Review: The Jewel

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

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

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

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




What do you think?

Mari's Love for Coffee |Book Tag|

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

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

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

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

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

Hot Chocolate: Your favourite children's book

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

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

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

Starbucks: A book you see everywhere

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

That Hipster Coffee Shop: An indie author/book shoutout

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

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

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

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

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

Green Tea: A book/series that is quietly beautiful

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

Earl Grey: Name your favourite classic

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

Better :)



What do you think?

Review: A Million Miles Away

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

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



What do you think?

Review: The Diviners

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

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

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

My review

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

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

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

Because nothing happens.

Or, excuse me, very little happens.

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

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

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

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

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

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



What do you think?

It's not Maggie Stiefvater's Fault

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

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

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

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

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

Watching the movie helps me visualize.

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

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

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



What do you think?

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

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

Physical Books are Forever

by P.E.

Let me get my crystal ball out...

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

Who knows?

Katie M. Stout

by Mari

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

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


What do you think?

Cover Wars: A Study in Charlotte vs. Revenge and the Wild

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.

Congratulations to Revenge and the Wild for another great win. This weeks competition is A Study in Charlotte by Britanny Cavallaro.

2016 has some beautiful graphic covers and A Study in Charlotte is one of them. The use of blue and coral really works well on this cover. It is cute, simple and very attractive to the eye.

Which cover should win Cover Wars?


What do you think?

Review: Falling Kingdoms

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed... and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

It's the eve of war.... Choose your side.

Princess: Raised in pampered luxury, Cleo must now embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of magic long thought extinct.

Rebel: Jonas, enraged at injustice, lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished. To his shock, he finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making.

Sorceress: Lucia, adopted at birth into the royal family, discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Heir: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, firstborn son Magnus begins to realise that the heart can be more lethal than the sword....

My Review

Author: Morgan Rhodes
Pages: 412
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: December 11 2012
Source: Library

Falling Kingdoms lacked the depth requisite of truly great fantasy.

It appeared to me as if the story relied on a few too many cliches, and failed at creating something new. The motivations behind the characters actions were bizarre, and it was tough to know which of the characters I would root for because every single one of them made the sort of mistakes that are hard to get past.

Magnus, the Prince, could have possibly been sympathetic as a child born to an abusive father and an unloving mother, in love with his sister. He is probably the character that will most swing to the side of villain, and the possibility of Magnus redeeming himself, or choosing to be as vicious as his father was a major part of his storyline. Except that Magnus disgusted me from the start when he took advantage of servant women so that they could spy for him. In general, he used women, and I could have considered this to be part of his character, except that it played into the whole "Everyone loves a bad boy!" trope wherein all these female characters seemed to have fallen in love with him, and there's apparently many of them. One is mentioned by name, and her characterization was so weak, that it really felt like Magnus is an extremely gross predator. It's tough to feel too much sympathy to a man like that, regardless of circumstances.

Cleo was someone constantly referred to as fierce. She did prove that later on, but this was repeated so often, with one of the characters actually thinking of her as some sort of vicious snake or something, that I felt more irritated that I had heard about Cleo being fierce from other characters rather than seen it from herself. I mean, the very first time we meet Cleo, she is a bystander to something terrible. Then, she is forced into marriage. The only points where one sees Cleo's fierceness is when she's whining to her sister, who seems somewhat saintly, and her father, both people that love her. Of course, she does show a little more "fierceness" with a particular choice later on, but I'm still trying to get over just how terrible of a choice that was.

Jonas is a rebel that is understandably distressed because his kingdom is treated like shit by the other two, Limeros and Auranos, and he also witnessed his brother's death at the hands of an arrogant Auranian that was trying to take advantage of his father. So okay, I understand, Jonas is in a bad place. I wish this would have been further explored-- Jonas' feelings-- because what eventually occurs is no shock and I can't imagine why Jonas, an otherwise reasonable character, would have missed it. But hey, he's the least annoying of the bunch, except again there is a male character supposedly irresistible to other females that he doesn't really care about. Do these guys feel no sympathy about playing with and using people like that?

Finally, there is Lucia, who could quite possibly be the most disappointing character of them all. Lucia is probably brainwashed, and she is Magnus' sister. She has lots of power, although we barely explore it. What is ridiculous about Lucia is that she appears so saintly and wonderful except then she does something with so little thought just for the people she loves, and I really don't know how people go into a decision as big as hers so easily. Especially when she is potentially harming innocent people.

I'm sorry for the long write-ups about all the main characters, but all of these things were abundantly clear to me while reading and they affected my enjoyment of the story. I think you'll notice a few times that what I probably truly wanted was for Rhodes to further explore these characters and this world so that what the characters are doing and who they are makes more sense. As it is, the lack of detail almost feels like Rhodes didn't put in thought to the story.

Even the world building is really simple. There seem to be only three countries, and a common mythology shared by all of them. There is a lack of real details that I need to enjoy a story because otherwise, the story does not feel real to me. Falling Kingdoms suffered from that.

Now, after my long diatribe on the problems with Falling Kingdoms, there are two things to note: the ratings on Goodreads for the first book in the series are about 3.85, and the next jumps up to like 4.2 This is a significant increase and some of the problems I had with Falling Kingdoms are eerily similar to those in Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. We all know how that turned out. So, there is a real hope that the sequels are much better and that Rhodes has adjusted her writing a little bit.

The other thing is that despite all the issues I had with the characters, the world, and the writing, something pushed me to finish Falling Kingdoms. It was still a surprisingly entertaining read, especially the end. In fact, I think the ending of the story sets the story into a really interesting path and I do want to know what happens next. I like the ending and how bloodthirsty Rhodes was. The dynamic of her next book could be really awesome, and Goodreads says it is. That's enough to get me to consider continuing with the series, despite the flaws I felt were in the first.

What do you think? Should I continue? 



What do you think?

Blog Tour Review: Queen of Tomorrow

We don't usually participate in blog tours, but I very much enjoyed Queen of Someday and was really excited at the opportunity of reading more about Sophie's journey. You can find the full schedule of this tour on YA Bound Book Tours.

Sophie—now Catherine, Grand Duchess of Russia—had a tough first year at Imperial Court. Married at sixteen to Grand Duke Peter, heir to the throne, and settled in their own palace, things are finally looking up. As a new day dawns, she thinks only of securing her future, and the future of their country, during one of the greatest political upheavals of her time. Fighting desperately against forces trying to depose the Empress Elizabeth and put the young Prince Ivan on her throne, Sophie soon finds herself in the middle of a war brewing between her beloved Prussia, and her new empire. But even as she navigates the fragile political landscape, she quickly realizes that she has only begun to discover the tangled web of deceit and infidelity woven over the lavish court of Oranienbaum Palace.

When a strange and delicate alliance forms between the young couple, she glimpses a future of happiness, only to see it lost in a moment at the hands of those who still seek to end her life—and prevent her reign. Out of favor with the empress and running out of options, Sophie will have to sacrifice her own innocence on the altar of Russia if she is to save the nation, and herself. To survive, she will have to do the unthinkable, betray those closest to her and become something greater and more dangerous than she ever imagined she could be… a queen.

My Review 

Author: Sherry D. Ficklin
Sequel to: Queen of Someday
Pages: 280
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication Date: July 14th 2015
Source: eARC for blog tour

Oh Sophie, how you have grown. In Queen of Someday, Sophie was small and scared. She was innocent, and fell in love easily. She has grown tremendously from those days. 

I'll admit that I was shocked at how dark Queen of Tomorrow was. The violence Sophie encountered, as a women, was staggering, and frankly, hard to digest. I was so disgusted on Sophie's behalf. She is married to the heir of the Empress of Russia, and she is expected to produce an heir, at all costs. Peter, her husband, is abusive. He is violent, rash, and lacks empathy or foresight. Sophie had to manage him all throughout the story, but I was once again disgusted by her lot in life. 

I think I'd be remiss if I didn't issue a major trigging warning. There is intense misogyny and attacks on Sophie in Queen of Tomorrow. However, I didn't think it was gratuitous because it did support the storyline. It seems like the plot of Queen of Tomorrow was Sophie rising above all the challenges and limitations things like her gender, her title, her husband, or even her family put on her. 

Sophie is so incredibly resilient, and there is certainly something compelling about Sophie's ability to get back up and keep swinging. She is smart and resourceful, and she wants to rule. I love this. How often, in YA, do we read about women totally ready to take power and rule? Women with extreme ambition? Sophie knows she is capable, and she is ready to go for it. I like that she challenges her role and pushes back on barriers. However, she did concern me with some of her behaviours, but that's a part of Sophie's upbringing; she believes she has to please her husband. Sophie's growth fascinates me .

The plot is extremely quick. I was never bored for a single second and the pages flew by. It begins with Sophie in her palace with Peter, trying to rule, missing her real love Sergei, and just struggling to survive, and it continues with Sophie constantly having to regain her footing. Now, since I just mentioned Sergei, I love that he's in the story. Besides the benefits to the plot for having a high ranking member of Empress Elizabeth's court Sophie's lover, it's great to see that as much as the world is trying to mold Sophie into whatever they need, she pushes back. Sergei is her choice, and the presence of their relationship feels like Sophie reclaiming some control. 

Ultimately, I was very entertained by Queen of Tomorrow. Sophie's journey to the top fascinated me, and I hope to read more about Sophie defying the odds and kicking some ass in the sequel, Queen of Always. I'm also a little scared because the world is not kind to Sophie, and I don't like seeing her suffer again. This has probably been very clear throughout my review, but my fascination of Sophie is what spurs my interest in this series. Queen of Tomorrow is very different from Queen of Someday. Queen of Tomorrow is darker, and more dangerous. I very much recommend it for people comfortable with very dark, entertaining reads. 


Buy Links:

About the Author

Sherry D. Ficklin is a full time writer from Colorado where she lives with her husband, four kids, two dogs, and a fluctuating number of chickens and house guests. A former military brat, she loves to travel and meet new people. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.

She is the author of several YA novels and in her spare time she co-hosts Curvy Writer Radio.

Author Links:


What do you think?

Review: Disarm (Novellas 1-3)

Twenty-six-year-old Elsie Sherman has had a crush on her brother’s best friend, Henry Logan, since she was twelve years old. Unfortunately, Henry—now an Air Force officer—has only ever treated her like a younger sister, stepping into her brother’s shoes after he was killed in action.
That is, until the night when one dance ignites a sensual fire between the two, leaving Elsie aroused and confused. Is she allowed to lust after her surrogate big brother, who also happens to be her roommate? As the passion between them crosses the line into a territory that teases with the forbidden, Elsie decides to give herself to the man she has always desired. But Elsie is not prepared for where the relationship will take her.
Henry has been harboring two secrets. One can bring them closer together. The other will tear them apart. Now, with each startling new revelation, Elsie realizes that only she can decide if the past can ever be forgiven—and if a future with Henry is worth fighting for.

My review

Author: June Gray
Pages: 384
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Source:  Library
Contains 6 novellas

My obligatory man in uniform romance fix was almost overdue and I'm quite happy that I picked this one up. I refuse to view this novella collection as a novel. But I do see many instances in which the author could have made these novellas into a real book, story wise.

The whole thing felt very choppy and light so much so that it was almost superficial. Elise and Henry had a cute past that lead up to their relationship, but their relationship in the present didn't have much depth beside the physical type.

There was also the tidbit where I didn’t realize this was an erotic romance when I picked it up. Do I mind? Not really, but I did feel like the story could have been much stronger if there wasn’t a sex intermission in between every important conversation. That's just my opinion and obviously the book gave sufficient hints that it wouldn't be like that. Even so, I found this to be quite enjoyable. 

I did decide to stop reading after novella number 3, Retreat because the story had done what I needed it to, get me out of my slump and I no longer enjoyed the direction it was taking. All in all, an enjoyable romance, really light, sexy and feel good but also heartbreaking as is usually the case with military romances. Recommended for an adult audience.



What do you think?

Review: Talon

Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

My review

Author: Julie Kagawa
Pages: 449
Publication Date: October 28 2014
Source: Library

Talon was not what I was expecting. It was so much lighter than I thought it would be, and surprisingly, I did not despise that. I say "despise that" because I don't actively seek out light books. In fact, I actively avoid them. I don't have anything against them except that my tastes are somewhat extreme, and I would like extreme stories.

Now, as far as light books go, because I have read a few, I liked this one. It had a very different mood from the other Kagawa books I've read. (I suddenly have an urge to continue with her vampire series, which was darker.) There is a lot to like in Julie Kagawa's writing, from the importance of family, and the fact that her characters have friendships that matter to them. Ember herself was a character that stuck me as quite immature, but in an incredibly lovable way.

Gosh, I would love to be friends with Ember. Ember is honest and fierce. She says and does what she wants, and she seems to be oblivious to the consequences of her actions. Ember is that friend that has great stories and is always passionate about everything. She rants and squeals and her emotions are always quite obvious. She is not always reasonable and sometimes you feel like telling her to grow up, but like my little sister, she is lovable anyway.

The entire story seemed to be fun and exciting. The dragon mythology was pretty light and basically, Talon is an evil corporation-like entity committed to the preservation of dragons. Now when I say committed, I mean that they are creepy fanatics that are willing to do terrible things to accomplish their goals. And there's another group, St. George, which are a bunch of dragon hunters committed to the extinction of dragonkind. Dragons in Talon like shiny things, are predators that breathe fire, but also possess a human form where they are incredibly beautiful so that they can better manipulate human emotions.

It's all entertaining and fun, and there is nothing wrong with that. It's just not my type. I think Talon skews towards younger YA because it is surprisingly sweet, and it lacks some of the details of older YA. Ember's naivete is a strength, but I think I've read this story of wanting to be normal a billion times and so it didn't stand out to me. I'm more curious about Ember's brother, Dante, who is the 'good kid'. You know, the one that does what he is told and does not get into trouble. I don't understand Dante and that's probably because Ember is pretty self-absorbed. Dante is interesting because as Ember is truly enjoying the human experience, Dante is more committed to Talon's cause. And I don't really want to talk about the plot because it was a classic buildup-until-the-end-where-there-is-a-cliffhanger, and I don't feel like saying for the billionth time that I wish there was more stuff happening throughout the story.

In general though, I don't feel like Talon really brought anything new to the table. Nothing about the world or characters has intrigued me enough to follow up with this series and I think I'm being quite nice in my review of Talon because I think this book will be excellent for some audiences, and I see some MG crossover. This was not what I was looking for in a book, and I am disappointed in that. However, I suppose if I'm going to have to be surprised and read a really light, younger YA type read, then this one is not the worst in the world. So, there's that, I guess. #glowingenthusiasm



What do you think?

DNF Review: Nowhere But Here

Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she's curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn't mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both.

Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They're the good guys. They protect people. They're…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club's most respected member—is in town, he's gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it's his shot at his dream. What he doesn't count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.

No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home

My Review

Author: Katie McGarry
Date of Publication: May 26, 2015
Pages: 496
Source: Library

Saying that I really wanted to like this book is an understatement. Or maybe, it isn't because I couldn't make myself finish it.

Katie McGarry and I have a 2:1, love:dislike ratio. Not bad. And everything in Nowhere But Here's premise, cover and early reviews pointed to an updated 3:1 ratio. Obviously, something went sour.

From the very beginning this books was weak. Emily is obnoxious, inconsistent and annoying for lack of a better word. She is introduced as this perfect good girl who is so high and mighty that she doesn't give her biological dad the light of day when he comes to visit every year. Such a chore. When suddenly thrust into his crowd she doesn't waste time to a) slut shame b) grandma shame "grandma's don't swear" and c) look down on Oz and then mentally undress him. There were also several moments when she would talk about her courage at looking these wild people in the eyes and the next second she'll be barfing her guts up on someones shoes. No, she didn't impress me.

Next is Oz, swoony not Oz...  His chapters weren't as disagreeable. The little that I read about the motorcycle club was interesting. But there was nothing about Oz that really captured my attention enough to make me want to stay. His frequent sexual comments about Emily's appearance weren't very enjoyable to read about either.

I could go on and write about my thoughts on the writing, plot, and such but I only got to about 30% of the book. McGarry is a great writer but this book's issue, in my opinion, was the story. Not much interesting had happened in the first 30% and for a book this size 30% is a lot of pages for me to make a decision. Definitely not for me.



What do you think?

Review: Princess of Thorns

Game of Thrones meets the Grimm's fairy tales in this twisted, fast-paced romantic fantasy-adventure about Sleeping Beauty's daughter, a warrior princess who must fight to reclaim her throne.

Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora's throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it's too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?

My Review 

Author: Stacey Jay
Pages: 400
Publication Date: December 9 2014
Source: Library
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Dear Princess of Thorns, 

I love you beyond words. However, seeing as humanity is not yet capable of communicating the depths of our feelings without some verbal cues, I am forced to use words to convey my utter appreciation for you. 

I luh you. 

Aurora, is awesome. She is loud, proud, and stubborn as hell. She has a destiny and refuses to back down from it. She is willing to do the most ridiculous things to get what she wants, and her go-getter attitude is the fucking bomb. I wish she could be real so we could be BFFs and tbh I've always loved squirrels. She never takes shit from anyone, and she made mistakes, but she was so passionately herself, so loud and free and wild in the most gloriously Aurora-way ever, and I love her for it.

Niklaas... his character development was ON FLEEK. He started out gorgeously quippy, (I mean, a freaking sun god? What's not to like?) yet I could not appreciate his casual, much manly man misogyny. But he learned grew through deeply analyzing his feelings and finally, he saw women as people. I love that. I love Stacey Jay for the extremely delicate way this was covered. Niklaas was an asshole, but other parts of him were lovable, like his wit, his sense of duty, and his stubborness too. Damnit, Niklaas and Aurora are the most stubborn couple that ever was and that will ever be.

I ship it.

The best part was that Jay wrote about Niklaas' past and why he had grown up, socialized to believe in certain things, and how he finally overcame it. #feminism #geteducated

And then, Princess of Thorns, there is the lovely spirit of destiny. All the lovely components of Sleeping Beauty are twisted into something new while maintaining the spirit of the original fairy tale. This was done through the writing. I always thought Stacey Jay was a great writer, but it was not until Princess of Thorns that I truly appreciated the poetry of her words. Stacey Jay incorporates mystique into every word, and her creative use of perspectives elevates Princess of Thorns. Different characters with complex motivations are revealed, and the story has a few moving parts that converge in a satisfying climax and resolution.

Princess of Thorns is mostly a romance, and Aurora and Niklaas eclipse everything else in the story. There is a great evil that they both fight, but that is very secondary to Aurora learning to use her fairy gifts, and frankly, I enjoyed the banter between the two so much that I did not care about the overall plot as much as I may normally. I was under a spell.

Princess of Thorns, you are no retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Sleeping Beauty is the inspiration, and there are direct links to the original tale, but the story is something completely different, and it is wonderful. It is full of castles and wars, corruption and hate. This is a journey between Niklaas and Ror, and frankly, I wish Stacey Jay's kickstarter was still running because I love these characters and I wish I could read more about them. Alas, it's too late now, and I can only hope that Stacey Jay will one day write another book and I will read it.

Princess of Thorns, to me, is definitely on the level of other brilliant retellings by the likes of Jackson Pearce and Rosamund Hodge. I recommend this for fans of the other two, or fans of gorgeous writing in fantasy.



What do you think?

Cover Wars: Reign of Shadows vs. Revenge and the Wild

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.

What an awesome Cover Wars we had last week! Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto managed to almost pull a clean sweep. Can it do the same against Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan.  

I love the bright colours of Reign of Shadow. The purple hues are very nice on the eyes and its always great to see covers that play with the title typography. Reign of Shadows is very much and embodiment of a young forest while its competitor, Revenge and the Wild, is the mature forest with the autumn colours. 

Which cover should win Cover Wars?


What do you think?

Review: Bone Gap

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?

Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

My Review

Author: Laura Ruby
Pages: 373
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Library

Bone Gap is an intelligent read that has very interesting themes. It was a little hard for me to get into in the beginning, but by the end, I was in its spell. 

Laura Ruby is a fantastic writer. Her writing is poetic and atmospheric, and she conveys this gorgeous, dreamy atmosphere. There is a lot of depth to her writing, and if you're a fan of Nova Ren Suma in particular, I believe Bone Gap is a perfect match. (Nova Ren Suma is like Maggie Stiefvater but she blurs the lines between magic and reality more.) Imagining Bone Gap, a small town surrounded by fields of corn, came easily to me. So, if you're a fan of beautiful writing, Bone Gap will work. 

The plot took some time to explain, and it's one of those stories that will never be straightforward. There will not be an explanation as to the what, how, and who of everything. This story feasts on feelings, and it relies on the reader being so hooked on this dreamy atmosphere that they realize that the logistics don't matter. You need to be open to metaphors and forgetting the literal. 

My interpretation of Bone Gap was that it was a story about beauty. Roza is kidnapped because she is beautiful. This is not the first terrible thing to happen to Roza because she is pretty. People seem to assume that being beautiful is easy, and Bone Gap is quite dark in explaining the harassment Roza has faced her entire life. She is viewed as an object, and the only value people assign to her is physical. She is gorgeous, and everyone can see that, but she isn't truly seen for who she is. 

Finn is interesting in comparison to Roza because he is also considered to be gorgeous, but the difference in how a beautiful man is treated versus the treatment of a beautiful woman is stark. At worst, Finn is objectified and adored from afar. He is never threatened, and girls think he is beautiful, but others don't define him solely based on his appearance, as they do Roza. This dynamic fascinated me, especially when you take in that the side characters, Sean and Priscilla, are not considered to be stunning and are also dealing with their insecurities. 
The exploration of this theme is what solidified my enjoyment of Bone Gap. It was extremely well done, and I don't often read books that explore a theme so thoroughly, yet enjoyably.It gives Bone Gap a literary quality, but it also sets it apart. Some books are great because of the setting, the plot, or the characters. Very few books are great because they explore themes. I don't think this is the only way to read Bone Gap, but this was what drove the story, in my opinion. 



What do you think?

Thursday Thoughts: Peevy Dialogue; Show, Don't Tell

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

Peevy Dialogue

By Mari

In my mind, there is a very thin line separating quality dialogue from "trashy". It's not very common in YA but there is the odd book that contains this type of dialogue masked as teenage talk. The most common sources of Mari peeving dialogue are romance novels and my reading slump mind picks up every peevy phrase and freaks out over it. For instance:

".. he has suck-me-in blue eyes that wander over my body like he's seeing me with my clothes off."
-Nowhere but Here by Katie McGarry

Ugh, I've been begrudging this terrible compilation of words for a day and a half now. I hate suck-me-in eyes. What are you trying to accomplish with this besides instalust? And if I think a guy I barely know is visualizing me naked, I run the heck away. Call me a prude, but that's a turn off for me.

Don't tell me about your character, show me

by P.E.

Speaking of pet peeves, it irritates me when authors don't show me character development. Telling me a character is fierce is not enough. You can't just say, "this character is shy" and then call that character development. It's lazy. I should infer qualities about a character-- whether they're fierce, brave, dangerous, as I read about what the character is doing. First, give me some proof. Give me lots of it. Then, you can have side character or alternate POVs remark on this. Otherwise, I read another character's description and instead of my own thoughts being affirmed, I become confused, then critical. Don't make me a critical reader. I hate being forced out of the story to contemplate authenticity. 


What do you think?

Review: Far From You

Sophie Winters nearly died. Twice.

The first time, she's fourteen, and escapes a near-fatal car accident with scars, a bum leg, and an addiction to Oxy that'll take years to kick.

The second time, she's seventeen, and it's no accident. Sophie and her best friend Mina are confronted by a masked man in the woods. Sophie survives, but Mina is not so lucky. When the cops deem Mina's murder a drug deal gone wrong, casting partial blame on Sophie, no one will believe the truth: Sophie has been clean for months, and it was Mina who led her into the woods that night for a meeting shrouded in mystery.

After a forced stint in rehab, Sophie returns home to a chilly new reality. Mina's brother won't speak to her, her parents fear she'll relapse, old friends have become enemies, and Sophie has to learn how to live without her other half. To make matters worse, no one is looking in the right places and Sophie must search for Mina's murderer on her own. But with every step, Sophie comes closer to revealing all: about herself, about Mina and about the secret they shared. 

My Review

Author: Tess Sharpe
Pages: 320
Publication Date: March 27 2014
Publisher: Orion
Source:  Library

I've been on a serious fantasy kick lately, and I was not expecting this book to completely and utterly blow me away with how great it was.

Sometimes, you read the first page of a book and you know this book is perfect for you. That was my experience with Far From You. Far From You was fantastic from the start, and I was quickly enraptured by Sophie and her story.

The fantastic part about Far From You is that the story is based on the characters and learning about Sophie, but there is also the intrigue of revealing Mina's killer. I can't stress just how fabulous the character development was for Sophie, Mina, Trevor, and everyone else Sophie knew. It genuinely felt like getting a peek at someone else's life because they all had backgrounds and ties to each other. I particularly loved how many memories Mina, Trevor, and Sophie shared on account of being friends for so long. They went through a lot together and their relationships grew and evolved, quite naturally.

Sophie was a phenomenal character. At the beginning of Far From You, Sophie had been sent to rehab because her parents believed she had relapsed. Sophie had been in a car crash with Mina and Trevor, although she was the only one that was seriously hurt. To treat her injuries, she was given opiates and she eventually developed an addiction to them. This, in addition to some psychological trauma of car accidents, and back and leg issues. There are so many different layers to Far From You, from Sophie dealing with her addiction, to her friendship with Mina, and even the strained relations with her family.Sophie had a very active family and they were very important in shaping her character. It's nice to read a story in which family is active and matters.

The real star of Far From You has to be Sophie and Mina. Their relationship was phenomenal. Mina was playful and stubborn, so passionate and fierce, yet overwhelmingly sweet too. She was always there for Sophie. Though the narration was always in Sophie's perspective, the time often jumped from chapter to chapter (always coherently!) and this allowed Sharpe to develop Mina as a real person to mourn. It also allowed the reader to see the changes in Sophie through the past few years of her life. In effect, the characters and the story became extremely well developed.

I shouldn't have to mention that the writing is also super awesome, but it is. I liked so many of Sharpe's ideas, from the characters she introduced, to the consistency of the character development. The eventual reveal of Mina's killer was part of the climax, but even some very good scenes don't manage to beat out Sophie and the other characters for the absolute best part of Far From You. This is a character driven book, and it is a very good one at that.

I don't read too many contemporaries, but if more were like this, I would devour them all. Far From You is a candidate for being the best book I've read this year.



What do you think?

Cover Wars: Revenge and the Wild 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 Fractured Lights brilliant colours win another round. This time it's back against Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto.

How about two covers on the opposite sides of the colour spectrum? Revenge and the Wild is subtle in comparison to its competitor but not any less captivating. The title typography is gorgeous and the burning feature was nicely integrated. I wonder if the bits of red are blood splatters... the intrigue :)

Which cover should win Cover Wars?


What do you think?

Top Ten Hyped Books I've Never Read

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

Don't Plan To:

I don't enjoy Maggie's writing and I have a bird-phobia so no to The Raven Boys. As for The Lightening Thief I feel like I'm beyond its story line though I realize I'm definitely missing out. I have no interest in the rest.

Lazy, but one day:

Red Rising is first on my tbr list from these three. I might wait for The 5th Wave to become a movie and the Partials I'll give a chance soon.. maybe.. one day.



What do you think?

Review: These Broken Stars

Luxury spaceliner Icarus suddenly plummets from hyperspace into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive -- alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a cynical war hero. Both journey across the eerie deserted terrain for help. Everything changes when they uncover the truth.  The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.

My review

Authors: Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Pages: 390
Publication Date: December 23 2014
Source: Library hardcover (it's so pretty!)

Well then.

I was excited for These Broken Stars for so long and I believe that my excitement peaked the first time I started reading the book. I don't remember the exact date, but inevitably, it was during a vacation from school. Every time I came back home, I would go splurge on books at the library, and indubitably, I would have been extremely excited to see one of the best Cover Wars feature covers in person. So I started reading These Broken Stars a while ago. However, I never finished it and it was returned to the library unread.

I picked it up again this summer, and continued where I let off months earlier. I struggled to establish an emotional connection and it might be because I had wrecked the mystique of a book. I read books extremely fast, and that's because I don't want them to drag out. I want to be fully engrossed in the story, and I took a long break between starting These Broken Stars and finishing it. By the time I reread the story, I wasn't all that invested.

I guess the story just wasn't for me. I think that's the best way to explain it. I didn't find it very interesting. Even the supposed major twist was not enough. These Broken Stars is a romance, and I've never been interested in romance as the main plot point. It was a well-developed romance that took its time, and there was a lot to like about it technically, except that at best, I like romance as a side dish. There was the other plotline of survival, but it is extremely clear based on these little interview-like segments with Tarver later on that the characters would survive. So really, where is the intrigue in a survival story without the potential for tragedy?

I guess the fact that the Icarus became shipwrecked should have fulfilled my tragedy metre, but it's not like I knew most of the 50 000 people on board. And to be very honest, it happened so early onto the story that the only sadness I could feel was through Tarver and Lilac's reflections.

Now, besides the fact that I could be in a reading slump, or I left this book alone too long, or whatever the reason for my lack of interest, I can admit that I did think Tarver was a good character. Tarver is extremely gentle and sweet. I think this is underrated, and I liked that he was considerate. He usually takes care of everyone around him, and that's kind of adorable. He was like a teddy bear, and I appreciated his empathy.

I was very conflicted about Lilac early on, but grew to grudgingly respect her. Lilac alternated between clever and fierce to astonishingly annoying in the beginning of the book. I think was annoyed me was her arrogance. I think this was intentional because Lilac is supposed to be arrogant. She has grown up with privilege and has never been in danger. She believes that her father and he name, Lilac LaRoux, can protect her from everything, and so she does not listen to Tarver. I hated that she was a little bit manipulative, especially because I felt like he was so sweet. But in saying this, I never thought her characterization was flawed because I would expect this from her. She can't be perfect, and she shouldn't have to be sweet. Characters need to make mistakes, and I guess watching her grow was an important part of the story.

Now, the real question: will I continue with this series? I think that very much depends on the reviews for the next book. I'm not into starcrossed lovers romance stories, and the major plot twist in this book didn't really intrigue me. I don't think I would continue These Broken Stars because, despite the writing which is quite nice if not long, the story was not to my tastes. Frankly, I'm not sure where the series will go because I feel like this could have easily been a standalone. An overall story arc has not been introduced, so if I start reading that the next book is amazing and exciting and fierce, I could continue. Who knows what can happen?

Update: I read this book so late that I never realized the sequel, This Shattered World is already out. And based on the synopsis, I don't think it's for me. Apparently, the entire Starbound trilogy revolves around starcrossed lover stories which erm, are not for me. I need more action not centred around romance. So, unless This Shattered World has a lot of action and plots outside of the romance, I don't think this series really works for me.

Still, I can always be convinced otherwise. Give it your best shot in the comments and maybe this'll get a Celaena Sardothien-like revival. :p



What do you think?

STS and Summer Cleaning in Mari's Bookshelf

Stacking the Shelves is hosted at Tynga's Reviews


I've been enjoying thrift store book shopping and during one of my visits I managed to sweep up these four beauties for the whooping total of $8 and in perfect condition. I am quite happy.

I've actually already read Gracling but it's a book I always think about and am happy to have on my shelves. Seraphina and Just Listen are two books that I've been meaning to pick up for years and I couldn't pass up a deal for them. Lastly, Something Borrowed was a spur of the moment purchase that was consolidated by my addiction to Suits (the protagonist is a lawyer) and my need for more summer romances.

Last Chance Reads

The addition of the above four books just required me to displace my bookshelf and reorganize everything. I'm quite happy with the turn out, some books got moved down and other ups (OUTLANDER now occupies my favourites shelf). 

This is also when I drafted by last change reads list. Basically, the following books have been sitting on my shelves for several months/years. My goal this summer is to crack them open and see if I can give them another go or else it is time to donate. The City of Bones series which have fallen to my bottom shelf, should have also been on this shelf but... I couldn't let go just yet. 


Lost in the middle of a book, I found my favourite elementary school bookmark. My brother bought this for me from a school book fair and I'm really happy to have it back.

What did you get this week? Are you clearing out your shelves? Any fun discoveries?



What do you think?

ARCs Are Not For Me

One way a blogger could judge their success could be access to ARCs. Let's be very honest: if you can access them, that means you've done a great job of building an audience, connecting with the industry, and are a fairly consistent and proficient reviewer. It's the reason Mari and I joined NetGalley. It's part of the blogging game.

I'm a massive failure on NetGalley, and honestly, that's because the titles I read there are not the ones I crave. I don't have access to those, and building my way up to those is something I'm not ready for any more. College shocked me with the complexity and the length of readings I had to do, and being the overachiever that I am, I read every one of them and wrote notes too. By the time I got around to leisurely reading, my brain was fried and my vision was blurry. It was probably also around 2am.

I had a goal to read 100 books this year. It's an arrestingly pedestrian amount compared to the 300 I did during high school that one year, but I'm extremely behind on account of reading too little during university. So, now that I'm enjoying my summer break, I'm looking to get back in the reading game (in which I'm like 25 books behind on my challenge!). I can read a book extremely quickly, but, as I've matured too, I've realized that I want to read books I'll love.

I think I'm going to retire being a reviewer and go back to being a reader. You may have noticed that my last few reviews are less technical. I've tried to emphasize creative writing and really write my opinion as honestly as I can. That's because I don't really want to judge books. I don't want to write about their merits or failures. I just want to write about books I enjoy.

When you're reviewing books that haven't come out, it's really like stabbing in the dark. Let's be very honest: judging a book by its cover or even synopsis does not always work, and it's a little bit tiring to continuously read books that aren't 'my type'. You read the book, not knowing what to expect, and you formulate an opinion. I've reviewed books I knew nothing about that I loved. I've also read a whole bunch of 'meh' books because I was excited that people were offering me stuff to review.

I don't want to do that. I don't want to spend my time arbitrarily deciding what is good or not. I want to read good things. I want to enjoy them. That means that unless I get my hands on an author I know I'll love (a Maggie Stiefvater, or Holly Black type book) or a series, or even a book I feel extremely excited for, I'm extremely comfortable letting it go. I'm okay with letting other brave readers try the pages and I love reading others' reviews before deciding if it's right for me. (As an aside, I might be one of the few bloggers that enjoys commenting on reviews the most.)

This way, I've been reading phenomenal books. I'm excited about everything I read and I'm always looking for hidden gems: books that are not publicized widely, but are dearly loved by the majority of readers. I always change my reading philosophy, so I can't definitively say that this is the best philosophy for me, but I'm in a point in my life where I feel this works.

What do you think? Do you like reading reviews and knowing what you're getting into, or do you enjoy being one of the first few to experience a story?



What do you think?