Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Furthermore - Tahereh Mafi

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

This week I'm waiting on Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

Tahereh Mafi
Series:  Furthermore, #1
Release Date: Unknown
Publisher: Dutton Children's Books
Waited on by: Noor

Julie Strauss-Gabel at Dutton Children's Books has acquired two novels byTahereh Mafi, author of the Shatter Me series. The first book, Furthermore, marks the author's middle-grade debut; it tells the story of two unique worlds and their unlikely champion: 12-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow. When Alice's father disappeared from Ferenwood he took nothing but a ruler with him, and after almost six years, she embarks on a journey to find him. A publication date has not yet been set; Jodi Reamer of Writers House negotiated the deal for world English rights. 

As many of you might know, Tahereh Mafi is the author of the Shatter Me series, which I have waiting to be read somewhere in my bookshelves. I follow her on Twitter and not only does she sound like a fantastic person, but I have heard great things about her writing and can't wait to delve into something by her. Even though it's aimed for younger readers than me, I'm still really excited for Furthermore, especially because I know I won't really have a chance to delve into Shatter Me for a while so if it comes out before then, I can get a taste of her writing in a lighter read, and if I do get around to it, I can be even more excited to read her work. Although not much about the book or the plot is known -- she only released this information just over a week ago -- from what we do know, it looks very interesting. Also, her name is a shoutout to Alexander McQueen which is pretty rad. I can't wait until this book, seeing authors expand beyond their huge series is one of my favorite things so I'm very excited!

- Noor

What are YOU waiting on?
Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Review: The Lightning Thief Musical - Theatreworks USA

The Lightning Thief
Theatreworks USA
Based on: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Genre: Musical, Action, Comedy
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: So perfect

I first found out about Theatreworks USA's adaptation of The Lightning Thief around May through a Syracuse Drama page since not one but TWO Syracuse University alumni are in the show! Orange Mafia forever!!! Anyway, as soon as I heard about it, I knew I had to go - there was absolutely no doubt in my mind. A Percy Jackson musical?! I was sold. And so I waited several months until I finally got to see the show last Thursday!

Theatreworks USA's production of The Lightning Thief is part of their Free Summer Theatre campaign, designed to allow children to experience theatre for free! The way it works is that the general public can go to the theatre before the show to get free tickets. It's as simple as that! (For more ticketing information, check out the website link above.) Since tickets are distributed starting an hour before the first show, I went to the theater about two hours before the show. The venue, Lucille Lortel Theatre, is conveniently located a block away from the Christopher St PATH station in Downtown New York City and it was super easy to get to. I also had absolutely no problem getting tickets (I was first in line) and I even got front row tickets!

After anxiously awaiting the start of the show, I was pleasantly surprised by the pre-show announcement. At most theaters, there is an announcement prior to the start of the show asking that guests silence their cell phones, refrain from photography, etc. Imagine my surprise when I got an announcement from none other than Mr. D warning the audience that monsters are attracted to cell phones and noisy children. At that moment, I knew the show would absolutely capture the spirit of the book.

After that, I continued to have so much fun watching the show. There are six actors in the show who take on all the different roles and you could tell that they were all having a great time as well. It's such a fun, high energy show from the opening song all the way to the closing. I couldn't help laughing non-stop because it was so funny! The feeling of the show actually reminded me a bit of A Very Potter Musical.

I'm going to apologize in advance for the next part of my review because as a Theatre Design major, I couldn't help but include my thoughts on the design.

The set of the musical was pretty minimalistic but the way it transformed throughout the show was really cool. The main part of the set is a few columns in the back with scaffolding, designed to look like the museum that Percy visits in the beginning of the book. The scaffolding was really cool because it had a bunch of notches for the actors to climb up and down, and it was also low enough that they could easily jump down. I also really enjoyed the way the props were done! My favorite aspect was the way they made the water shoot out when Percy used his powers. While one might think it would have been something literal like a water gun, it was much more genius than that!

The costumes were great as well! I thought the costume designer did a great job with implying the mystical characters in a way that was quick for the actors to change into. For example, Mrs. Dodds was easily transformed into a fury by pulling her sweater over her head to reveal a scary face on the inside and the other actors bringing her wings. Some other great costumes were Grover as a satyr with fuzzy legs, Chiron as a centaur with a cool tail and built out foam leg muscles, and, my favorite, the Oracle!

In addition to the set scaffolding having notches for the actors to climb on, it also had strips of light down the front. The way the strips lit up added a very mystical feeling to many of the scenes. I also really liked the way small, portable lights were used to create other aspects on stage, such as motorcycle lights.

Overall, everything about the show was incredible! While the movie adaptation strayed a lot from the book, I felt the musical was as true to the book as an hour long musical could be. There were a bunch of kids at the show and they all loved it - even my mother, who has never read the books and has only ever seen the movie, loved it! I highly recommend seeing this show if you live close enough to New York City. Don't miss out! Go see it before it closes on August 22nd (Full schedule here). Otherwise, check out information on how to get The Lightning Thief National Tour to come to your area here!

- Kiersten

What book would you love to see as a musical?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Triple ARC Review: Storm Siren - Mary Weber

Storm Siren
Mary Weber
Series: Storm Siren #1
Genre: High Fantasy, Young Adult
Release Date: August 19, 2014
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 Stars
Word Rating: A-
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Read this now.

Holy crap

It's rare that I am so moved by a book of this genre, where the tropes and tricks are so well documented that it's become a chore to read the jacket covers. But Mary Weber, Unicorn Slayer, you have done me in with realistic and heart-wresting characters, your winding, well-orchestrated plot, punctual development, fantastic tension and suspension . . . Storm Siren is just textbook good. Since, as usual with good books, there's too much to talk about, I'll focus on a couple of things. Let's go.

Much of this, I think, has to do with the main character, Nym, our eyes and ears in the world of Faelen. Nym, at first, is shown to be effortlessly snarky, entirely contrarian, and with steel skin and an iron soul. This isn't entirely relateable for a first person POV novel, and relateability is usually the most effective way to bind a reader to wanting more. But Weber holds our attention -- with Nym's dark life as a slave girl (who shouldn't actually exist) sold fourteen times in a kingdom that's on the brink of destruction -- just long enough to reveal Nym's massive heart.

There's a scene early on in the novels where Nym, who is used to killing others with her powers, is carving a bird onto her left arm right after her owner has another ownership circle branded into her right arm.
"For a shame-filled moment, I wish [the bird] would free itself and carry me from what I am. But it doesn't. It just bleeds." (Weber, 71)
Nym is seriously damaged. She's even killed her parents with her powers. This type of character is usually not the protag in a High Fantasy and I like it, I like that instead of glimpses of shame and flickers of a fractured soul, there is an in-depth narrative about this type of suffering which has become a staple (come on, tell me who doesn't like a broken Will Herondale or, hell, Batman?).

Honestly there's a hell of a lot to say about Nym, especially on her development, and especially all of her scenes with Eogan, the first person she noticed caring about her, but in terms of characters, Nym is nearly overshadowed by the rest of the cast.

Breck, for example, is comedy gold in a world of Nym's haughty, dry wit. As funny as she is blind. And gods, I can hear her accent through the text. Weber's greatest gift probably lies herein, in the strength and depth of her secondary characters. Breck, who is overconfident and bold yet a servant girl, who eats as if she is going to starve and thinks the world of her brother. There's just so much to her, and Eogan, and Colin, etc. etc. etc.

At first the plot is a bit elusive, and it takes a bit of time for Eagon and Adora to sort Nym out and for the threat of Born (the nation currently attacking Faelen) to be a more immediate threat, but once things get going they do not stop.

The social issues like serfdom, racism, militarism, etc. are integrated quite nicely and with a contrarian and angsty protag, the issues are fleshed out just enough to make a point but without going full-rant. For example:
"I clench my teeth. She beat Breck without any idea whether I'd followed the rules or not." (180).
This book is just so damn good.

I have a couple of small gripes are with the philosophical bits where Nym's consolation is that she was Created for a Purpose with her great gift when she's already been consoled and begun the healing process with Eogan and Colin. That weird kind of false reconciliation (she still has to deal with the fact that now this Creator psychologically wrecked her for 17 years) was unnecessary in the face of the deep connections she was forming. The almost Game of Thrones level destruction of my emotional state around the last couple of chapters really makes those one or two moments forgettable.

Anyhow, this book is a refreshing must for any fantasy lover.

- Marlon

Noor's Review
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Enticing 

It's been a while since I've picked up a fantasy novel like this and before I started reading, I definitely had some reservations. A lot of times, authors will throw the world in the reader's face all at once like a tidal wave, or other times set up the story with pages and pages of background information before getting to anything interesting. I didn't know if this would read like one of those not-so-well put together fantasy novels that I personally suffer through. I'm very pleased to say that Storm Siren definitely lived up to its potential as a novel and Mary Weber has won me over onto this series and is definitely an author I'll be keeping tabs on in the future.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book right from the get-go. Nym, our protagonist, is our first-person narrator and I absolutely love the way the story is told through her eyes. Even in the beginning, we can see that she is tough as nails and I really enjoyed seeing her get fleshed out as she continued to face her trials and meet certain people along the way. We can see her soften up in some places, while we understand why her heart is hardening in others. You know when you have clay and at first the block is hard and firm and you pull and squeeze it until it starts to give and become more pliable? Well, Nym started out harsh and rough and as once event after another unfolded, she began to adapt and change and you really see it come out in her personal growth. She was just a really well-written character who I found myself increasingly wanting to know more about as the novel progressed.

I also loved the way Nym's emotions were so raw and powerful, and it really helped set the scene for so many parts of the book. Take this part in the very beginning when she uses her abilities for the first time in the book:
"The familiar crackle rips along my veins, and then the pain pierces through as my muscles stiffen and coil inside me like the air above. Igniting. My body, both master and slave to the elements. And I don't know how to breathe, how to stop it, how to be anything but this thing fracturing the sky."
There's much more surrounding the scene but this was really one of my favorite parts and it was only 12 pages in so I knew I was in for a good book. For a protagonist who speaks so straightforwardly, Nym has so much force behind her words. I can feel all the power and intensity rushing out of her and I can tell that she is a character who experiences things very strongly and her writing made it so all those emotions hit you full blast in the face as you're reading so you can feel them too.

Speaking of which, this book was very well written, which was also a huge factor in why I loved it so much. Mary Weber has some serious writing skills and she put them to good use. The way she describes things really hooked me onto this book because she isn't overly descriptive but in a few, direct statements manages to capture the essence of everything she is trying to describe, which I think is amazing. Every statement has purpose and carries such a heavy weight and it's really hard not to fall in love with her writing when she phases things so well.

Every character in this book, even the bad ones, were exceptionally well-developed and really helped drive the story. Everything was integrated in such interesting ways and I really can't wait for the next book in the series because that ending definitely left me wanting much more!

- Noor

Amrutha's Review
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Genuinely phenomenal 

I am so SO glad I got this book at BEA 2014 and even more glad I kept reading read this book: and the reason I'm so happy is that I usually ignore my instincts about books. I am usually able to tell whether I'd like a book between the blurb and first couple chapters, but I continue reading regardless of how I feel about it. It is times like these that make me so glad I kept going with this book, even though it isn't really my style or genre (LOL edit: just read Noor's and Marlon's reviews, I'm glad we all have the same thoughts on this).

Let us talk about Nym, our protagonist. She is so hardcore - she's in the category of "teens with superpowers" as so many other YA protagonists are. However this book is filled with so many plot twists that it isn't the typical easy-to-predict-"wowza"-"I got superpowers" novel. Nym as a narrator is so descriptive and impassioned that Weber made it incredibly easy to see the world through her eyes. Also she's pretty sassy, which I love (who doesn't like a little bit of sass in their protagonists, especially in the 17 year olds girls who aren't even supposed to be alive).

The writing in this book was just straight up fantastic. The way Weber expresses Nym's voice, with all of the emotion that every 17 year old often feels like they are feeling, but placing it in a realm that is expertly built (seriously, there was just the right amount of description for building Faelen), makes the book so fascinating to me. The plot was not only fantastic, but the side description is really what made the book (this sounds a little strange coming from me, because I usually don't like patches of description, but this was done so well that I have to praise it).

Unlike Noor, I didn't love the opening of the book: it was a little dry. Do not let that stop you from reading this, because as soon as a real threat approaches Faelen, the plot picks up so quickly (but quickly in the way that makes you want to glue the book to your hands so you never have to put it down, not in the "this moves so fast that the characters aren't even developing" kind of way.

Also: Colin and Breck - even though these two are just supporting characters, they are so well constructed. Like Marlon mentioned, Breck's snark with Nym's PoV really come together to lighten the story with some humor. Even the tiniest details of this book were sorted out by Weber: she wasn't one of those authors who concentrates mainly on establishing a realm or on a budding romance or on the growth of the main character. Rather, she works with all of these aspects, and it really provides for an awesome book (cannot wait for the next one!).

This is yet another note to self never to judge a book by the blurb or first few chapters or the genres I have pigeonholed it into. This was absolutely fantastic and I can't wait for Weber's next book!

- Amrutha

Have you ever had to keep a huge secret?
Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Stuffed Animal Saturday [14]

Stuffed Animal Saturday is a meme that we post here at We Live and Breathe Books to showcase the book we're currently reading with one of our favorite stuffed animals and discuss our stuffed animal's opinion (well, it's really our opinion, but that's besides the point). We hope you enjoy our quirky feature as much as we enjoy writing it!

Over the past few days, Boo, Buddy, and I read A Little Something Different by Sally Hall!

So Far: Boo, Buddy, and I have actually already finished A Little Something Different! We all thought it was really adorable and unique because the way the story is told. We don't want to go into all the details since I'll be reviewing it soon but it's the story of Gabe and Lea falling in love and all the people around them who want them to get together!

A Sneak Peek: Some of Boo and Buddy's favorite narrations from the book are the ones from the Bench and the Squirrel!'s points of view. They had trouble deciding which one they wanted me to include, but they decided to share the first of Squirrel!'s entries in the book. Since this is coming from an ARC, the passage may not be exactly like this in the finished version.
I notice the girl eating peanuts. I love nuts.
     Nuts, nuts, nuts.
     I hop across the grass, trying to be as cute as possible, hoping that maybe if I'm lucky she'll drop one. And her loss will be my gain.
     She sees me and smiles.
     I'm in! Hooray!
     She purposefully drops a peanut on the ground and I eat it up.
     Then she drops one on the bench next to her.
     Is this a trap?
     I take my time eating the first one, watching her, trying to see if she has a net or a cage or a brown bag that she's going to capture me with.
     I decide it's all clear, so I hop up on the bench.
     She watches two boys walking away across the lawn.
     "Do you think they're brothers?" she asks. " They have the same eyes, and maybe the same nose; it's hard to see from here."
     I sit up straight. She's talking to me. No one ever talks to me. Oh, how I wish I knew human and could answer her.
     Instead I nibble on my peanut.
Boo and Buddy hope you enjoyed this passage as much as they did! Look out for my review of A Little Something Different in the next few weeks!

- Kiersten

Are you and your stuffed animal reading anything interesting? 
Let us know in your own Stuffed Animal Saturday!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Guest Post + Giveaway: Phantom's Dance - Lesa Howard

Phantom's Dance
Lesa Howard
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Retelling

About the book:

Christine Dadey’s family uprooted their lives and moved to Houston for her to attend the prestigious Rousseau Academy of Dance. Now, two years later, Christine struggles to compete among the Academy’s finest dancers, her parents are on the brink of divorce, and she’s told no one about her debilitating performance anxiety and what she’s willing to do to cope with it.

Erik was a ballet prodigy, a savant, destined to be a star on the world’s stage, but a suspicious fire left Erik’s face horribly disfigured. Now, a lonely phantom forced to keep his scars hidden, he spends his nights haunting the theater halls, mourning all he’s lost. Then, from behind the curtain he sees the lovely Christine. The moldable, malleable Christine.

Drawn in by Erik’s unwavering confidence, Christine allows herself to believe Erik’s declarations that he can transform her into the dancer she longs to be. But Christine’s hope of achieving her dreams may be her undoing when she learns Erik is not everything he claims. And before long, Erik’s shadowy past jeopardizes Christine’s unstable present as his obsession with her becomes hopelessly entangled with his plans for revenge.

Purchase links:

About the author:

Lesa Howard lives in the greater Houston area where she works as writer-in-residence for the nonprofit organization Writers in the Schools. But her students know her as Lesa Boutin. Her latest YA novel is PHANTOM'S DANCE, a modern retelling of Gaston Leroux's PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. She has two books written under the name Lesa Boutin: AMANDA NOBLE, ZOOKEEPER EXTRAORDINAIRE, and AMANDA NOBLE, SPECIAL AGENT. Visit Lesa at or contact her at

Author links:

The Making of a Phantom

When I was a teenager I wanted to read adult novels. Then when I became an adult all I wanted to read or write were teen novels. Go figure. But whether as a teen or as an adult, my favorite kinds of books have always been of the epic, sweeping saga variety—with a dash of tragic romance, of course. So it should come as no surprise to people who know me that I would undertake a reimagining of Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera. But the finished product is what has been surprising.

I knew I wanted to set Phantom's Dance in real-time Houston. In the beginning, my Phantom, Erik, was to be a young homeless man whose face had been disfigured in a gang fight. And rather than wear a mask, I dressed him in an over-sized hoodie that he kept pulled low on his head to cover his scars, and I wanted him to live in the labyrinth of tunnels running beneath the streets of Houston. But early on, I scrapped the idea of the tunnels. It just didn't work. I needed him beneath the theater. Then there was the hoodie. I really wanted to hang onto that hoodie. Nothing says 21st century like a worn-out old hoodie. But again, no matter what I did it simply didn't work. So, yeah, my phantom got a mask.

The setting and clothing weren't the only things that changed. Christine became a ballet dancer instead of an opera singer like that of Leroux's original protagonist. I don't remember how I settled on that, but I met a ballerina with the Houston Ballet who was an enormous help, and I toured the Ben Stevenson Academy where I learned a lot about the lives of ballerinas and the pursuit of their art.

These were the jumping off points for Phantom's Dance, along with the addition of current technology and the phantom's use of it. And without giving anything away, I will say that my Erik is like, yet different, from the original. He's like Leroux' s Erik in that he's a gifted genius in not only dance but as an all-around artist. I think he's different because of the view we get into his life by reading the story from Christine's first person point-of-view. There were things about the original's overall character, whether in books, movies, and plays, that I think were overlooked, and these were things it turned out I couldn't ignore. So whether you're a fan or have never given the Phantom a second thought, I hope you enjoy my version, Phantom's Dance.

- Lesa Howard


Lesa Howard would like to share a signed copy of Phantom's Dance and a $10 Amazon Gift Card with one lucky winner!

Just fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter! The giveaway is open to US and Canada only and runs through August 14th. The winner will be contacted shortly after the giveaway ends and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. We Live and Breathe Books is not responsible for any prizes that are lost in the mail. Good luck! :)

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

ARC Review: The Young World - Chris Weitz

The Young World
Chris Weitz
Series: The Young World Trilogy, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Post Apocalyptic
Release Date: July 29, 2014
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Pretty good
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

A few months ago when I was still super busy with school, I went on a ridiculous requesting binge on Netgalley and The Young World was one of those requests. After requesting all those books and hearing back about most of them within the week, I completely forgot that I requested The Young World. In fact, when I saw the advertisements for The Young World at BEA in the showroom bathrooms (Flush... while you still can), I didn't even recognize it (but I thought the ads were absolutely hilarious). So imagine my complete surprise when I received an email from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers via Netgalley telling me that I was approved for The Young World. It was probably more exciting because I didn't even remember requesting it, but that's besides the point.

The Young World is about a society in which a Sickness kills all the adults and children, leaving a world filled with teenagers, and when the teenagers reach adulthood, they also catch the Sickness and die. So basically everyone is dying and there isn't much hope for the world because all the adults who knew how to work things like electricity and water are all dead and no one really understands how to combat this virus. I know, sounds like the ideal living situation to me too.

The story is told through alternating perspectives between Jefferson and Donna and it follows their motley group's adventure through New York City to find a cure for the Sickness. I definitely felt like the two different voices were distinct and I never got confused about which character was narrating. Between Jeff, Donna, and the rest of their group, there is a really wide variety of characters: Jeff is half Japanese, SeeThrough is a Chinese immigrant, BrainBox has some sort of behavioral disorder, and Peter is African American and gay. Obviously the characters are so much more than those descriptions, but I really felt like the diverse group was a good representation of the type of people who would be living in downtown New York City, and I appreciated how Weitz doesn't make their differences a huge plot point.

Obviously since the narrators are Jeff and Donna, most of the story focuses on them. Jefferson is a character who is shown as a leader from the very beginning. Besides being a leader, Jeff is also a big thinker. Throughout the story, it's very clear that surviving isn't really enough for him - he wants to save the world and raise it anew, better than before. Jeff's narration is consumed by a lot of his big thoughts. It seemed pretty clear to me through Jeff's point of view that Weitz has a lot to say about society and it's not very subtle; I felt like there were pages of social commentary in between the actual plot actions. While I did enjoy reading those thoughts and felt it shaped Jefferson's character, it definitely slowed down the book a lot due to its abundance.

While Jeff was the big thinker, Donna was more of a wistful thinker. Sure, she wanted to survive and figure out how not to die when she becomes an adult but she mostly wished she could have back all the things that she took for granted before the Sickness. Donna is so headstrong and stubborn throughout the whole story. She's moody, she doesn't know how she feels, she's jaded, and she's tired - she feels like a girl who's tired of the world ending. Donna was such a foil to Jeff and seeing them interact throughout the story was more dynamic because of that.

When I got to the end of The Young World, I felt like everything that happened was so whirlwind and crazy. It felt a bit rushed and confusing but I can see how it adds to the confusion of Jeff and Donna at the time. Even though the ending isn't really a cliffhanger since the characters are not in immediate danger, the end of The Young World left me craving more of the story.

Overall, while I don't really have anything bad to say about The Young World and I was pulled into the story throughout the read, I wouldn't say that I love it by any means. The Young World is a good read - it's filled with action and adventure, some romance, and the apocalypse. There is so much great gallows humor and Weitz definitely had some deep thoughts on society. I recommend The Young World to those who like apocalyptic reads, the urban setting of New York City, and some interesting, bigger thoughts about the world.

- Kiersten

What post-apocalyptic books have you read recently?
Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review: The Future of Us - Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

The Future of Us
Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
Series: N/A
Genre: Romance, Young Adult
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Incredibly disappointing
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Geez, was this disappointing. The blurb of this book was literally incredible: two kids log onto Facebook, 15 years in the future, before it has been invented. In their 1990s state of minds, they are in awe of a social media website, and even more in awe of their futures. Plus, the main characters are a guy and girl who were previously best friends (uhm that is the foundation for a great romance right there). Wouldn't you want to read it? I certainly did, it seemed like such an original and creative idea, and I stand by the fact that this book is conceptually great.

Therein lies the problem. This book, while conceptually stellar and all that, lacks execution in literally every sense of the term "lacks execution." 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher and The Earth, My Butt, and Other Round Things by Carolyn Mackler were both fantastic books -- They're both sitting in my basement right now, and they both got a lot of love from me when I read them (albeit, a few years ago, I read these books during my obsessed-with-Meg-Cabot-and-all-other-YA-books-a-middle-schooler-would-like phase). However, because of my love of these two books and the amazing idea for the plot, I swore The Future of Us would be phenomenal. Disappointment reigns true for this novel.

I'll start by just saying that the writing was just not good. It lacked flow and depth and reality: everything was awkward and the changes in PoVs was awkward as well. Alternating chapters were in Emma's point of view, and then Josh's -- while some authors can pull this off, this only added to the lack of cohesion and disrupted the plot further. Also, the writing is literally made for 12 year olds, but the references to shows and old technology and stuff is for those who were much older in the 90s, which I really don't understand.

Let me just go on to say how completely vapid these characters are. THEY LITERALLY FIND A GATEWAY INTO THE FUTURE AND INSTEAD OF TRYING TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE WORLD OR THEIR PERSONAL GROWTH OR SOMETHING THAT COULD HELP PEOPLE, ALL THEY CARE ABOUT IS WHO THEY MARRY. Like WOW awesome good4u clap clap characters, for overanalyzing every status update about their respective future husband or wife. They try to mess with their futures or make sure they stay married to the hottest girl to ever walk the earth and they even try to mess with other people's futures. In between all this, there are like weird teenager relationship problems and weird teenage conversations that seemed so foreign and unlikely. Just because they are from 1996 doesn't mean that these teens wouldn't sound like every other teenager (hint: teens are not all crazy sex obsessed kids or go around quoting the vice president word for word).

Also I'm like 98% sure this book doesn't have an ending, it takes up whatever it can muster from those few pages of good idea and just collapses on all fronts. The 2 stars I gave this book were for two reasons: 1) the idea was decent 2) I wasn't SO horrified that it stopped me from reading. Wouldn't really recommend this to anyone, unless you're looking to be shocked by how two good authors can collaborate on one amazing idea to create something so awful.

- Amrutha

Who are your favorite one-hit-wonder authors?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: False Sight - Dan Krokos

False Sight
Dan Krokos
Series: False Memory, # 2
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Clipping
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

If you're like me, then Dan Krokos hooked you with False Memory, and he hooked you bad.

The end of False Memory left us with startling facts: the creators are clones, the Miranda that we thought was Alpha team's Miranda isn't Miranda (???), Olive's dead as nails - and the list goes on.

Krokos's mastery of suspension, action, and depth left me hungry for more (maybe I was just hungry because I read it all at once for four hours I don't know) and so I dived right into False Sight, expecting answers to my questions.

And I got them.

And I'm not entirely sure I like them.

What makes the first book so incredible is that the Sci-Fi element is coupled with the fact that Miranda is not a reliable narrator. This means that Krokos can only push the Sci-Fi element so far, leaving most of the twists and turns to hinge on Miranda's POV and her amnesia. It's an easy plot device as well as an interesting narration to comb through. The farthest the Sci-Fi is pushed is to a clone lab and hints at some kind of animalistic, probably genetically-engineered monsters. And this is great, because it keeps the reader grounded in the present day. The plot unfolds with twists that screw with Miranda's psyche, like the fact that she's a super weapon, rather than twisting with events.

In contrast, as you may be guessing, the second book is not like this. By this time, Miranda knows (generally) who she is, and Krokos takes this chance to pour out the entire mythology of his books in around 200 pages. It's kind of scary, and a little absurd.

Here's a rough overview:

Miranda and the Roses are blending in at a school until they learn more about the creators. Someone in their crew is killed when another one goes rogue. Miranda downloads the dead Rose's memory. They follow the rouge, and end up in another universe? Now the dead Rose is alive in her head??? Wait but let's get back to the alternate universe for a second, where did this come from -- oh wait, here's an apocalypse tale for you  and monsters and a mythical device called a Torch and the secrets of the entire universe of this trilogy in three pages okay bye. And then chaos ensues.

This is at once, kind of frigging incredible. At first, it seems like these events were simply bad choreography but we learn later on that Krokos isn't just a mad man. The events that twist and turn fit tightly together in the plot line and make sense on an overall scale. At the same time, however, it's very disruptive to the characters. For example, Miranda spends a lot of the book worrying about whether she will turn rogue like the other rogue, thinking that she cannot be trusted whatsoever. This is fine, but it also puts a stopper on the wounds and traumas from the last book, not allowing the characters to consider much of them. Character depth is limited to Peter being distant, Rhys being generally two-dimensional now, Miranda being confused and not trusting herself, etc. It seems like a cheap trick to allow for another book, simply to have resolutions of character. In addition, there are parts of the book that are completely unnecessary in an already insane plot. For example, when Miranda finally has the Torch at the end, she tries to use its power to travel between universes. For some reason this doesn't work, and Krokos has someone attack her from a portal, which she jumps into. This is unnecessary action and twisting when there has been non stop fighting for this object through three universes. Miranda just jumped out of a car for frigg's sake. 

Anyway, if you've gotten past my wall of text, then you might be put off by False Sight. But that was just a warning, albeit a long and detailed one. 

In its other aspects, especially the style of writing, Krokos is somehow more enticing than he is in the first novel. The phraseology is simply gorgeous at times. 

I love, love, love the fact that the dead Rose is inside Miranda because almost all of the character depth comes from this fact. It allows Miranda the kind of above-three-dimensional feeling she had in the first book because she speaks for this consciousness, talks and touches this consciousness inside her. It's simply a fascinating aspect of the book. 

As usual, Krokos never holds back in his action scenes, brilliantly describing precisely the proper way to kick someone with a chair and roll away standing. 

I won't go on. Main point is, if you were hooked by False Memory, you will most likely love False Sight, though you might question whether a slightly more linear plot line would have helped.

- Marlon

What's the limit to plot absurdity?
Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Review + Giveaway: Landline - Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell
Series: N/A
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Adult
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: So sweet
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

It's hard for me to admit this, but Landline was actually the first Rainbow Rowell book I've ever read.

I know.

Basically, I'm a hardcore slacker and I need to get on that. Fortunately, I have Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, so hopefully I'll get to read those soon!

Anyway, back to Landline. While both Eleanor & Park and Fangirl follow teenagers finding love, Landline is an entirely different story, following Georgie and her husband Neal as their marriage seems to be falling apart. However, the way I see it, this story is about so much more than that. Yes, it's about how their marriage is falling apart, but it's also about how they met, how they fell in love, how they had children, and everything in between. It's about building relationships of all kinds and knowing when to give and take. It's about Georgie figuring out what's worth fighting for.

Another aspect of the book, as many of you may have heard by now, is that there is a magic phone that allows Georgie to call Neal in the past in Landline. Let me tell you something about this magic phone. As Rainbow Rowell herself said at the launch event, just go with it. I'm serious. If you try to read too much into it, asking questions like, "But how does it work?" or, "Where did it come from?", or nitpick with tiny details, you're going to drive yourself crazy. It's such an effortless and unimportant part of the story, to be completely honest. While it adds to Georgie's sort of self discovery, there's so much more to this book than the magic phone (as stated above).

I really loved Georgie throughout the whole book - even though I've never been in Georgie's situation, I felt that she was a very relatable character. Georgie is such a determined, stubborn, and sensitive person - while her determination to achieve her dreams sometimes blinds her from seeing what truly matters, she goes through everything and evaluates all the times she was wrong and asked too much of Neal, especially this time. Georgie's journey of discovery isn't exactly self discovery since she knows who she is, but rather a discovery of which faults she needs to change in order to be happy. I felt Georgie's sorrow, confusion, and regret so deeply throughout Landline and thoroughly enjoyed seeing Georgie's growth throughout.

As for Neal (oh, sweet Neal), he (in the present) isn't around for most of the book. In fact, I'd say he's almost completely absent, allowing for Georgie to have to figure everything out on her own. Even without Neal being around in the story, his absolute sweetness and romanticism bleeds through. Stories of Neal and Georgie in their early relationship were so sweet! Since the story sort of takes place in the past and the present, you really see the evolution of Neal as well despite his absence.

The other big character in this story is Georgie's friend and writing partner Seth. The friendship between Georgie and Seth was an interesting one. Since they'd met, they'd been bouncing comedy ideas and jokes off of each other. After knowing each other almost 20 years, you'd expect them to be extremely close, but they're not really. Sure, Seth can read Georgie well but they have "rules", as Georgie would say, and they don't talk about the important stuff. While Landline is primarily about Georgie's relationship with Neal, I'd say her relationship with Seth was also a interesting journey to follow.

All in all, I really did enjoy Landline. Rainbow Rowell's writing style was so compelling, drawing me into Georgie's head. I found that even as an unmarried and childless 19-year-old girl I could still find ways to relate to this story and the characters in it. There are so many layers to Landline - the deep parts, the sweet parts, and the absolutely comical parts. While I am certainly unqualified to speak on whether this is a truthful portrayal of a marriage in trouble, it felt truthful to me while I read. I highly recommend this book to people who like contemporary and are intrigued by a sort-of-time-travel aspect (BUT REMEMBER TO ROLL WITH IT). I'm happy to have enjoyed my first Rainbow Rowell read so much and I can't wait to read more of her work!

- Kiersten


As I mentioned briefly in my review, I was lucky enough to attend the Landline launch event in New York earlier this month. It was so much fun to hear Rainbow Rowell speak - she has so much personality and I can see how her humor plays out in the books. And she's so sweet! I hope that I'll be able to go to more of her events in the future because I seriously could not get enough of her talking!

Also, David Levithan was there to introduce Rainbow Rowell and I got to take a selfie with him, which was cool.

AND, if you haven't figured it out yet, I picked up a signed copy of Landline to giveaway!

To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway is open US only, unless you are willing to pay the shipping, and is open through August 9th. The winner will be selected shortly after and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. Best of luck! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: Running on Empty - Colette Ballard

Running on Empty
Colette Ballard 
Series: N/A
Genre: New Adult, Mystery, Romance
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Disappointing
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Running On Empty is a book that basically forms around the premise of a girl, River, killing her boyfriend in an act of self-defense, getting her friends to help cover it up, and then avoiding the police for months. I honestly think this book could have gone in a lot of different directions, or even the same direction but slightly better developed, and it would have been ten times better. It wasn't the barebones idea that was the problem or anything, and Ballard could have definitely played with it and improved it and made it into an enjoyable novel. However, the way the book did end up going wasn't quite my cup of tea.

My first grievance may or may not be fair, but it did affect my feelings so it will be included: the horse factor. Now, don't be alarmed. This is by no means a horse book. Also, do not hate me and run away because you think I hate horse books or books that mention horses or people that like horse books. That's not true. I used to love horse books. Granted, I was never that girl in fourth grade who held the equestrian queen title with her horse stuffed animals and picture books. But I have read and enjoyed my fair share of them. But I'm kindof over them, you know? So when I read the first page of this book and River described her idea of sensory heaven and it all involved galloping horses and farms, I wasn't sure what I was in for. And then I kept reading and this girl lives in a trailer and her best friend works on a farm and it's got that whole feel to it, which isn't bad but isn't really what I was expecting from a thriller murder suspense book, you know? So it isn't really about the horses specifically, it's just about the whole feel of it, because you do visit that aspect of her life a lot.

Anyway, I also have an issue with the whole fact that a lot of the plot just kindof felt flat and forced to me. The beginning was pretty typical, I saw everything coming and it was all tropes and things you could see coming. Like the jerk boyfriend who she couldn't believe she was with because he was cute and smart and wealthy and all around perfect and she was just a plain Jane and so of course he could just go around being rude to her as long as he batted and eyelash and said I love you in the end. And of course there was the cute guy best friend who there is lots of lingering sexual tension with right from the get-go because why build any of that up, right? In the middle, the plot starts to gets better but the second half of the book gets predictable again.

I also thought the writing was weak, too. The dialogue was decent, but the writing itself felt choppy and took away from the story. I thought it needed a lot of editing and should have flowed a lot smoother in order to make the story work. A lot of River's voice got lost because the writing wasn't sophisticated enough to pull it through and I think that's what took away from a lot of the novel.

Overall, I think my disappointment stems from the fact that there was a lot of potential that could have been tapped into if this story had been twisted and molded in the right places. I know all the comments I've made are negative, but the negativity only extends far enough to make it a mediocre book, not a terrible one. I won't go around telling everyone to read it, but it does get two and a half stars, so take that as you will.

- Noor

Have you read anything suspenseful lately?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Blood of Olympus - Rick Riordan

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

This week, I am waiting on The Blood of Olympus, by Rick Riordan!

The Blood of Olympus
Rick Riordan
Series:  The Heroes of Olympus, #5
Release Date: October 7th, 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Waited on by: Amrutha
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen—all of them—and they're stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood—the blood of Olympus—in order to wake.

The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it "might" be able to stop a war between the two camps.

The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea's army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.

The Heroes of Olympus series is one I have been following since the very beginning (as I am a fan from the beginning of its sister series, Percy Jackson). If you have not read our House of Hades live blog, you can do so here! As you can tell, everyone at We Live and Breathe Books is a huge fan of Rick Riordan (believe me, waking up at the crack of dawn to meet him at BEA was totally worth it), and we are just as excited about The Blood of Olympus! If you haven't started this series yet, I highly suggest you get on it, so you can read WLABB's reviews of The Blood of Olympus when it's released. It is a must for mythology lovers, lovers of action, romance, and friendship alike. Basically if you are human you will love this and you need to read the series right now. Absolutely cannot wait until October 7th!

- Amrutha

What are YOU waiting on?
Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Review: Prom Impossible - Laura Pauling

Prom Impossible
Laura Pauling
Series: Prom Impossible, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: So much fun!
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

I got a review copy of Prom Impossible a few months ago from Xpresso Book Tours, and, since I am the worst person ever, I completely forgot about it until after I was already supposed to have reviewed it and I felt really bad so I read it right away. So here's my review, two weeks late since I'm the lamest person ever.

Anyway, now that I'm done with my self loathing, onto my thoughts about Prom Impossible!

From the very start of the book it's clear that Cassidy has a plan - make it through senior year and attend the prom with her soulmate, Michael, who may not know he's her soulmate. Along the way, there are many bumps in the metaphorical road! Cassidy has to attend a sort of reform-summer-camp while her friends all hang out, Michael continues to be clueless to her affection, and there's a new divide between her and her friends. The story starts out at the beginning of the summer after Cassidy's junior year and ends after her senior prom, and throughout the story, Cassidy has to work her way through some troublesome situations while figuring out why things never seem to turn out how she wants.

Cassidy is definitely an interesting main character. Quite frankly, she kind of seems like a pathological liar a lot of the time - girl just can't manage to tell the truth! Even when it would be so much easier than her convoluted schemes! Sometimes I wanted to reach into the book and shake her and yell at her, "JUST TELL THE TRUTH! USE YOUR BRAIN! STOP!" However, at the same time, her ridiculous schemes were very amusing and kind of charming. Cassidy is a character with a lot of heart. While most of her disappointment is self inflicted, you've got to appreciate how much she tries (even if her efforts don't make any sense).

Besides Cassidy, there were definitely a wide variety of characters. There is a "nerdy" character who wears elf ears regularly in public, a jock who isn't so bright, a former bad boy trying to be a friend, a rich cousin who pretty much rules the popular crowd, a girl hellbent on making Cassidy miserable, a twin brother who is especially good at getting girls to love him, and a bunch more! With this spectrum of personalities, it's no wonder how wacky the story can get. I had a lot of fun seeing how Cassidy interacted with all of these characters.

Overall, Prom Impossible was so much fun! It was a relatively light, fluffy read, and I was enjoying it so much the whole time that I couldn't stop reading. I definitely recommend this book to lovers of fun romance, especially if you liked Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress (aka my favorite book ever)(review here). So, yea, if you like fun, read Prom Impossible!

- Kiersten

What are some fun contemporaries you've read recently?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Review: False Memory - Dan Krokos

False Memory
Dan Krokos
Series: False Memory, # 1
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Breakneck
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

For those of you who follow my twitter, you may have gleaned that I received a copy of False Future from Disney Hyperion. At that moment, my reading list was burned, the lights were dimmed, and I gathered the rest of the False Memory books to thank Disney for this wonderful opportunity. Thanks!

Let's get to it.

False Memory, you may be told, is an action-oriented thriller with guns and secrets that twist and turn the plot into a brain-exploding drug. But this, like our protag Miranda would say, is only a "half-truth" (Krokos, 2 (mobi)).

False Memory begins with an exchange between a confused Miranda and a brusque, annoying mall cop. Miranda seems to have a mixture of Post-traumatic and a slew of other amnesias -- you know, the type that action readers are familiar with and psychologists are generally confused about. Though this beginning (I can't remember who I am!) has been used before as a kickstarter to the plot, Krokos lingers for a moment, sifting through the things that make Miranda uncomfortable, like the crowd pushing up against her, and simple facts, such as having four hundred dollars in her pocket.

This moment, though you might not realize it's depth until later on, pulls you in because Krokos writes so genuinely from Miranda's POV. The beginning felt confusing, hesitant, as if it were on the tip of something but you couldn't place just what and you hope your "fingers remember what [your] brain can't" (2). Such wonderful writing.

Of course, this would be worthless if the same sincere (but at the same time, unreliable, because of Miranda's amnesia) narration didn't carry through to the rawer, harsher parts of the book where Miranda is constantly in danger. Thankfully it does, which is why so much of this book feels like it is a thriller, Miranda is like a convalescent, she is coming out of some kind of sickness and the world is all too real to her, she is bombarded with having to run and the frustration of barely knowing why. In reality, much of the book only deals with Miranda's conflictions and her trying to figure out her place in the world, even when Peter, Dr. Tycast, Olive, and especially Noah, the forgotten love-interest, try giving her maps to where she might find herself: a weapon? A savoir?

But even during one the deeper moments, when Noah reveals something quite horrible to her, does she realize that "It's tiring to attempt understanding" the "empty anger" that she feels (Krokos, 49). Through the eyes of Miranda, the reader is limited to the experience of a lost and troubled teen with a startlingly violent past. These intimate moments are lost on her but for the ghosts of feelings, and in the same vein, Miranda's frustration carries up from the words. Krokos has this wonderful effect on his characters in that I want to care about them.

This is done because the characters are engaging, three-dimensional, and their interactions are realistic. The romance, for example, is entirely believable, brutally honest, and balanced. None of that insta-love, forever-and-always nonsense. Furthermore, the dialogue isn't cookie-cutter humor, the fight scenes aren't hilariously explosive, the plot has enough tension to make this a page-turner. There is hardly any exposition, even when explaining the grittier Sci-Fi side: the genetics and brain manipulation are all explained with ease, without need for massive info-dumps.

Gosh there's so much more. This book is just freaking fantastic and I would have to write way too much to get all the way there. In any case, the book's only failing is that the action is sometimes a bit heavy and the writing quite simple. But that's it.

A great start to a trilogy, I can't wait to start the second one!

- Marlon

Are action-oriented books a waste of time?
Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Review: Hollow City - Ransom Riggs

Hollow City 
Ransom Riggs
Series: Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, #2
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Hauntingly Brilliant
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Right from the very first line, I knew this was a book after my heart. And by "after my heart," I mean that if you have read the first book, don't let the title mislead you into thinking it's referencing a city full of hollowgasts or anything. No, it's actually referring to the giant, city-sized hole clawed out from my heart because of how much love I needed to make room for to accommodate for this book. Seriously. That girl on the cover is me.

I've had quite a long wait between books and it's safe to say that it's been worth it. The very first thing that pulled me in was the beautiful narration. The first line reads:

"We rowed out through the harbor, past bobbing boats weeping rust from their seams, past juries of silent seabirds roosting atop the barnacled remains of sunken docks, past fishermen who lowered their nets to stare frozenly as we slipped by, uncertain whether we were real or imagined; a procession of waterborne ghosts, or ghosts soon to be."

I thought that was such a wonderful way to open up the story, not quite picking up where we left off, not quite starting off with a new beginning, just throwing us in the middle of some beautifully written not-quite action. Those lines had a way of making me feel tattered and worn out, as if I was emerging from -- or embarking on -- some harrowing journey, and it was just the first few words. It takes quite a bit of skill to do that and Ransom Riggs definitely has a way with words that is enrapturing and definitely pulled me along on this peculiar adventure.

As I opened the book, I found myself wondering what fate would befall the cast of characters previously introduced in the last book. While I won't give anything away, I will say that it was definitely a rewarding wait and I absolutely loved what they discovered upon their journey to London. While the first book was centered around Jacob's visit to one particular loop, this time they've got a whole lot more to explore.

I loved the direction the novel took and the way story elements we've already explored came together with things newly discovered in this books to create a new and exciting experience. I found this book to move a lot faster than the previous one, which definitely has to do with less background establishing and more plot advancing. I can appreciate both in their own regard and I found that both were necessary in their own situations and suited to each book so you can't really compare the two, but I do like the fast-pacing as a personal preference.

We also see a great deal of character development come out in Hollow City. I really grew to like Emma's character more and more, but that's to be expected considering she's Jacob's right hand woman. What really tickled my fancy, so to speak, was how great the other cast of peculiars was written. They all came alive off the page and were way more than side characters, especially the ones we see from the beginning, like Bronwyn and Olive and Hugh. I even enjoyed reading about the people they encountered for brief moments in the book, because they were so fleshed out, it was a wonderful reading experience. The more eerie parts of the book were the ones I felt were my favorite, because coupled with the narration, they really felt like an unexplainable experience entirely.

And of course, I can't forget the photographs. They added such a surreal and unearthly feel to the book and it honestly tied the whole thing together. The pictures were artfully placed so they weren't distracting and it was clear that a lot of thought was put into placement and positioning. In addition, the content of the photos was stunning and they were all quality images and beautifully taken. I loved that they were genuine vintage photographs and how it all gave the book a haunting effect.

I've just spend paragraph gushing about how much I loved Hollow City and honestly, the whole feel of the book was just so my style that I couldn't help but fall head over heels in love with it. It was one of those books that just sucks you in and never really spits you back out exactly the same way and to be honest, I wouldn't have it any other way.

- Noor

What books chill you to the bone?
Let us know in the comments!

Friday, July 11, 2014

ARC Review + Giveaway: Virgin - Radhika Sanghani

Radhika Sanghani
Series: N/A
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Absolutely hilarious
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Virgin is about a 21-year-old girl named Ellie who happens to be, well, a virgin. While the story follows Ellie on her mission to lose her virginity, she goes on a whole other journey at the same time.

I got an ARC of Virgin at BEA this year. I wasn't completely sure I was going to read but when I got an email that it was read-now on Netgalley, I decided to give it a try. When I started reading Virgin, I wasn't sure I'd be able to finish it. The very beginning felt way too personal for me when I'm first meeting this new character - I wanted to shout, "TOO MUCH INFORMATION" and run away. Of course, I did continue reading and I'm glad I did.

After the very beginning of the story, it gets more into Ellie's every day life in her last year of university. To say Ellie's life is hilarious is an understatement - she gets into the funniest jams and everything that could possibly go wrong for her always does. The greatest thing about Ellie is that, despite her moaning and groaning, she's a trooper - she takes most of the awkward moments in her life with a sense of humor and, with some help from her friends, doesn't let it defeat her. Ellie's thoughts are so honest that you can't help but find them funny because she really tells it like it is - no sugar coating whatsoever.

Besides Ellie, there is an AWESOME cast of friends in her life. I would tell you about them but telling you about them is probably spoilery and you should meet them for yourself.

Even though the basic concept of the story is about a 21-year-old girl trying to lose her virginity, it's so much more than that. Ellie matures so much throughout the course of the book. Not only does she learn about friendship and what really matters but she kind of finds her identity and who she is. Most coming of age stories are written about teenagers but I think Virgin is an important coming of age story for college students. As a college student myself, I completely understand Ellie's confusion about what her future holds and I loved how she discovered her voice in a way she never would have expected.

All in all, Virgin is a coming of age story packed full of humor and honest portrayals of life. Not everything turns out how Ellie expects it to; she figures out that it's ok and it makes her who she is. As much as this is a fun coming of age story, it is still pretty graphic and descriptive about mature topics, so I'd say it is definitely more of a New Adult than a Young Adult story. That being said, it really is up to the reader what she/he is comfortable with. While Virgin is unlike anything I've ever read, it does have a similar feel to the TV show Awkward, and, with Ellie's empowering journey to self discovery, it's definitely a great book for all women!


Like I said in the beginning of my review, I was lucky enough to grab an ARC of Virgin at Book Expo America this year. Since I was also able to get an eARC on Netgalley, I'd like to give away this unread ARC to one of you!

To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway is open US only, unless you are willing to pay the shipping, and is open through July 24th. The winner will be selected shortly after and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. Best of luck! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Review: We Were Liars - E. Lockhart

We Were Liars
E. Lockhart
Series: N/A
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mystery
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Deceptively Enticing
On Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository


I am ridiculously conflicted


On one hand, I wanted to Five Star this post and get you good people on your way to buying this amazing book that kept me up until six in the morning because I could not stand to put it down.

On the other hand, if you head over to Goodreads or Amazon (or any review site) you'll find that this book has entirely polar reviews. Succinct and biting review's such as Mary Chirstensen's and positive, still analytical reviews such as Kristin's. This has seriously clefted my judgement and, because I do not want to feel like I am being deceived, I will do my best to reconcile my love with the problems that others have faced. Let's begin:

Maybe it is the five a.m. stupor talking. Maybe it is the chocolate. It doesn't matter, but for whatever reason, I fell in love with this book almost immediately and could not put it down. 

It begins quite deceptively smoot and then boom. Cady is shot in the chest with a handgun by her father (who is leaving her). Well, not quite. Cady has a knack for telling stories and letting the truth and the lie look awfully the same. And I love her for it. The novel unravels quite unassumingly, letting the secrets of the Sinclair family out. What I love is that it is nearly plot-less, it is deceptively expository, with random titbits about the Sinclair's, like who wants what property or who likes what pie or that someone can't suffer fools but will migraines or the other way around. Yet, despite this, and even the harshest critique's I've found generally agree with me, Lockhart winds up the pages with overflowing suspense. It is so hard to put this book down.

My favourite part seemed to be the pitfall for most others: the style of writing, including inlaid free verse, interjections, the "variations", etc. And this, of course, is purely preferential. If you do not like free verse poetry then you simply do not like free verse poetry and that's the end of it. I will say that at some times it was difficult to understand, especially when the novel began flashbacks. Lockhart seems to have tried too seamless an integration of styles and, despite her skill, she fell slightly short of her mark in Part 3-4. (Lockhart has Cay reflect often, so the flashback discrepancy isn't a huge deal, it can simply be jarring to a casual reader). Otherwise, unlike most, I found that the verse, "variations", etc. fit in extremely well with the rest of the novel, giving color and depth to the narrator who can be so easily denounced by the reader.

And is. Recall the handgun metaphor above. Or, if you've read it, just about any time Cady talked about her splitting migraines. Many complain that that's not how they would react to having a migrane, or complain that the author really should have emphasized that the handgun metaphor was in fact a metaphor. And then, after all of this, they have the audacity to say that Cady is unassuming, vague, indeterminate, and one-dimensional. This is not true. To me, the most obvious dichotomy of the novel is Cady Sinclair, the rich white heiress, and Cady, who experiences pain and loss. Reconciling these Cadies is difficult, and the novel ends up with a Cady who, because of her upbringing, is not fond of expressing herself, at least straightforwardly. She is a Sinclair, through and through, after all. But she has to express herself somehow, and all of the frustration and angst in being denied the right to do so properly is mirrored by her narration: it is covered up by poetry, erased by how she chooses to translate what she feels into words.. This is so important. I've seen so many reviews that denounce Cady as an empty shell for Lockhart's voice, but if you read The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, the narrative voice does not remotely resemble the mannerisms that are threaded into Cady's, for example her tendency to tangent into slurries of "curse words". Similarly, the themes in that book are openly discussed and resolved. In this novel, Cady's character, who is a rich white heiress must be eased into this complex political battlefield. She learns much in the way of how to pursue answers through the simple conflicts that the three other main characters give, and though they may at points be predictable and twoish-dimensional, Cady is complex.

And let's not move on, because I find this notion of pouncing on Cady's empty, privileged, impulsive character (haha #firstworldproblems) idiotic considering one of the greatest works of literature -- Romeo and Juliet -- acknowledges this very stupidity, this very insanity that comes with impulsiveness, angst, and the desire to escape familial pressures and pursue love. We were liars does not, obviously, hold the literary weight that Romeo and Juliet holds, but just as Shakespeare does, Lockhart openly admits the impulsiveness and stupidity, the brashness of Cady's choices. The entire point of this book is that Cady, through her experiences and especially through the lens of Gat, learns of the superficial world which she is restrained to. But it takes so much trauma for her to realize this that she admits that she is not ready, that there will be things to know about her, but she will take time to heal.

Could there have been more? Could Cady have grown to confront the socio-political problems that the Liars tried to answer as teenagers? Yes, but that would have moved the plot too far for just social commentary.

This is becoming more of a rant than a review, but in any case, this is an amazing novel that almost gave me a heart attack. Read it, if anything, for the elegance in story-construction and because I'll devise creative ways to get back at you if you don't.

- Marlon

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