TV Review: Orange is the New Black

Orange is the New Black is a tumblr fav, and I confess to watching the show for the sake of figuring out where all these gifs were coming from (and I was quite interested in the race aspects). I'm currently on "break" from the show, but first I'll explain it for those that haven't watched it.


Piper is quite the privileged girl and her experiences in jail are quite eye opening. Piper is sent to jail for something she did in the past- smuggling something (money? drugs?) for her girlfriend (she says she used to be lesbian). The show is a look at jail and the impact it has on Piper.

Many of Piper's experiences are hilarious just because she is a nice, blond, white lady surrounded by other animalistic women, as some people like Piper's mom see it. Piper eventually admits that she deserves to be in jail just as much as anyone else. That doesn't mean Piper adjusts well. Her experiences are often funny.

The show also follows the other ladies Piper meets in jail, and this is where some of the story really shines. Everyone has their own story and it is sad to see how all these ladies were on the outside. Some stories are of a cyclical nature, and it's not hard to feel sympathetic towards these women.


Orange is the New Black also deals well with diversity. There are many different races and these differences are acknowledged. The beauty and strength of all these women are shown, and it was quite fun to see how they interacted with each other. There is also lots of sexual diversity and that is one of the most heartbreaking storylines.

The show is on Netflix and every episode has its own story loop. There does not seem to be a massive overarching plot, and this is where Orange is the New Black stalled for me. I like longer storylines and while I did enjoy the humour and exploring the lives of all the different women, I really would have liked a bigger storyline. I guess I'm not the type for a comedy. Still, Orange is the New Black is pretty good, and I enjoyed watching it regardless, even if it didn't draw me in overall.

-P.E.

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Cover Wars: Champions of 2014 Edition

It is the end of 2014 which means that Cover Wars has gone through another successful year! And now, as we look back at the year that was, we should also remember all the amazing covers that managed to win a Cover Wars weekly vote. And here they are!



Gates of Thread and Stone won an insane seven times, and Winterspell won 5 times. The third place covers all tied with three wins. I've copy pasted the full tally if you're interested. 


Cover Wins


Gates of Thread and Stone 7
Winterspell 5
Heart of Betrayal 3
Tell Me You Love Me 3
They All Fall Down 3
The Heir 2
Crimson Bound 2
The Walls Around Us 2
Lois Lane: Fallout 2
Frostfire 2
A Thousand Pieces of You 2
Pointe  2
Sublime 2
Rogue Wave 1
Unspeakable 1
Made For You 1
This Shattered World  1
Witch Fall 1
Kiss Kill Vanish 1
Mortal Danger 1
Milayna 1
Everything Leads to You 1
Red Rising 1
Feather Bound 1
Some Quiet Place  1
Song of Blood and Stone 1


Congratulations to every cover that won a round, and this year was a phenomenal year in covers. That being said, 2015 is going to rock. Thanks for voting in Cover Wars everyone! And what was your favourite Cover Wars 2014 cover?

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Cover Reveal: Queen of Tomorrow



QUEEN OF TOMORROW by Sherry D. Ficklin

A Stolen Empire Novel, Book 2
The Queen Arrives on July 14, 2015
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 start to look up. As a new day dawns, Catherine 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 that try to depose the Empress Elizabeth and put the young Prince Ivan on her throne, Catherine soon finds herself in the middle of a war brewing between her beloved Prussia and her new empire. While navigating 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, Catherine glimpses a future of happiness, only to see it vanish 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, Catherine must 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.

ADD QUEEN OF TOMORROW TO YOUR TBR LIST!

Queen of Tomorrow


This cover is by far one of my favourites. I am super excited to be using it for Cover Wars because it is so luxurious and sultry. It also is a bit of an escalation from the "purity" of the Queen of Someday cover, which makes a lot of sense when you consider the story. There is also some nice continuity with the same wavy curls and the gradient and shadow on the font. In any case, I love it!

READ THE FIRST BOOK TODAY:
Before she can become the greatest empress in history, fifteen-year-old Sophia will have to survive her social-climbing mother’s quest to put her on the throne of Russia—at any cost.
Imperial Court holds dangers like nothing Sophie has ever faced before. In the heart of St. Petersburg, surviving means navigating the political, romantic, and religious demands of the bitter Empress Elizabeth and her handsome, but sadistic nephew, Peter. Determined to save her impoverished family—and herself—Sophie vows to do whatever is necessary to thrive in her new surroundings. But an attempt on her life and an unexpected attraction threatens to derail her plans.
Alone in a new and dangerous world, learning who to trust and who to charm may mean the difference between becoming queen and being sent home in shame to marry her lecherous uncle. With traitors and murderers lurking around every corner, her very life hangs in the balance. Betrothed to one man but falling in love with another, Sophie will need to decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to become the empress she is destined to be.
In a battle for the soul of a nation, will love or destiny reign supreme?


PURCHASE QUEEN OF SOMEDAY TODAY!

Mari and I both read Queen of Someday. I enjoyed the story much more than Mari, and you can read my review, and Mari's

ABOUT SHERRY D. FICKLIN



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 The Gods of Fate Trilogy now available from Dragonfly Publishing. Her previously self-published novel After Burn: Military Brats has been acquired by Harlequin and will be released in 2015 with a second book in that series to follow. Her newest YA steampunk novel, EXTRACTED: The Lost Imperials book 1, co-written with Tyler H. Jolley is now available everywhere books are sold and her newest YA novel, Losing Logan, is due for release in 2014 from Clean Teen Publishing.








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Discussion: Seeking Diversity



A discussion between P.E. and Mari.

P.E.: I believe that the idea of needing diverse books is accepted by now. I read a comment somewhere that now, readers should start reading them. So, Mari, do you read diverse books?

MARI: Fascinating subject. I am super pro-diversity and I'm very happy to see diversity as a growing member of the community. I want diverse authors, diverse readers and diverse stories and characters. To answer your question yes and no. I read Outlander which is set in Scotland and features Scottish, English, Spanish and French people. I read I Hunt Killers which features a fantastic black character.

No, I don't or have not read books that are solely "diverse" which I think is slowly catching the meaning "about minorities". Diversity to me means not pushing aside the traditional white character, Caucasian people and characters are awesome and must be in book but what needs to change is the surroundings. Books need to realized that the main character can be of a "diverse" background and still associate with Caucasians. Or we can have Caucasian characters who have a diverse group of friends. It's the representation that is important. I want to read a book and be able to envision someone of my background there as well.

Lastly, I will read what catches my eye and if I should start reading diverse books, then those diverse books better start working for my attention.

P.E.: I'm curious: have you encountered books where white characters are pushed aside? I think it's valid to have books where there are not many white characters just because that is just as realistic as when there are mostly white characters, except much less represented in YA.

I guess what I'm thinking is that a book's marketing is often based on how much money the publisher will spend on sending out review copies and promotional material. Publishers will only promote books if they believe there is a market for them, and I think readers must be active in deliberately seeking out diverse books. What do you think?

MARI: I think readers have shown that they are indeed interested in reading diverse books which is the only responsibility they have in this process. The rest is business, a process of supply and demand. Readers demand it and now the onus is on the publishing companies to find the book, market it, and make it available for readers. If readers don't pick it up then it's a failure in the publishers side. They provided a good that customers didn't enjoy or want. This has nothing to do with the general topic more the specific venture. I think more effort needs to be put into it. And readers should be respected as the consumers they are who should have the highest expectations from the businesses that are supposed to cater to them.

As for books that have pushed whites aside, there are many (Before You by Amber Hart) where white people were pictured as Christian, racist and rich. I think the concept of diversity also owes all races a chance to be different from the stereotype.

P.E.: Yeah, but diversity doesn't mean the stereotypes don't exist. It means they aren't all that there is, which is why racist, Christian, rich white people isn't too unbelievable to me.

And what I'm thinking is that we've all said we want diverse books, but I disagree that we've clearly shown it. I'm thinking of what Natalia Sylvester said in this post about how end of the year book lists show a lack of diversity. Diversity is one of those things that everyone agrees must exist, but it's not like we're going from zero diverse books whatsoever to representative YA. Diverse books have always existed, and we're trying to say we need more of them, but are people actually reading more diverse books?

This is definitely a false equivalent, but maybe it will help clarify my argument: are readers actually seeking out diverse books, or are we those people constantly on diets saying we need to eat healthier, but reverting back to fast food because it's accessible and everywhere? I think it's too simple to blame publishers for the lack of diversity in books. Readers should be reading more diverse books, and if we're not buying it, it ain't happening. Consumers often demand something vocally but put their money towards nothing else. Look at the Toronto Maple Leafs. They are a perennial loser team, and their fans are always angry, but they still make the most money in the NHL and their revenues increase every year.

Personally, I can't say I'm doing all I can to support diverse books. I believe I have read more diverse books than in the past, but that was such a shoddy amount to begin with that I don't feel like it's worth any pride.

Mari: Reflecting on my own end of the year book list, I agree, I could've read more diverse books. But how many have you seen that you are very interested in reading and that are readily available for you to read? Accessibility and interest are important. A perfect diverse book society for me would be seamlessly integrated into all books and not require us to take note of how diverse our reading list is. Diversity is life and just like we don't take note of how many "diverse" friends we have, I would like to do the same with books.

I guess what I'm trying to say is it's a three way road. Publishers, readers and authors have to work together for this transition. Great stories with representative characters have to be written, published and marketed with the help, interest and reviews of the audience. I will try to be more aware but I don't read to change the world. I read to enjoy myself and if a book with no evident diversity offers that for me then that's where my ship sails.

P.E.: I agree in some ways just because I'm not a huge contemporary reader and that's where the majority of diverse books are. I'm looking for more sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal diverse reads. It's hard to find them, but as We Need Diverse Books is growing, the visibility and amount of these titles is also increasing. For example, how good does Song of Blood & Stone look? I think the visibility is where we, as bloggers and members of the book community can come in by supporting the really good diverse books by giving them lots of press.

Books like Pointe, How It Went Down, Otherbound, and even undertones in The Walls Around Us give me hope because these are all books with phenomenal characterization, and diversity is a part of that. I'm looking forward to reading even more diverse books in 2015. Ideally, equal representation is seamless, but right now it isn't, so we need to work to make sure it is.

One idea I've always had is having more books from authors of different countries translated to English so we can read them. It feels like so many books are by Americans or take place in America and the American point of view is incredibly prominent in my reading. Now I want to explore the Chinese point of view, or a Middle Eastern perspective.

What do you think?

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Your Favourite YA Characters as Gingerbread People!

Happy holidays guys! To celebrate, I've drawn gingerbread YA characters. Only, I'm letting you guys guess who is who. Good luck!

1. 


First one is a bit rough. Hmm.

2. 

I'm quite proud of this one!
3. 

4. 


I'm on a roll!



5. 

Picasso got nothing on me. 

6.



7.




So here you have it! Seven different gingerbread YA characters. Guess who they are in the comments! Or if you can't help yourself, just highlight beside the numbers (text is in white). Hope you had fun! Enjoy the holidays!

Solutions


1. Tris Prior
2. Percy Jackson
3. Hermione Granger
4. Katniss Everdeen
5. Augustus Waters
6. Lissa Dragomir
7. Mia 



-P.E.



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Cover Wars: All the Rage vs Song of Blood and Stone

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

The end of the year is wrapping up, and this Cover Wars will be a little different. You will get two weeks to vote because next Tuesday will be the annual, much anticipated Cover Wars yearly roundup that crowns the best covers of 2014. 

Song of Blood and Stone is the last cover to win in 2014, and the New Year will emerge with a battle between this pink perfection and Courtney Summer's dark All the Rage. 


These covers both feature women, cool font, and some sort of special effect- silhouettes for Song of Blood & Stone, blurring for All the Rage. I adore both of them and this one is tough because they both do a lot of the same good things- they have a big, interesting title, they draw the eye, they have a clean, clear colour scheme. It's really a matter of which cover appeals to which reader more. 

So, what do you think? You have two weeks to enjoy and vote!

-P.E.


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TV Review: How to Get Away With Murder

It is 1:33 am and I have come to the conclusion that I need to write a post right this instant because I have been shirking my blog responsibilities, to say the least. Although reading has pretty much not been happening, I have been watching a lot of TV. Something about mindless, lie down on the bed and watch while eating, hands free, etc. So, I figured I would attempt a TV review. Except, things got out of hand because the show I've meaning meaning to review for a while is quite addictive. In fact, I've watched up to the midseason finale. Damn. Don't worry though, I'm not the spoiling type.

I first heard about How To Get Away With Murder when I saw many ads of it on CTV (Canadian TV station). There was a black lady and a chalkboard. I initially wasn't interested because I am ageist when it comes to TV and I don't enjoy shows about people out of my age range (so late teens, early adulthood?) and so I thought the show was about middle aged people, and so I was quite surprised when I saw many friends tweeting about it.

So, I watched the trailer, and lo and behold, young people! And not just young people. The trailer gave me flashbacks to September and my first day of class in a similar auditorium. There was the similar judging of everyone around you, the same awkwardness, the same desire to succeed and uncertainty for the future. And our protagonist, for that first day, was a boy with eyes that remind me of a teddy bear. I have a thing for guys with what I call "teddy bear eyes".

 You see it right? Anyway, I see it and that's all that matters. Wes is adorable and likable and friendly, and genuinely a good person. Through this first encounter in class some of the other significant characters are introduced. The strength of How to Get Away With Murder is definitely in its ability to characterize.

There are several different types of characters and all of them come from different backgrounds. Some are more privileged than others, and I like that this thought was put into the story. Regardless, all these students are ready to start Professor Keating's class on defense attorneys.

Now, let's get back to Ms. Keating. Her character is phenomenal and powerful. As I was debating whether to watch the show, I saw an interview with Viola Davis and Davis' powerful personality jumped out at me. There is a certain confidence and authenticity to Davis as someone completely comfortable in her own skin. She was honest and took the spotlight because she deserved it. Her magnetic personality is part of what made me consider the show, and I'm glad that shines through in her character.

Annalise Keating is a brilliant character. She is an incredibly powerful, successful lady that is always a bit of a mystery for the audience. What I love is that her power does not kill her humanity. She is sympathetic and upset by human emotion sometimes. We see her on the brink and we see the best and worst parts of her. But to her students, she is fearless, strong, and someone they desperately crave to impress.

Annalise Keating is kind of my idol, in a way. She is a wonderful powerful woman and I love seeing her on TV (and I totally misjudged the show from the commercials I saw...).

The other strong aspect has to be the plot. The series takes a case of the day approach but adds overall story arcs to enhance the narrative, and I feel like this is effective. In some cases, it gets a little dry, but because Keating is a teacher it works for her situation.

The basic storyline is seen from the beginning of the show. There is a murder. Who did it? Why? How? None of this is revealed. As the episodes proceed, little snippets will be clarified and this is really the main drama of the story. It's not the only drama; the individual issues are quite compelling as well, but it's this main concept of law students trying to hide a murder that is the root of the show.

I have thus far not mentioned one part of How to Get Away With Murder that you will no doubt notice: the diversity. There are many POC in leading positions with their own storylines. There is a gloriously sexual gay character (who, from what I've seen on Twitter, is the major eye candy of the show!) and the reason I didn't comment too deeply about this diversity is because it's a  natural part of the show. It is not contrived in any way. There are some mentions of race and being gay, but there are also mentions of being rich and white. How to Get Away With Murder is deeply aware of its diversity, and its also deeply aware that it isn't like the show is a shock: this is the norm. So the diversity is there to enjoy without it being the main point of the show. The show seems to acknowledge the fact that its being seen as revolutionary to be very sad, and frankly, I love that there are a lot of different types of people in How to Get Away With Murder.

I genuinely hope more TV would be like this. The show is addictive with wonderful characters, an an intriguing plot and lovely diversity. Now, the only thing left to consider is why aren't you watching it?

Okay, so I lied. there is one more question I have for you all. I have started a bunch of other shows and can totally write reviews of them too (or even watch more episodes!). What do you want reviewed? What do you want recommended? Here is a list of shows I've recently watched the pilot or first bits of the first season of:

Orange Is the New Black (part of season 1)
House of Cards (pilot)
Scandal (pilot)
Orphan Black (pilot, but watching the second episode ASAP).

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Collective Outlander, Library and Manga Book Haul


Outlander series #3-6
Outlander (#3-6) - Diana Gabaldon
So this happened. After my last book haul titled helpfully as A Very Scottish Book Haul, I think this was a given next step. I'm really enjoying this series and actually finished Book 2 last night so I'm dying to dive into Voyager and am glad to have the next few.

Curses and Smoke 
Curses and Smoke - Vicky Alvear Shecter
This ones a library book that I've been meaning to pick up. I love Ancient Rome and Volcanos and Gladiators!!!


I came by these two lovely addition to my bookshelf this week whilst at the library. My total shopping came down to a whooping $2.00 , I'm quite proud :)

Nana - Ai Yazawa 
I read Nana a couple of years ago, I never finished the series but the story has stayed with me and I loved the first volume. Also, Ai Yazawa is one of my favourite mangaka's, I adore her art. She is also the author of Paradise Kiss, another all time favourite.

Godchild - Kaori Yuki
This one was a on the spot pick. I've never heard of it before but the synopsis and art looks good. Should be fun.

-MARI

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Spotlight - Outlander

Outlander- Diana Gabaldon (Outlander #1)

Release Date: July 26, 2005
Age Group: Adult
Pages: 627

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord...1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.
 Goodreads 




Hehe!!



  • -Time travel done right: I am very cautious to time travel because albite liking history, I don't much like the integration of the modern with the old. But with this book both periods are history at this point. Makes for a fantastic read. 

  • -Scotland. The visuals, the brilliance, the gallantry, the rudimentary stable talk, and the kilts... Who can forget the kilts. 

  • -Scottish men. "You are safe," he said firmly. "You have my name and my family, my clan, and if necessary, the protection of my body as well. " 

  • -Political Intrigue. The story moves from post-WW2 to 1740s Scotland in the middle of the battle for Scotland. 

  • -Jamie Fraser -- "Je Suis Pres!" --- Swoon

  • -Phenomenal leading lady, Clare Randall. 

  • -Because I say so? 

  • -Because you are missing out on life without having read it. 

  • -Because I'm dying to share it with people. 

  • -Because... please? 

  • -Ohh also Sam Hueghen is hot.. there that should do it. Should've started with that.


Similar Titles: (Adult historical romances I enjoyed)


Book Trailer:


-MARI

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Cover Wars: Song of Blood and Stone vs The Heart of Betrayal

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 else is there to say but The Heart of Betrayal has been crushing it? Will it continue its path of obliteration against Song of Blood and Stone?


Pink vs blue! The colour schemes are so different but both covers draw the eye with stunning font. Song of Blood and Stone does that really cool silhouette cutout thing, whereas Heart of Betrayal uses the red to pop against the blue to create focus. Both covers are pretty, to say the least. 

Which cover shall win? 

It's up to you to vote! One week remains!



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Discussion: Life and Art



A discussion between P.E. and Mari.

P.E.: I read this article about Thailand and The Hunger Games. In it, people are using the salute from Mockingjay to call for their own freedom. First, do you have any thoughts or initial reactions on this?

Mari: I'm a strong believer in peace and democracy. It's sad that the people of Thailand have to ask for what should be their fundamental rights. I don't know much about the situation in Thailand but I wish them all the best. As for the three finger sign, I think it's fascinating. It shows the power that literature has. This can't be the first time people have taken things from literature and brought them to life. Heck, some argue the cellphone was made from the ideas in Star Wars. Lastly, I think of the power of gestures. One of the most modern examples being the Nazi salute, which has such a negative connotation that doing it is illegal in Germany.

P.E.: When I read the article, I was blown away. You're right that literature has power, but I think that applies to art in general. And the thought that I can read a book like The Hunger Games for fun; I can be emotionally invested in the characters and their battles, yet oblivious to people fighting their own battles in real life... it's scary. How do people look at Western society and not remember the Capitol? The social criticism in The Hunger Games is so astute.

Mari: Definitely, I was too narrow in my wording. Art is culture. Can you elaborate on "The social criticism in The Hunger Games is so astute". Why do you think that?

P.E.: It's mostly when I think of the Capitol. They are obsessed with fun and are out of touch with reality. They see horrible things and fake sorrows because they have trouble believing that other people are actually suffering. They mean well, but they are so lost and oblivious, and their very existence is one of overindulgence that hurts other people. The Hunger Games is a book with a message, but when you look at the Subway partnerships and the merchandise, it is proving its relevance by the way people treat it. It has gone corporate. People watch The Hunger Games and feel sad, but then go on with their lives, utterly ignorant to a lot of the conflict in the world. If anyone has ever blamed the Capitol for the little they do to help the districts, what does that say about the West?

Mari: Quite thought provoking and a little political. I think the reason the Capitol is such a democratic disaster for us is because the districts are its citizens yet they are treated like slaves. The Capitol isn't planning on helping the districts because they are the ones imposing the hurt. I wouldn't compare it so much to the Western effort in the "rest" of the world. In fact that idea is wrong. There is no West and the rest; there needn't be. We Westerners will work to provide the best society possible for ourselves and the future generations but at the same time we have several initiatives going towards helping other countries without interfering in their sovereignty. Unlike the Capitol the West is not the government. Sure there are people who are completely oblivious to the going ons in other parts of the world but its up to them and their priorities. Millions of people will never leave the place they were born in and that's ok. Not everyone has a worldwide view on life.

P.E.: But that's only if you take the criticism worldwide (& I disagree because I do think there is a West, but I don't think this is place to argue that :P) which you could, but it is equally applicable domestically. There are a lot of issues in Canada and the US due to  income inequality. Some people have very little and some people have a lot, and we can't say that is due to the people themselves. Why are there still children hungry in some of the richest countries in the world? Why is racism *still* an issue? I think the criticism of The Hunger Games is that of a society so focused on fun and games that it ignores all its issues, and I think that's a pretty good description of our society.

Art, in general has that capacity, and that's why books about revolutions like The Hunger Games are so relevant. They can open our eyes to the world and systems we live in by making us reconsider what is true and not. After reading The Hunger Games, I started thinking a lot about how distractions and games are used to mask deeper issues in societies, and this is an idea I believe in quite strongly because it has been developed through a book.

Art can do that sometimes, and I feel like any one using Katniss' salute is sending a very powerful message.




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WoW - What If

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

What If

December 8, 2014





Sometimes it takes letting go of the past to find out who you want to be.

During his semester abroad, Griffin Reed almost gave his heart to a girl who loved someone else. Lesson learned. Now he’s home, where following in his father’s footsteps may not be what he wants, but it’s what his parents expect. It might be taking the easy road, but he doesn’t see a way out.

Something that could have killed Maggie Kendall took away the person she used to be instead. Her condition makes her dependent on sticky notes, photos, and medication just to get through each day. The last thing she needs is a distraction—or someone new to disappoint.

What they refuse to see is they are perfect for each other. Maggie makes Griffin want to be a better man, and he makes her believe a future is possible. But these two have to find a way to share the secrets ripping them apart, if they’re ever going to have a chance at happiness.
 
I'm cheating... this one came out on Monday...
I still thinks its awesome and since I'm in the midst of finals I'm still waiting for it!

 What are You Waiting For?

-MARI 

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Cover Wars: Tonight the Streets are Ours vs Heart of Betrayal

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.

Heart of Betrayal is, without a doubt, on a roll. It has been the winning cover for quite some time now, and it's making a strong bid for an All-Star cover designation. Can it win one more battle, this time against Leila Sales' new book?


Purplish/bluish colours are totally in right now, and both these covers bring on the intrigue. I love their mystery and their romance. The fog and drama of Heart of Betrayal and the glittery hope of Tonight the Streets Are Ours are beautiful examples of evocative covers. 

Which cover should win Cover Wars?




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Review: Whatever Life Throws at You

Author: Julie Cross
Date of Publication: October 7, 2014
Pages: 320
Source: Bought
Life loves a good curveball…

Seventeen-year-old Annie Lucas's life is completely upended the moment her dad returns to the major leagues as the new pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals. Now she's living in Missouri (too cold), attending an all-girls school (no boys), and navigating the strange world of professional sports. But Annie has dreams of her own—most of which involve placing first at every track meet…and one starring the Royals' super-hot rookie pitcher.

But nineteen-year-old Jason Brody is completely, utterly, and totally off-limits. Besides, her dad would kill them both several times over. Not to mention Brody has something of a past, and his fan club is filled with C-cupped models, not smart-mouthed high school “brats” who can run the pants off every player on the team. Annie has enough on her plate without taking their friendship to the next level. The last thing she should be doing is falling in love.

But baseball isn't just a game. It's life. And sometimes, it can break your heart…
 
Review:
Some might describe me as the farthest thing from athletic but I stand by my 6th-grade fame as the captain of the girls silver medal soccer and volleyball teams. I’m also a fan of hockey and a tennis coach though I can’t say that I’m that good at any of those… Either way, sports have been a part of my life despite my body’s inclination at being bad at it (yes I’m diverting blame) hence, sports books are some of my favourites.

I love the characters in sports books. They are always so determined, so hungry for the win, so dedicated and these are all qualities I value. I’m also a little starstruck by people who have the skill and luck to make it into the major leagues. Whatever Life Throws at You has a nice combination of all of this. I get my peek into a Major League Baseball life and I get my driven characters.

Annie starts out as a fun character. Within the first few chapters she has already been caught red-handed in the team locker room and hilarity ensues. She is charming and the charm appeals to other characters and readers. Annie is a long distance runner, one of the best, and it is obvious that she is very intent on winning. Sometimes the win is all she wants which is relatable. But Annie soon also realizes that winning the race might not the most important thing.

Annie's obvious other half is Brody, an up-and-coming, off limits MLB player with a rough past. He starts out as a cliché, but he proves to be otherwise. He is smart, dedicated and caring. I enjoyed his relationship with Annie’s dad, his pitching coach. I can see young players bonding with their coaches who are their to help them and who believe in them.

Whatever Life Throws At You does have its weaknesses. It’s not high literature, it just good fiction, it’s amusing. There are rough patches with some under developed characters and plots of convenience but they don’t take too much away from the enjoyment of the book. 

One thing that did bother be is the huge taboo and over analysis of Annie and Brody’s age difference of a whopping 2 years… I realize the 2 years was the difference between legal and illegal but it could have been handled more maturely especially on Annie’s behalf who at some point acted quite immaturely. 

I picked this book up on a whim, I read the synopsis and was engrossed. My gut seemed to be right because I devoured this book in a couple of sittings and despite the problems I noted in this book. They might bother other readers but for me they didn’t pose an issue. I noticed their existence but my enjoyment of the story was far greater than any annoyance. 

Whatever Life Throws At You is fun. I’m a fan of sport literature and Miranda Kenneally, anyone who identifies with one of those two might want to give this one a go. I’ll be adding Julie Cross to my authors list.


-MARI


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WoW - Saint Anything

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

Saint Anything

May 5, 2015





Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.
Do I have to explain myself? It's a Sarah Dessen book...
I haven't read all her books because not all of them appeal to me but I'l give this one ago :)

 What are You Waiting For?

-MARI 

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Cover Wars: Seven Days vs. The Heart of Betrayal

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.

This week's covers are very different from each other, but both are great representations of the books they represent. 


Seven Days is  one of those covers I want in my hands so I can turn it around and read everything. I loved doing this sort of word art when I was a kid, and something about it is just so cool. Also, I'm a pretty big fan of a lime-type yellow and black colour scheme. The Heart of Betrayal is intrigue and suspense. There's fog, sinister branches, bridges, and a girl in a red dress. The font is super cool, and the more I look at the cover, the more I wonder... 

Now it's up to you guys to vote! Remember that this is December, which means the January Cover Wars round up should come soon with all the Cover Wars all-stars!



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Movie Review: Interstellar


This is my favourite of the trailers.

I enjoyed this movie substantially. The film's emotional and philosophic/scientist roots beneath the excellent action and CGI space effects resulted in an excellent theatrical experience.

First, I walked into the movie having not really watched a trailer, nor read any informational piece about Interstellar. I knew it was good, and it had something to do with space, but that's about it. With that, I remember speculating with a friend about what was happening. 



Especially in the beginning, the plot seems not slow, but like it's unraveling with savour. The story knows not to dump information and it does a good job of building the foundation of the world slowly, but by maintaining interest. It does my favourite thing: establish an emotional bond to the characters that will be revisited throughout the film. 

Cooper and his daughter Murphy live in a world being consumed by dust. The Earth is almost uninhabitable and this is perhaps the end. Obviously, we know it's not. Cooper's wife seems to have died and he's left with his two children and his wife's father. Cooper loves his family, but it's really Murph and Cooper's relationship that shines through. 

Mackenzie Foy as Murphy does a good job capturing her character's curiosity, but also her immaturity as a child. She is sarcastic and shy, but also resilient, and she makes her character quite relatable and lovely. I thought she did appear a little older than she was supposed to be in several scenes, but she would win me over again with a pout, or a smile. 

Matthew McConaughey was phenomenal as Cooper. He was restless, angry with the world, but quite capable. His character was always warring with ambition and who he needed to be versus the family he could never leave. There is one part, later on, where it hurt me to see his face as the grief was palpable. 

I can't speak of one acting performance that I didn't like, and in saying that, let me clarify: this film's strength was not its acting. The acting was not a weakness in the slightest, but the truth strength was the storytelling, the amazing script, and the production value. 

The production was cinematic and beautiful. It had all the beautiful and quite scary space shots that you could ever want. The music built and assuaged tension subtly, but I think one of my favourite elements was the use of silence. How often do you have a scene with complete silence for a few moments? Interstellar used the silence to its advantage several times (although I may have ruined it once by cursing) and I think Christopher Nolan's grasp of tension and his vision for the film shined through.



The story was complete with many peaks and valleys, some of them rather unexpected, and I said earlier that I teared up several times because what happened was too horrible not to. The weakest part to Interstellar was the ending, which is a mindfuck because what's happening is unclear.

Actually, that is a flaw, or recurring theme, because it's not necessarily a flaw if it was introduced and obviously intentional. Interstellar prided itself on being a "big" story that did deal with abstract and philosophical ideas. There was a sense of purpose and destiny well employed throughout the entire story, and it was like what happened was literally "written in the stars". If you don't like those types of storylines, you may not like Interstellar, but I love them. 

After finishing Interstellar, all I want to do is curl up with my laptop and listen to some Carl Sagan, and then perhaps research space a little more. I highly recommend Interstellar and it's the best movie I've seen in a long time. 

-P.E.

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