love for something. 

Mari, look at this! Love it like I do!

I want Mari to love what I love. She has a harder time finishing books than I do, so I always feel like helping her find her next love. I want her to read what I read and genuinely love it. I know she's scared of disappointing me by not loving it. Well, I don't want her to feel that way. I don't want her to feel bad about not loving what I love, which is only natural when it comes to human beings. That being said, every time I try to get her to watch something, it is something I truly love. 

It's a little bit like putting myself out there. I declare that this thing is something I love, and I hope my friend likes it too. I want to share something else with someone I trust, and fangirling is so much more fun when someone else can participate. Concurrently, I don't want her to feel obliged to enjoy something just like I did. 

I want her to find the same joy I have with something in the world, and I guess the difficult part of this is that regardless of how much love I have for something, sometimes she won't reciprocate. And that's something I live with. By no means is it a major burden, but I think it's just such a sweet part of friendship; to share what one loves.



What do you think?

The Struggles of a Modern Day Bookish Friend

Confession: I'm a severely moody reader. So moody that I can't read for days in a row because I'm kicking every book I start to the curb after reading an uninteresting first paragraph.

As such, I am so grateful but also really cautious of book recommendations. It was book recommendations that found Vampire Academy, Outlander, The Bronze Horseman and so many other books I've loved over the years. But I think it's something even more nerve-racking about having someone you're close with recommend a book that they have adored and obviously wish to share that with you.
How we hang at TSC!

P.E. is that someone for me. I value her opinions and adore the fact that she is a reading machine who I use to my advantage when checking the quality of a book to determine if it's worth reading. At the same time, P.E. and I are very different in reading styles. We've definitely had books we loved equally, but beside the hyped mainstream books I'm more of a romance and history lover, while P.E. like mystery and paranormal stories.

It's quite horrifying to go into a book that is even more hyped up in my head because I know a person in real life and I know she is waiting and will ask my opinion about said book; while holding a knife to my throat.

As a reader this is essentially exactly what I've wanted all my life; someone to share my otherworldly book experiences with. It's why I nagged and begged and pleaded to try to coax my brother into reading with no avail. However, it seems now that I've finally found a person who I can share that with, the stakes are too high. I don't want to disappoint or be disappointed.

I'll try to keep my pants on as I run...

It's a struggle. Sometimes I overthink things a little too much. But then so do YA heroines.

Conclusion: I'm a YA heroine. Read Mari is Terrified of P.E.'s Recommendations coming out Fall of 2054.

P.S. I do still want recommendations, please give me all of them. Just sorry if I end up squealing and running away from a phantom you holding a knife made of pages from the book you recommended.

Couldn't find a knife GIF.. I always thought spatula's were more dangerous anyways. 



What do you think?

Cover Wars: Mirrored vs. A School for Unusual Girls

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.

Another week of Cover Wars is back. This time it's Alex Flinn's first feature with her upcoming book Mirrored versing our reigning champ, A School for Unusual Girls.

I love the colours that Mirrored features on its cover. The gorgeous ginger hair is nicely contrasted against the blue and misty creek in the background. My favourite, and more of an inconspicuous addition to the cover, is the apple on a vine that is nicely interwoven with the title.

Both covers are exceptional, but it's up to you guys to vote for your favourite!


What do you think?

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases 2015


Despite having pinned for them all year, I've only read ACOTAR so far. Now I'm here to add more pine worthy books to the list.

Top Ten(1/2) Most Anticipated Releases for 2nd Half of 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by the amazing people over at The Broke and the Bookish.

There are honestly, too many to capture at one time and I'm probably missing a bunch that I'm interested in as well as another portion that I've yet to discover. Nevertheless, here goes.

Also worth mentioning is Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner whose cover has yet to be released. 



What do you think?

DNF Review: The Kiss of Deception

A princess must find her place in a reborn world.
She flees on her wedding day.
She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor's secret collection.
She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.
She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.
The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can't abide. Like having to marry someone she's never met to secure a political alliance.
Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love. 

My Review

Author: Mary E. Pearson
Publication Date: July 8 2014
Pages: 492
Source: Library Ebook
It was a bad sign when I could barely remember the title of this book. It was a bad sign when, after devouring a book every day, I took a one week pause in the middle of this one. It was a bad sign when I did literally anything other than read.

There were a lot of signs, and maybe I should have listened to them.

I've watched paint dry before. It was an interesting process. The length of time was fascinating, but it was moreso to watch the colours change into darker versions. Even imagining the future, finished product was fun. Basically, I'm saying I've enjoyed watching paint dry more than I'e enjoyed reading The Kiss of Deception.

I don't understand what the draw is. I thought the story was so wholly uninspired that I got to the point where the assassin and prince's identities were revealed, and I was still bored out of my mind and decided that this story would never be for me.

Lia and I lack a relationship. I understand she ran away because she was abused and ignored most of her life. She wants to be valued for who she is rather than her title. She does not want to be a princess. Her family was willing to marry her off to a man she had never met, and all in all, I could theoretically understand the rationale of Lia's character and her friend, Pauline. I appreciated that they had a strong friendship, and in general, the friendships were something I did cheer on. I just couldn't give a damn about any of these characters. None of the characters captured my imagination. I suppose I've just had enough of the "I want to be normal" storyline, regardless of how reasonably justified it could be.

Maybe the story was doomed because this fundamental storyline has never interested me.

And then, there was the love triangle. I'm not one to indiscriminately bash on love triangles. I think they can be fascinating, if done well. But this one felt more ridiculous than normal to me. I mean, of course she is immediately interested in two people in town for her. One of them is an assassin, the other a prince. I thought both were terribly boring, I could not think of a single thing I thought was unique to either dude. Both seemed nice-ish, but there was a lot of marvelling at Lia.

I don't know why this book is almost 500 pages long. It makes the fact that I got more than halfway through even more impressive to me, in my eyes. Screw you Kobo, making me think this story was 350 pages. I would have stopped a hard copy ages ago. I feel like I gave this a fair shake and got through the boring intro bits until um, stuff finally happens. And it was amidst this stuff happening that I decided, definitively, that I didn't care.

Why wasn't this book condensed? The characters don't merit this kind of long set up, and I was reading about people doing chores all the time. I would have been far more satisfied had I started doing my own. Then, there was a certain scene that pushes Lia to action and frankly, I thought this was such a terrible plot device that I decided I couldn't continue. I couldn't.

I'm probably missing something because somehow, The Kiss of Deception has over 4 stars on Goodreads. I can see some parts are promising, like the friendships, but I personally was unbelievably bored. I think it's best if I just cut ties with this series and move on.



What do you think?

A Letter About My Journal

Monday, May 25, 2015
Dear Reader,

Today, I decided to invest in a multi-purpose leather-bound journal. It's not exactly a diary, agenda or a simple notebook. I'm not an artist and hence it's not my artsy doodle/art book. But picking it out and buying it was one of the most fun things. 

As a kid, I adored the idea of having a diary to record my thoughts. But as I grew up, the idea of perfection took over. I still wanted a journal, but I wanted the things written in it to matter. I wanted them to be well written and pretty, as well. The problem with free hand writing is, perfection is hard to get especially with my wobbly handwriting. It's surely not like typing where errors can be easily backspaced out of existence and bad formatting can be quickly fixed. Writing in a journal is a one draft activity and it's terrifying to a person so out of practice.

Today I wrote my first entry, and it was a bit of a disaster but I'm a little bit of a disaster and I love myself very much. I also loved the moments I spend sitting tucked away in a corner seat at Starbucks and writing that post with the smell of leather wafting of my new baby.

Writing free hand is very different from typing. They summon different words, they take different forms and while anything you write stays on the internet forever. Things you write in your journal stay close to you forever.

I hope to take my journal around with me everywhere. I want to write recipes, music recommendations, to-do lists, book ideas, blog posts and reviews in it. It'll embody my art that often takes the shape of a not-so-eloquently-but-uniquely-Mari group of words. 

Instagram: thesireniccodex


What do you think?