Thursday, June 6, 2013

Moving on to The Sirenic Codex, My New Blog

Hi everybody! I haven't been around very much lately but not for lack of reading or writing. I've been working on a pretty interesting new project.

I've always liked blogging but I've always enjoyed reading and reviewing more. For me, the hardest thing about being a blogger is having quality content and posting the content I do have. That's why I was pretty happy to collaborate with Mari to create a new blog that both of us will use. It's a YA book blog and we're both looking at it as a fresh start.

I've enjoyed blogging at Tantalizing Illusions. I'm so proud of this blog and every time I receive a comment, it makes my day. I hope you'll follow me to The Sirenic Codex because there will be a lot of quality content; reviews, spotlights, and features. You already know what I can do, and Mari is a pretty fantastic blogger herself.

I've appreciated my time on this blog and I'm going to keep this blog around as a reference, and something to look back to, although I will stop posting on here. Thank you all so much for being great followers and showing a girl that yes, people do care about her opinion.



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Review: The Waiting Tree

The Waiting TreeAuthor: Lindsay Moynihan
Pages: 224
Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing
Source: Review copy- thank you
Synopsis: Eighteen-year-old Simon Peters wants to stand up for the truth about who he is. His love for Stephen is unwavering, but does he have the courage to defend it when his entire church community, including his eldest brother has ostracized him? Trapped in a cashier's job he hates, struggling to maintain peace with his brothers after their parents have died, and determined to look after his mute brother, Simon puts everyone else's needs before his own. It takes a courageous act of self-sacrifice on Jude's part to change both of their lives forever. Jude, who knew that when the fig tree in their yard began to bloom, it was his time to finally be heard and to set Simon free.

Simon is gay in a small town where being different is enough to have you shunned from society. When he's caught with Stephen by Stephen's dad, Simon's life changes in the worst way. Even his brother Paul has a hard time accepting him.

Let's be real: Simon's life sucks. It actually depressed me a little because I couldn't see very much of a bright side to the story. Simon has an awful job, didn't finish high school, his parents are dead, his brother is an idiot, his twin brother needs extra help and attention that Simon's unable to completely provide and his best friend has been sent away. The whole situation was uninspiring because it just seems to get worse every day.

I couldn't connect with Simon because our lives are so different. So much of the racist and homophobic crap he has to deal with doesn't exist where I live, at least so blatantly. I have no doubt that there are garbage people who say garbage things but living in possibly one of the most multicultural communities in the world where there are so many religions, ethnicities, and cultures, I couldn't believe the way they treated Simon. If anyone has to experience that I feel for them but there's a better world out there; they just need to find it.

Simon himself was meant to be someone I sympathized and I did, but I didn't connect with him. I have never experienced the influence of a church or felt ostracized for any reason. I also couldn't get a grip on Simon's character. The one trait that defined him was that he cared more about others than himself and that trait was a little bit forcefully fed to the reader as the supporting characters kept saying it. I didn't feel like Simon had much of a personality. Those little details that make people real— maybe they listen to a certain type of music, watch TV or have an online life— just weren't there.

That's something I wondered a lot when reading The Waiting Tree. Where was the technology? This book was written with the intention of being gritty and realistic so does it take place a while ago? The reason I ask is that technology is integrated to the life of every teen. Even if you can't afford internet there is WiFi. Libraries offer free internet access and through the internet there are communities and resources that could have been beneficial to Simon. If there isn't a group you feel you relate with in reality, you can hang out with one online. So that bugged me just because I wanted this story to be realistic not just in the bad ways but the good ways too and I don't feel like that happened.

The other thing to consider is this is not my usual type of book so I wasn't very into it. It never drew me in and that's because I don't usually read these types of books for a reason. I rarely read contemporary that isn't intensely tragic; life lessons aren't my thing. Life in jeopardy is. That's just the type of reader I am. I didn't enjoy reading The Waiting Tree and I felt like the ending was abrupt and not as enlightening as it was meant to be.

So, this book gets 1 star. It just wasn't my type of read because I couldn't relate to it. I wouldn't discourage anyone from trying The Waiting Tree if it seems like the type of book you'd enjoy.

1 star,


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Review: Crash and Burn

Crash and Burn

Author: Michael Hassan
Pages: 532
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Library
Synopsis: On April 21, 2008, Steven "Crash" Crashinsky saved more than a thousand people when he stopped his classmate David Burnett from taking their high school hostage armed with assault weapons and high-powered explosives. You likely already know what came after for Crash: the nationwide notoriety, the college recruitment, and, of course, the book deal. What you might not know is what came before: a story of two teens whose lives have been inextricably linked since grade school, who were destined, some say, to meet that day in the teachers' lounge of Meadows High. And what you definitely don't know are the words that Burn whispered to Crash right as the siege was ending, a secret that Crash has never revealed.

Until now.

Michael Hassan's shattering novel is a tale of first love and first hate, the story of two high school seniors and the morning that changed their lives forever. It's a portrait of the modern American teenage male, in all his brash, disillusioned, oversexed, schizophrenic, drunk, nihilistic, hopeful, ADHD-diagnosed glory. And it's a powerful meditation on how normal it is to be screwed up, and how screwed up it is to be normal.

I've given Crash and Burn some honest thought, and I think I love it. The operative word being "think" because there's a lot to hate too, and I can see why some people didn't enjoy this book.

But in this review, mine is the only opinion that matters and I'll do my best to explain why this book messed me up so bad.

See, I thought the writing was refreshing. It's not artistic and pretty. It's not stupidly plain. The writing has a voice and so when I read this book, I could imagine Crash talking. There was credibility because Crash had such attitude and it was all there. There is swearing but the real, natural kind. Nobody was trying too hard. There were pop culture references which I totally understood although Crash is a few years older than me. There was rambles which made sense since Crash is not a professional writer. He's kind of self absorbed and this is his book and he'll put whatever he wants in it.

The most endearing quality of Crash and Burn is the believability. Crash is a believable character. Getting to know him is unreal because there are so many layers and parts to his life that he's almost tangible. I can see him. I can imagine him. It's like one of my wishes when I was a kid, to be able to live as someone else, came true because I got to experience the world through the eyes of Stephen Crashinsky, a messed up and real kid.

The most interesting thing is that I don't even know if I like Crash. I don't know if I don't. It doesn't seem to matter because Crash is Crash. There are times he disgusted me, like all the stupid times he lit up and how he was such a manwhore who treated girls like crap. Maybe if I met him for real, I would hate him because he is a jerk. I know I wouldn't like him.


There's more to people than what you see, and this holds true with Crash. He's an asshole and makes some baaad decisions, but there are some moments where I want to hug him because he's real. He's screwing up and dealing with what everybody feels in his own way. From his protectiveness of his sister, to his relationship with his asshole of a father, to his brutal honesty, Crash won me over. He's a tool; a jerk. But I can't say I don't hate him. It's not even about like or hate; Crash feels real to me in a way you never see people or books.

He has all these messed up thoughts in his head, all these awkward moments full of attitude and uncertainty that are fundamental to life. I was never bored with this book. I was completely and utterly engrossed in Crash's story.

And it was a long book. Like, over 500 pages of emotional, real, funny, disgusting shit and it kind of messed with me. It was a real and unfiltered account of Crash's life with hardships and success. The story wasn't chronological and jumped from scene to scene. I loved it because it brought so much insight to Crash's world. There were so many different themes going on; so many storylines that flowed in and out. Recurring characters, fading characters, and new characters. So much about life as a teenager in this time period, and responsibility, and not knowing who to be and how to act. There were surprisingly emotional stories because I could connect. My life isn't like Crash's at all, but the basic feelings are there. I even feel like I went on a bit of a journey with the main character. This book is one of those books.

What originally drew me into the story was the concept: school shooting, who did it and why? I was curious about Burn and I was not expecting too much from this book. I was surprised at how layered the story was. Especially the characters: there's so much to them. Burn was supposed to be a draw although this story really is about Crash. Their relationship was fascinating.

We all have that friend we've known since forever. The ones we don't really consider friends but were a part of our childhood. Maybe our parents hung out together and we hated them. We grew up together though and this is a link that, no matter what happens in the future, will always exist. That is Crash and Burn. They have a bond. It's weird and messed up and you can't even explain it properly because it is constantly evolving. Crash owes a lot to Burn. Crash also hates Burn. Crash feels bad for Burn. Watching the way their lives are linked is so fascinating if not disturbing. Burn is a genius although screwed up. He's vengeful and smart. Actually, there's really no way to describe Burn beyond that he is. Somehow, Burn's actions make sense in some twisted way when considering his character.

That's what I think needs to be said about this book. While Burn's actions are the premise, the story really didn't need things to go so extreme to draw you in. It's a book about people and the stuff that defines them. It is not a feel good story. It doesn't try to be inspiring. It doesn't leave with a happy ending. It is the story of one dude's life to this point, and somehow it is one of the best books I've ever read. I want to reread this book. I want to buy it (I previously got it from the library).

Crash and Burn makes me think and feel. I don't normally write reviews this long, but this book has inspired me in some ways. To do what I want to do. To listen to myself. To realize that even the stupidest little things like some random beans can save someone's life, but at the same time how can beans really save a life?

5 stars.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

It's happening on Goodreads!

I've obviously neglected this blog, but that doesn't mean I've stopped reading and reviewing. I'm on Goodreads and I review & talk books there! So in case you still want to follow along with my reading adventures (and it would be sweet if you did!) you can follow me on Twitter  or friend me on Goodreads! I'll still keep this blog around and I think I will post reviews, although they will be select reviews from Goodreads and kinda sporadic. I appreciate the support either way.

It's been great and if you're reading this, it means a lot to me. Thank you!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Pandemic of Book Amnesia

Most of the people reading this post are book bloggers or at least very dedicated readers. The type of people that read daily. We devour books like they're food and we're never satisfied. Occasionally we grow impatient with one type of flavour, but upon seeing a really epic trailer for an upcoming book, we get right back into it. We read so much, so fast, and sometimes it takes a toll on our lives. We're those strange people that sometimes would rather just curl up with a nice book instead of going shopping. It's weird to friends who don't read, and we've been told so many times that we read too much.

Another toll it's taken on me is my memory. Now, I'm not blaming books on what I would call "absentmindedness" (or what my mom calls "idiocy"). Rather, where do you think all those thousands, maybe even millions, of words go? They can't all stay in my brain. So some go away. Most people remember general storylines for books they read. They remember character names, backgrounds, covers, anything. Everyone has this issue to some degree, but I feel like I suffer more than others. 

I have book amnesia. Also known as liber amnesia.

It's rather shameful and embarrassing. I have been ridiculed for it. Mostly by this one really mean Vampire Academy/ Sidney Crosby fan, but it still hurts. All jokes aside, I find it really weird and so do others. You might be wondering why, so I'll tell you some of the symptoms of my condition. 


  • forgetting character's names. 
  • forgetting the story.
  • forgetting the title. 
  • forgetting what happens
  • forgetting I ever read the book.
  • forgetting if I liked it or not. 
Now, it's pretty obvious why I write a review for a book almost immediately after reading it. The thing about these "symptoms" is that they aren't exactly bad. Everyone forgets stories and books sometimes. The thing that's a little extreme is how fast I can forget. I've read a book, and a day later can't remember the main character's love interest's name. I've read a book I adored so much that I made my friend buy it and then she reads it within a week of me. We try to talk about the ending but I can't remember it all. It's tragic because you can imagine how much I can remember once I read a sequel of a book I year later. That's right, not much. 


I'm a fighter. I refuse to let this conundrum bring me down. I will read books, and damnit I will remember some of them! Mostly, it's my very favourite series that I remember the most, but even that doesn't work sometimes. So rather than lament about the problem, I seek solutions. 

One solution I found was reading Down The Rabbit Hole's Happily Ever Endings posts. I love these. No seriously, they have saved me so many times. Basically, they are the summaries of endings for books and they, along with some spoilery Goodreads reviews, rescue me from reading a sequel of a book I have no recollection of. Especially since in general I don't like to reread. So they have helped me a lot.

What I'm wondering is if this is common among book readers or am I an anomaly. Do you guys suffer from any type of liber amnesia too? Let us commiserate in the comments!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Review: Quicksilver

Quicksilver (Ultraviolet, #2)

Author: R.J. Anderson
Pages: 314
Publisher: Monarch Books
Source: Review Copy (thanks so very much!)
Synopsis: Back in her hometown, Tori Beaugrand had everything a teenaged girl could want—popularity, money, beauty. But she also had a secret. A secret that could change her life in an instant, or destroy it.

Now she’s left everything from her old life behind, including her real name and Alison, the one friend who truly understood her. She can’t escape who and what she is. But if she wants to have anything like a normal life, she has to blend in and hide her unusual... talents.

Plans change when the enigmatic Sebastian Faraday reappears and gives Tori some bad news: she hasn’t escaped her past. In fact, she’s attracted new interest in the form of an obsessed ex-cop turned investigator for a genetics lab.

She has one last shot at getting her enemies off her trail and winning the security and independence she’s always longed for. But saving herself will take every ounce of Tori’s incredible electronics and engineering skills—and even then, she may need to sacrifice more than she could possibly imagine if she wants to be free.

Buy the Book (Amazon /Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide)

Quicksilver by R.J. Anderson is a very interesting read as it is written similarly to Ultraviolet but with a different tone that is executed very well because the overall personality of the book is much more Tori than Allison. I think that's fantastic because these two characters are so different and that should be reflected in their stories.

It didn't take long for Tori to win me over. After returning from space with Allison, Tori has to leave her hometown and friends in an attempt to evade scientists of all kinds and live a semi-normal life. At this point, we don't know very much about Tori beyond Allison's experiences and I was fascinated and excited to get to know her. For good reason too. I really like Tori.

Tori is just a really resourceful, practical person. She's someone who's decisions I can understand and I connected with her as a reader. I think I'd like her in real life too. She's very reserved, and for good reason, but she ends up being well liked by many because she's so good at reading people. Also, the fact that she is an alien is really interesting. It factors into her personality in some ways and some of my favourite details about Tori was when she talked about how her parents raised her. Tori has her issues with her parents but loves them anyway. There were a lot of scenes in which you see a family just trying it make a hard situation work.

I haven't talked much about Milo but I adore the guy. Milo is great in so many ways. He's a loyal, genuinely good guy that's all kinds of adorable. He thinks for himself too. For example, even though his parents want him to be a doctor, Milo knows that's not the right career path for him so he's planning something different. He doesn't know how to tell his parents this. This is such a tiny piece of information about Milo but I love it because it's something so many people around me are dealing with. Also, Milo is Korean Canadian so he brings some diversity into the book and some of the issues people have with that (which I loved even more).

Like Ultraviolet, Quicksilver's plot is like an avalanche. It starts slow but picks up speed as it goes along. Although this book doesn't feel slow. It's the strangest thing- I'm so into the story and trying to figure out what will happen next. The ending, I thought, was satisfying. One personal note is that I think the plot in Ultraviolet is stronger but the characters in Quicksilver are stronger. It's a wash because the plot is interesting; it's just that I read this book to know what will happen next to Tori and Milo, not to figure out the mystery. Who knows what others think though.

Once again a solid read. These books are different from what's out there and I like them a lot. I'm curious to see what's next for R.J. Anderson. Very deserving of 4 stars,


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Review: Ultraviolet

Ultraviolet (Ultraviolet, #1)

Author: R.J. Anderson
Pages: 416
Publisher: Orchard
Source: For Review
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Alison has been sectioned in a mental institute for teens, having murdered the most perfect and popular girl at school. But the case is a mystery: no body has been found, and Alison’s condition is proving difficult to diagnose. Alison herself can’t explain what happened: one minute she was fighting with Tori—the next she disintegrated. Into nothing. But that’s impossible. Right?

Buy the Book (AmazonBuy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide)

Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson is all kinds of impressive. The story is incredibly original but I think my favourite part about this book is the fact that it's a fascinating book to read. Not just the overall story but the individual chapters were filled with enriching details.

 It's incredibly rare for me to mention the presentation of a book in a review but I have to say something this time because I was so impressed. It begins with the beautiful cover. It's gorgeously metallic in person and my copy of the book was small, compact, and crisp. Each chapter had a designated colour or basic sensation and all three of the parts of the book were separated by a page of black. It ends up looking and feeling really nice and I, like many others, tend to enjoy nice things.

 Now, on to the actual content. One thing that excited me right off the bat was that Ultraviolet is set in northern Ontario. I live in south eastern Ontario and I've never gone to the north but there is something so cool about a book being set in the same country, nonetheless province as you. It doesn't happen too often since not many authors I read write about Canada but there were some cultural things I loved and it's something rare that probably won't mean as much to you as it does to me.

 Ultraviolet begins with Alison waking up in a hospital. Isn't that creepy? She doesn't remember anything, but something terrible has happened and a girl has gone missing, and Alison is the last person to see her. It should also be mentioned that Alison is different. She perceives the world differently; she tastes things in the air, she sees colors from sounds, and the stars sing to her. There is a fair bit of mystery in Ultraviolet and it's great in the sense that for the longest time, you have no idea what type of book this is. Something is not right, and is this wrongness supernatural or just contemporary? You'll never know as even the end leaves the door open. I love the openness and that the author very obviously knew what she was doing when she wrote this book because it comes off as very polished.

Ultraviolet isn't too suspense filled, nor is it an insanely fast paced action read so it doesn't fit my prototype of plots I know I'd love. However, it does something I love even more than a fast plot: character development. As more information is revealed about Alison, I couldn't help but like her even more. Also, most of the book is set in a psych ward so of course that in itself is fascinating enough. There's enough really interesting subplots and interaction with other characters to keep me interested. The ending does whirl by a bit and it throws me out of the loop a bit. There are clues but this book is so open that anything could be interpreted from the details. (Let me know if you guessed the twist in the comments and what you thought of it.)

 I liked the ending. It was surreal in a way but enjoyable and I'm not a usual fan of companion novels but as soon as this book ended I was insanely happy to have gotten a copy of Quicksilver from Monarch Books. 
Some other aspects I enjoyed that won't spoil this book for anyone else includes the fact that Alison likes piano, the flashbacks, and Alison's relationship with her mom. It wasn't the best or most healthy relationship but it was sufficiently complex and the feelings underneath everything rang true.

 All in all, reading Ultraviolet was a cool experience because this book is strong in so many ways. I thought it was solid and never disappointed me. The book is a little bit odd because it's definitely different from most of what's out there but if you give it a chance you could be surprised in a good way. 4 stars,

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