Saturday, May 30, 2015

BEA Recap: Day Three

Kiersten's Highlights

Day three of BEA was absolutely incredible! After waking up before dawn to go to day two, Marlon and I decided to sleep a little longer and meet up with Noor and Amrutha around 7 before we went to the Children's Book Author Breakfast at 8.

The breakfast was so much fun! It started with Nathan Lane, who is hilarious, talking about his career and the inspiration for his book. After that, Oliver Jeffers was also hilarious and generally awesome. He even did a little drawing demo for us, which was really cool. Next was the person WLABB was really there to see: Rainbow Rowell. Rainbow Rowell is basically one of the best humans and she was so funny. She talked about all her time working in journalism and the world's largest popcorn ball. She also talked about being a writer and eating cheese in a cave. She's just the best, and she also wants you to know she has this book called Attachments and that it's pretty cool. Lastly, James Patterson spoke. He was talking about all his philanthropic endeavors, his new imprint, and his experience with film and television people. I think my favorite thing he said was about how he had experienced being poor, middle class, and rich, and after sampling the three, he preferred being rich - I mean, why wouldn't you want to be rich?

After the breakfast, we headed onto the showroom floor and started the frenzy to get all the books! I was really happy because I got to get basically everything I set out for yesterday. Some of the best things I got are Soundless by Richelle Mead, Signs Point to Yes by Sandy Hall, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, and Tonight the Streets are Ours by Leila Sales! I'd also like to give a special shoutout to Liza Wiemer for being the absolute sweetest person ever. I wasn't sure I'd be able to make it to her Hello? signing but I did and she is actually the sweetest and I'm not over it.

All in all, BEA 2015 was absolutely incredible and so successful! I'm so happy with my experience: from the books to all the great people I met, it made BEA 2015 the best BEA I've been to thus far! Hopefully I'll be able to go to BEA again next year when it's in Chicago (fingers crossed).

To see more of the fun the bloggers of WLABB had at BEA yesterday, and for pictures since words are sometimes boring, check out our BEA hashtag on Twitter: #WLABBtakesBEA!

Also, we'll be at BookCon for the next two days, so let us know if you're around and check out our BookCon hashtag: #WLABBtakesBookCon!

Marlon's Highlights

And on the third day of BEA-mas,

THERE WAS SO MUCH. My feet have left the building.

Amrutha's Highlights

Omg. BEA Day Three was INSANE. Like nevermind the fact that I yet again took the 4:27 train and stuck it out all day on my feet, let's focus on these facts:

1) I got like, every single book I realllly wanted. Like literally, everything. Shoutout to Kiersten and some hella good planning. Also shoutout to me for having really good line-standing skills.

2) I MET MY IDOLS FOREVER, MINDY KALING AND MEG CABOT. Loving everything tbh, those women are icons, whether they represent something that touches my life in a very real way now, or did especially when I was a young and angsty tween.

3) Did we talk about how I got everything I wanted and met hella people?

4) JLA remembered who I was/////recognized me///////whatever they're the same thing.

I'm like, 100% convinced I paid back all of this greatness in karma by talking to/taking a book from/standing in a nonexistent line for an author who wrote about composting (which is real interesting I'm sure, just not relevant to the blog).

Okay, so I have some funny and awkward and really hilar stories from today (also a rant or two) but I literally am so exhausted I might just fall apart at the seams, so I'll cover them and post pictures in our overall book conference post. Keep on the look out for me on twitter and come say hi if you see me!!!!

Noor's Highlights

Every day of BEA brought a different focus, and today's, for me, was signings. There were so many people there that I really wanted to see with conflicting hours, so prioritizing signings was rough for me, and I missed a few really desirable signings, but for some I will have the opportunity to see the person tomorrow, and for those that I won't, I'll live because the signings I did go to were the ones I cared about a lot personally.

Let's just start with the fact that I met Mindy Kaling and absolutely adored the few seconds I had with her. Standing on line for her signing took out a very large chunk of my day and I'm so terribly upset Felicia Day was signing at the same time because I want to meet her as well but I'm hoping to catch her at bookcon.

I was also crying internally over the rest of my signings, including David Levithan, Rainbow Rowell, and Meg Cabot. Everyone was just so cool. Meg Cabot wore a tiara so you already know we're on the same page and meeting her was so sweet and adorable. David Levithan made a face in our selfie. Also, Maragaret Stohl remembered me from the day before so basically I am #goals.

Overall, I think that even though I didn't get a huge book haul I'm okay with it because I was doing targeted signings and I know for sure I want all the books I got.

Oh, and the children's author breakfast was pretty cool. Rainbow Rowell was phenomenal as expected but Oliver Jeffers was there for The Day the Crayons Quit -- a personal favorite book -- and gave a spectacularly cute speech with lots of visual aids on the screen so that was pleasant.

Overall, I think all of BEA was successful and went very well and I'm ready for whatever BookCon throws my way.

Friday, May 29, 2015

BEA 2015 Recap: Day Two

Kiersten's Highlights

Day two of BEA started out very early for the bloggers of WLABB... We decided to be really ambitious and take the 4:27 am train into New York, meaning I woke up at 3 am. Yikes! Was it really necessary? Not really, which is why I'm not doing it again for day 3. (Although we were first on line to get in, which was pretty cool. I mean, I like being first. I have a problem.)

The main thing that made the early commute worth it was getting to meet Alexandra Bracken and getting an ARC of Passenger! It was kind of a mad rush in (because everyone runs even when they tell us not to run). After grabbing Passenger, I was able to go to many other signings and drops that I really wanted to get! Some of my other favorite books I got yesterday are Dumplin' by Julie Murphy, Firewalker by Josephine Angelini, Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith, and The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow! There were so many good books yesterday and there are going to be even more today. This is going to be interesting.

The saddest thing about yesterday was definitely that the wheel on my suitcase broke on the way to BEA. At 5 am. Sob. I could still sort of wheel it because it has four swivel wheels, but I couldn't drag it behind me like a traditional suitcase and it made the walk back to Penn Station a struggle.

Luckily, for all the trouble we had commuting home on day one, yesterday went so smoothly! We walked into the train station, then walked onto a train, and got seats. I was home before 6:30, a whole two hours earlier than day one!

To see more of the fun the bloggers of WLABB had at BEA today, and for pictures since words are sometimes boring, check out our BEA hashtag on Twitter: #WLABBtakesBEA!

If you're going to be at BEA, we'd love to see you! Today we'll all be wearing matching blue shirts with silver glitter letters on the back. I swear it looks better than it sounds.

Also, I know I'm going to say this in my day three recap, but I already can't believe how fast BEA 2015 has gone by. It has been so much fun. I mean, there's still BookCon though... :)

Marlon's Highlights

And on the second day,

The early commute was absolutely the worst. BUT. Was it worth it? I was able to snatch a copy of Zeroes and get in line for Alexandra Bracken's Passenger. Honestly, I would have just not slept at all if I had known she was signing! I love her. A lot. Meeting her in person was ostensibly retribution for the heinous train situations of the past two days. I will devote a full post to it, but suffice it to say that she is like a tree nymph, who blooms your heart if stand too close.

Unlike most people, I actually didn't run through many drops and I actually missed a couple of signings (I'll get you yet, Sara Raasch). Much of my time was spent fawning over Alexandra Bracken and being amazed that she did not hate me, discussing history (esp. historical misrecognition of gender and ethnic representation in Alexander the Great's lifetime) with Legacy of Kings author Eleanor Herman (she's beautiful! find some pictures on @SwordfishHorski and hashtag Kiersten mentioned of all of it!). I also spent some time creating a wonderful friendship with Downcast author Cait Reynolds, who dropped her book today! Find it on amazon! She's a genius! Go!

I think I saw David Levithan casually chilling but I had to run? It's fine I shall see his lovely face tomorrow for the Another Day signing.

Chatted with Brandon Mull and Lev Grossman, which was always fun! A couple of publicists and other exhibitors. A butt-ton of my time was spent with another blogger, Bayram, who NeverEndingBooks. You have probably heard of him, he's awesome and loves YA! We are a strong power duo.

Get on the twitter! That's where we're at!


Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to pass out for the five precious hours I have.

Amrutha's Highlights

Good news or bad news first? We'll do bad news:

We had to wake up at 3 and take a 4:27 train in order to keep up with the fact that we're crazy. It was the realest struggle and me and Noor are going to do it again for Day 3 so if you see someone collapse and die as the first in line people, just know that it was us and we tried our best.

The good news: WE WERE FIRST IN LINE TO GET INTO THE SHOWROOM!!! It literally sounds so stupid actually typing it out but when we were about to go in and the minutes were counting down, being first was actually pumping us up and giving us adrenaline that we really desperately needed because lol sleep and lol that train on Day 1 and just struggle overall.

I got SO many of the books I wanted, like Passenger, Legacy of Kings, and Never, Always, Sometimes, and I got to see Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York) for the second year in a row!!! Also #KillinTheGalleyDropGame -- last year I focused mainly on galleys and I got SO many books and so far I've been doing pretty well with the galleys (I might have scared the Simon & Schuster people but like whatever, I'm hardcore, deal with it.

I would show you guys some pictures right now but like my phone is dead and needs to be revived from all of the social media usage at BEA -- if you want to see some pictures and figure out what author tweeted me back (like it sounds like a not-big deal but rest assured, it is totally a huge deal (to me)), you should go check out my twitter (linked on the side but like anyway its @ruthlessram).

If you're at BEA please tweet us and meet up and come say hi, I'd love to meet any of you and trade info and hang out and take cute selfies while struggling in line together!

Also ps the train wasn't a struggle today but I had to go to a 3.5 hour class after BEA and like wow I had such an issue paying attention but whatever it was worth it today was hella rad and like Kiersten said, BEA is going so fast and its ridiculous how much happens within the span of like ten seconds in such a high stakes environment.

See you peeps later (I'll try to stay alive and persevere).

Noor's Highlights

Guess who got two hours of sleep the night before Day 2 while getting one hour (it was kindof like a half hour actually because my mental preparation alarms started going off but shh) the night before Day 1? You're right, it was me, I am trash. It's okay though because not only did I sleep on the train, but when we were waiting for Jennifer E. Smith and the line hadn't officially started so we weren't in the queue and there was lots of space around me, I took a nice nap right on the show floor and apparently people thought that was amusing because they sniped pics of me but I'm not even bitter (except the one Kiersten tweeted was so unflattering I'm actually kinda bitter).

Besides the sleep thing, the day went well. As opposed to Wednesday, which was spent mostly focusing on grabbing galley drops, I spent a lot of today at signings, which I was totally cool with. Jesse Eisenberg was signing his book today and that's the reason I chose to take a 4:27 train to get author signing tickets -- he's one of my favorite actors and The Social Network is my favorite movie and I absolutely melted when I got to meet him (and take a selfie holla). I also was freaking out internally over Jennifer E. Smith and her signing of Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between. Kiersten and I started the line like two hours ahead. We're committed. 

Marissa Meyer was also someone I was looking forward to -- I'm behind on The Lunar Chronicles, having only read Cinder, but I was still excited to meet her and I can't wait until I (finally) get to Fairest. She was one of the in-booth ticketed authors and there were concerns tickets would run out but we made it. Another one of these was Brandom Stanton -- Humans of New York -- signing posters for his new book (Humans of New York: Stories) and even though I met him last year I still fangirled pretty hard. Since last year, I took a selfie, this year I had someone take one of us standing, so if I ever meet him again I have to think of a new one. I also went to Josephine Angelini's signing of Firewalker, which I was interested in because I enjoyed Trial by Fire (review here). Also, she remembered our business cards, which was rad. The last signing I think was a fun one was Margaret Stohl's signing of Dangerous Deception (which was actually the first signing I went to). I still have to read her and Kami Garcia's books but they're both just so cute that the signing experience is still great. She complimented my necklace that I was wearing as a headband/headpiece and I complimented her glittery shirt and she was giving us buttons and TATTOOS and they were shimmery

Besides the books, my favorite part of today happened when I was standing in the Jesse Eisenberg line. So, if you're not familiar, before you actually get to the author someone comes around with sticky notes to write down the name you want the book made out to so it goes quicker and spelling mistakes don't happen and all that good stuff. And I looked over and a few queues to the left of me, guess who was handing out the sticky notes? David Levithan?!?!?! It was so surreal, and if I wasn't too far I would have asked him for a selfie (the people in line were asking for pictures and things and honestly were probably more excited about that than the line they were in) but alas, I'll have to wait for his signing.

Other than all that, I'm exhausted and running on not enough sleep. Peace out cub scouts.  

Thursday, May 28, 2015

BEA 2015 Recap: Day One & Blogger's Conference

Kiersten's Highlights

Yesterday was the day: the first day of BookExpo America 2015! In addition to being the first day of BEA, it was also Blogger's Conference!

We woke up bright and early to head to New York City and walk over to Javits, the venue of BEA. After we got there, we met up with some friends (aka Xander from Forever Bookish) and met some new friends as well! The Blogger's Conference was a great experience - we got to hear from many experienced panelists to learn more about the ins and outs of blogging. Don't be surprised it you see some interesting changes from WLABB!

The first day of the BEA conference started at one, during Blogger's Conference. We split up a bit and got some awesome ARCs and totes! My personal highlights are The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson, and Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid. It was really cool because WLABB has never gone to the first day of BEA before and it was a chiller vibe than the full days.

After the day was over and we had TONS of amazing books, we lugged out suitcases all the way back to Penn Station for some unexpected traveling difficulties. Unfortunately Amtrak was having a wire issue and all trains in and out of New York were delayed over an hour and a lot of trains were even getting canceled! The train station was so packed - it was the most packed I've ever seen the train station and the train.

Once we finally got on the train (we took a train that was meant to depart at 5:37 at around 6:45), it was quite the relief... until we got back to the craziness of our train station and all the people being picked up and leaving the parking lot. We waited at least a half hour just to get out of the parking lot to go home!

Even though the commute back was horrible, it was such a fun day! To see more of the fun the bloggers of WLABB had at BEA today, and for pictures since words are sometimes boring, check out our BEA hashtag on Twitter: #WLABBtakesBEA!

If you're going to be at BEA, we'd love to see you! Come say hi! (We'll actually already be at BEA when this post actually publishes, but I don't feel like getting into technicalities.)

Also, check out the highlights of the other bloggers below!

Marlon's Highlights

The Blogger's Conference was super fun. I loved hearing from incredible panelists like Katytastic, Sarah Moon, etc, and of course getting arcs like Another Day and The Copper Gauntlet. Woo. I loved meeting you fab authors - I'm talking to you Cait Reynolds! Food was actually not horrible... Commute was unexpectedly hell...

Amrutha's Highlights

This is just going to be one long ramble because the train issues (which will be explained later) have tired me out so much to the point where I'm just going to be speaking in run-on sentences.

The day started out with some early rising and chilling in line and getting breakfast and meeting some fellow bloggers! It was a calm start to the day, which is much appreciated because the next few days are going to be hella crazy. Then, we got to hear some really cool blogging tips from our Keynote speaker panel -- they all talked about their experiences blogging and how those experiences extended to their professional careers, which was both extremely interesting and inspiring. We then saw two different panels, both hosted by some really adorable people with really unique experiences (one woman created the #YesAllWomen hashtag and had been harassed on social media and explained how to protect yourself on social media, while another woman discussed her experiences vlogging as opposed to traditional blogging).

After lunch (which involved so much walking and talking to someone about possibly posting about their dog on the blog (I'm not kidding it was a thing)) we finally got to go to some signings and grab some drops!! I got a copy of Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl that I'm super excited about! We all were also lucky enough to get a Holly Black/Cassie Clare much needed novel: The Copper Gauntlet. Between the four of us, we got to experience all of BEA Blogger Con, grab all of the books dropped, and even go to the signings we wanted to go to: all in all, successful day.

Now, after dragging our fifty pounds of books each back to the train station, we were met with hour delays and cancelations and more or less had to fight our way through the crowd and carry our piles of books up and down stairs and finally made it on to a bus were we got to stand, packed like sardines, so close that they couldn't even check our tickets. Finally, after getting home several hours after expected, we got to sit in the train station parking lot for an hour so we could finally exit, with all the traffic build up inside the parking lot itself. It was so fun! (Hint: it was not fun) (Hint 2: no really it was horrible we are all a little dead inside because of it) (Hint 3: Shoutout to amtrak for being the real baes and totally not messing things up and helping us even to get to our destination ahead of schedule) (Hint 4: we all hate amtrak)

Oh well, at least BEA Blogger Con was a success! See you all at BEA tomorrow bright (not bright, we're leaving when it's still dark out) and early!

Noor's Highlights

I've been back home for a few hours now and honestly I can still feel the ache in my feet from today (which I'll suck up, because we have four more days of this and the next two involve waking up even earlier). I feel like this is the mark of a successful day.

The first half was spent at some very informative panels and I appreciated all the bloggers, authors, publicists, and everyone else who was up there and trying to help everyone get the most out of their blogging experiences. After lunch was when we kicked it into gear with the galley drops and signings (well not all four of us, we kept splitting up and meeting back up together and between everyone we have almost everything relevant book being given out yesterday.

The first book I got that really excited me was Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. I've been hearing more and more about it lately and it's all positive and I really wanted to read it and all of a sudden we walked past and there was a pile of them, neatly laid out in a circle on the floor for our taking. Before this, I had just grabbed books that sounded interesting or I vaguely was into but this was the first of the day I really got excited about.

My two favorite gems are Another Day by David Levithan, which I didn't know they would be dropping and then I found out a few hours prior and needed to have it, because he's one of my favorite authors and I've been looking forward to this book, and The Copper Gauntlet by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black, the value of which I feel like I don't even need to explain honestly (this was probably my favorite book from the day).

I'm also ready to crack open many of the other books I brought home! Siren's Fury by Mary Weber is the sequel to a book we triple reviewed a while back and all enjoyed, Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar is just by Louis Sachar and I didn't know he was writing anything new but he's cool so I'm down with it, and Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff is just beautiful aesthetically (I mean it looks interesting too).

Also, people waited in line at 8 AM for Truthwitch by Susan Dennard and I didn't know it was going to be relevant but the demand was insane and they only had 100 copies. None of us tried to get one but Xander (whose blog is mentioned above in Kiersten's section) did and while that's not an addition to my personal collection or anything, I just wanted to comment on the craziness.

You've heard the train situation and I don't wanna talk about it honestly. I'm pretty sure I was standing for like 14 hours. Can't wait for tomorrow though!!!! (Jk actually can't wait bc Jesse Eisenberg will be there and I will melt).

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Review: The Infinite Moment of Us - Lauren Myracle

The Infinite Moment of Us
Lauren Myracle
Genre: Young Adult, Romance
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository 

I read this book as a TBR Jar challenge (I'm just not having luck with those, clearly) -- read a book solely judging by its cover. I didn't just select the book for the challenge based on the cover, but the cover is what attracted me to make the purchase in the first place. I bought this so long ago I honestly don't remember when or where I obtained it, but I recall seeing the pretty script and the colors and thinking I wanted it and the blurb seemed promising so I finally gave it a go.

Now I wish I'd just left it on my shelf and admired the pretty cover and not read the book. I feel like the best phrase to describe my opinions on this book is to say that I wasn't feeling it. I think that encompasses the way I feel like I couldn't form real connections and couldn't bring myself to care and was just reading for the sake of reading. I just wasn't feeling what this book was putting out, which wasn't much. And this is coming from someone who absolutely loves cheesy, cutesy romances and fluff and things of that sort so I'm not hating on that aspect or anything because of a personal negative genre bias.

My first grievance will be the characters, I guess, so there's a background, since the book was all about these two and their destined love. Wren is our main protagonist, and we meet her as she's graduating high school. So she's super smart and pretty and kind and probably perfect. And then we have Charlie, her counterpart, who is all quiet and closed off and doesn't really have friends and has a tragic backstory of course. And there's nothing wrong with writing characters who fit the descriptions of these characters -- I know I didn't go too in-depth, but you get the idea -- if you do it well and give them their own personalities and good dialogue and make them come to life but I literally felt like I was reading stock characters. They weren't well done at all.

And the dialogue really bothered me too. I know the opinions of characters are not the opinions of authors, but some of the things the characters said were just really questionable and propagated a lot of antifeminist ideas and I usually don't have a problem with problematic characters existing because that's how you have a dynamic cast of characters but in those cases it's easy to see that you shouldn't align your views with them, whereas here you were supposed to laugh and agree. I wish I could pull up some of the quotes here but I just moved back in from college and my books are packed away in a box, including this one.

Other than that, it honestly just wasn't well written. The beginning was okay and I thought it would pick up but it just didn't. The writing wasn't anything great and the plot was just annoying. Wren was selfish and annoying and made such illogical choices for someone who was supposedly so intelligent. Charlie obsessed with her in a weird way. She wanted him to drop everything for her and go travel with her and also there was some girl named Starrla thrown in there for conflict purposes but the entire book just focused on their romance, which honestly wasn't that great for being marketed as written in the stars or whatever. Like, I wouldn't mind an entire book spending all its pages on a romance. In fact, I'd be into it. I just need it to be something worth reading. Myracle decided to forgo so many possible areas where the could have explored the story -- Wren's relationship with her parents, Wren and why she needed to take a year off from school to travel, Charlie and his family, Charlie's brother. She briefly mentioned so many things and didn't provide enough elaboration to be satisfied and the book would have been so much better if she spent time fleshing out those aspects of their lives and still keeping the romance as a main plot point -- although the romance needs to be revamped very much too, but one step at a time, right?

- Noor

Have you encountered any terrible romances?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Review: One More Thing: Stories and other Stories - B.J. Novak

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories
B. J. Novak
Series: N/A
Genre: Short Stories, Fiction, Humor
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

I have a cosmic-level aversion to short stories. For some reason, they have always felt wrong to me, sitting smugly in that vast region between poem and novel. They always seemed to be more about the message and less about the importance of that message (esp. to different characters).

This book didn't change my life, but it is one heck of a trip, and brings my aversion level down to Earth.

Most of Novak's pieces in this collection rely heavily on shock value, bizarre stretches of thought, or an endless list of What Ifs. It makes for a set of laughs for those receptive to that type of humor. Think of long, detailed Eddie Izzard sets, just with more twists and less French.

While most of the pieces seemed intended for laughs, some of the pieces held a striking depth to them. No One Goes to Heaven to See Dan Fogelberg discusses (in narrative) what would happen if a happy afterlife existed, and what would happen to a person who dies, desiring to see his grandmother, who turns out to be busy doing the things that she had loved in her life, of which he was just a small part of. Another example is Sophia, a love story about a sex robot and the person she falls in love with. Think about that premise and how incredibly awful that could be as a story. Instead, there are whole sections dealing with consciousness and conditioning in a powerful way. Novak sometimes also links his stories (for example, a red shirt shows up more than once) very subtlety, leading to the feeling that the texts are interconnected and part of something greater.

Unfortunately, Novak more often than not runs with an concept too structurally, without allowing the implications to really present themselves. A couple of examples of this, for me, are MONSTER: The Roller Coaster and Dark Matter. With Monster, the premise is a roller coaster that emulates one's journey through life. This story had caverns of potential, which Novak shows with an exchange between test subject 1 and the rest of the characters about suicide, ending in:
"Sorry but I never asked to be on a ride with you. I just showed up and you were here. Who says I have to like it. You like it and that's great. I didn't. So what? Can't you respect that?' 
None of them understood this attitude except 6, who understood but kept it to himself. 
'That doesn't make any sense,' said 6." (Novak, 113) 
Deep, respectful, and at the end, lighthearted. Novak excels at fragmented moments of sentimentality and philosophy. However, unlike Sophia, this is about as deep as the story gets. The dialogue preceding and following it are all expected lines when discussing the weirdness of life.

This is not to say Novak's ideas are flawed. They're captivating and often very engaging. The issue with this collection is the execution: Novak lacks the playfulness of language that his ideas deserve and allows the ideas to play themselves out in a linear, non-complex fashion. This takes place even in the longer stories, which, because of their simplicity, rely solely on devices (like shock value) to carry one through the text. The often straightforward language seems far more suited for dialogue-heavy stories or screenplays, which makes sense considering his work in The Office.

Finally, and of course I must point it out, the lack of much non heteronormative, non-white characters (outside of a couple one-liners) was a hindrance, and I almost stopped reading the book because of that alone. Of all the stories Novak could think of, none included significant non-white, non-straight characters? I find that suspicious or at the very least ignorant considering he doesn't live under a rock.

In all, this book is a pretty good read. Not an incredible read, but a pretty good one. Overall, many stories might fall flat, but the inventiveness and imagination and depth in the dozen or so gems are worth it.

Here's a couple of the stories I recommend:

The Rematch
No One Goes to Heaven to See Dan FogelbergThe Something by John Grisham
The Comedy Central Roast of Nelson Mandela
The Ghost of Mark Twain
The Market was Down
Confucius at Home
A New Hitler
J.C. Audetat, Translator of Don Quixote

- Marlon

Short stories? Too long? Too Short?
Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Stuffed Animal Saturday [24]

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!

This Saturday, Luna (my husky) and I are reading Maximum Ride Forever, by James Patterson. Even though Luna is tiny she is fully caught up on this series and has even been reading it since like middle school and she isn't angry at all that there is ANOTHER BOOK OF THIS SERIES and that MAYBE just MAYBE THIS SERIES SHOULD HAVE ENDED LIKE 6 BOOKS AGO. Nope she's not angry at all and she will be reading this 9th book with a completely unhindered and unbiased point of view. Yep...anyway...

So far: Luna is really confused as to why this book is picking up at a weird place and not following a completely linear timeline. However, the flock seems to be navigating the post-apocalyptic world and Luna has been reminded /just a little/ as to why she liked this series so much in the first place. She's excited to keep reading and hopes that this book has a more satisfactory ending than what the last few books have provided.

Sneak peek: Luna and I are struggling a bit about what to share here because anything past the first few pages feels like a spoiler to anyone who has been caught up on this series. For this reason, Luna has chosen to share Max's introduction to Maximum Ride Forever.
Hey, you! 
This is important. What you’re holding in your hands is the only written record of the new history of the world. Don’t freak out—I know I’m making it sound like a textbook, and believe me, I hated school more than anyone. But this much I can promise: It’s not like any textbook you’ve read before. See, this chunk of pages tells the story of the apocalypse and all that came after—some pretty heavy stuff, for sure, and I don’t blame you for being nervous. We all know that history tends to repeat itself, though, so for your sake and the sake of the future, I hope you’ll read it… when you’re ready. 
Well, we're ready right now (Luna is a tad nervous though).

- Amrutha

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

Thursday, May 21, 2015

ARC Review: The Witch Hunter - Virginia Boecker

The Witch Hunter
Virginia Boecker 
Series: The Witch Hunter, #1
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal, Historical Fiction
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for the eARC I received via NetGalley!

When I started reading The Witch Hunter, I had no idea how much the characters and stories would grow on me. I was really worried about reading this right after finishing Champion (such a good finale), but I had nothing to worry about - I loved The Witch Hunter!

The Witch Hunter is about a witch hunter who ends up accused of being a witch and sentenced to burn at the stake. She ends up receiving help from the most powerful wizard around, and throughout the book, she is forced to reevaluate what she's always thought about magic.

I really enjoyed the characters in The Witch Hunter. Elizabeth, the main character, was interesting because she was a mix of the stereotypical tough heroine and an average, vulnerable girl - she's basically lost everything and sometimes she gives up, but she's still tough and ready to fight you if you give her a hard time. John was a really interesting character as well, although I wish there had been more of him to help support some of the other plot elements. One character who I liked a lot, even though he wasn't a huge character, was George. George was so fun. I want more George in book two.

While I enjoyed the characters, I loved the plot and how the character's actions drove the plot forward. There was never a point where I felt like characters were making out-of-character choices for the plot to progress - it all flowed together seamlessly. The plot was also super fast paced - I never wanted to put it down!

Overall, I was really impressed by The Witch Hunter and how much I ended up loving it. I cannot tell you how much I want the next book, and the first one hasn't even come out yet! I can't wait to see what Virginia Boecker has in store for the rest of this series! I highly recommend this to fans of fantasy involving witches.

- Kiersten

What was the last book that exceeded your expectations?
Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Books That Made Me Cry

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Here at We Live and Breathe Books, two of us choose five books each week. This weeks topic is a freebie so we chose...

Books that made me cry!

Kiersten's Picks

I'd just like to preface this by saying I'm about 95% sure that Noor is going to say something about how all the books make her cry as a preface.

Where the Red Fern Grows
Wilson Rawls
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

This book is the OG of books that made me cry. I read this book in third grade and my poor, little 8-year-old heart could not handle it. This book made me cry so hard I couldn't even breathe. Luckily I read the end of this book at home rather than at school (where I was supposed to be reading it) because I definitely would have been sent to guidance or something. It was rough.

Clockwork Princess
Cassandra Clare
The Infernal Devices, #3

It's no secret that Clockwork Princess is one of my favorite books ever. I grew so attached to all the characters in The Infernal Devices series and SO MANY OF THEM DIED AND IT HURTS, OK?! I'm not even kidding, throughout this series I cried when minor characters died after being around for only one book, when semi-evil characters died, when I thought people died but then they were alive - I basically never stopped crying, let's be honest.

Marie Lu
Legend, #3
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Champion - the most recent book to make me cry. If you've read Champion, then you know exactly how heart wrenching, and at the same time incredibly satisfying, the ending is. I HAD ALL THE FEELS. I don't think I stopped crying from the last chapter all the way through the epilogue and then some.

The Sweetest Dark
Shana Abé
The Sweetest Dark, #1
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

The ending of this book was rough for me. The plot did not exactly go my way in terms of keeping around characters that I loved (cue the crying). But it's ok, I'm mostly over it now. Mostly.

The Fault in Our Stars
John Green

Do I even need to write anything about this one? I think a list about books that make someone cry implies The Fault in Our Stars. It was inevitable.

Noor's Picks

Unfortunately, Noor was unable to complete her picks for this weeks topic due to school things. I (Kiersten) still really wanted this post to happen, so this week is a Top Five Tuesday. However, I would like to point out that when I told Noor what the topic was, she said it would be so hard because all the books make her cry, making the preface kind of still accurate.

What books made you cry?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Giveaway: 2nd Blogiversary!

If you couldn't tell from the title... 



We awkwardly forgot to celebrate last year, so this year I made a point of marking my calendar and planning for this occasion. Obviously we wouldn't be where we are without all the people reading this post right now, so this one goes out to you.

As a thank you to all our amazing readers, followers, etc., we're having an extra special blogiversary giveaway!!!

You see this stack of books right below?

From top to bottom: Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne, The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski, The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh O'Brien, Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre, Lailah by Nikki Kelly, Cress by Marissa Meyer, Unremembered by Jessica Brody, and Unraveled by Gennifer Albin.

Looks nice, doesn't it? Well, every single book in this pile is autographed by the author (a result of going to Fierce Reads tours and never actually getting around to posting giveaways for them), and three lucky winners will get their choice from above, in the order in which they are drawn (first chooses, then second, then third).

All you have to do to enter is fill out the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway is open US only, unless you are willing to pay the shipping, and is open through June 8th. You must be 13 or older to enter or have a parent enter for you. The winner will be selected shortly after and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
I hope the winners are as happy as this baby when they receive their prizes.

- Kiersten
I'm sorry about all the gifs.
I almost never use gifs in my posts.
Ok, maybe I'm not sorry. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Review: Seeker - Arwen Elys Dayton

Arwen Elys Dayton 
Series: Seeker, #1
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Thanks to Delacorte Press for the eARC I received via NetGalley!

When I got Seeker I was really excited about it - the concept sounded awesome, and it seemed like there would be a strong female lead. Unfortunately, after reading Seeker, it did not live up to my expectations and was extremely disappointing for me.

The beginning of Seeker is so exciting. Quin, John, and Shinobu are training to become seekers, and they are fierce warriors. The first part of the book (it's divided into three parts) shows the three as they are training and as they become seekers (well, some of them). As is hinted at in the blurb, being a seeker isn't what Quin always imagined and she soon faces the reality of her new title.

After the first part is where I got let down. While that first part is excited and action packed, the second part creates such a lull. It felt to me as though Seeker got lost and couldn't figure out where it was going at this point - several of the characters seemed aimless and just content with not actually doing anything. I was in such shock over how different the book felt here. With the beginning giving off a high fantasy vibe, this shifted to a more futuristic, dystopia - which would have been fine if there had been a little more world building to explain the social construct of this futuristic Hong Kong.

Moving into the third part, the beginning follows much of the same slow pacing and somewhat lackluster plot. The end, getting back to the excitement of the beginning of the book, was a bit of a redeeming factor but not by much. Overall, the plot just wasn't very exciting and I struggled a bit to continue reading.

Even though the plot didn't really grab my attention, sometimes I can still enjoy a book if I like the characters. Unfortunately, I didn't find the characters particularly interesting and I had trouble empathizing or sympathizing with any of them. John had a tragic backstory, which was one thing that kept me interested in him, but even though he used his history to justify what he did, I never felt like it was actually justified nor did I feel he really thought it was justified anyway. It was very strange. The most interesting character to me was actually Maud, only because she seemed to have a very complex past, but she was such a minor part for most of the book.

All in all, I thought the idea behind Seeker was great but the execution was underwhelming. The book seemed like it wasn't entirely sure what it was supposed to be and was an extremely disappointing read.

- Kiersten

What's the most recent book to disappoint you?
Let us know in the comments!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Review: Vigilante - Sarah Fine

Sarah Fine 
Series: Guards of the Shadowlands, #2.5
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon 

Vigilante is a novella set between Fractured and Chaos in the Guards of the Shadowlands series. While the books mainly focus on Lela and Malachi, this novella is focused on Ana and takes place sometime between Sanctum, the first book in the series, and the end of Fractured, the second. Since the premise of this novella is spoilery for Sanctum, I won't be able to post a non-spoiler review. However, I can say that this novella was awesome and definitely worth a read AFTER you read Sanctum AND Fractured! The entire series is available for Kindle Unlimited subscribers, so if you are one, YOU SHOULD GO READ THIS SERIES! IT'S AWESOME!

*This review contains spoilers for Sanctum but not for Fractured. However, the novella does contain spoilers for Fractured and should be read after.*

Vigilante follows Ana after she dies in Sanctum and is released to the Countryside. Unfortunately, Takeshi is not there. While Vigilante is a pretty short novella (about 50 pages) it's completely new content that you will not get from any of the books. While Vigilante is not required before reading Chaos, I think it definitely adds something to the reading experience.

Ana is such a strong female character and it was really exciting to see her in her own story as the narrator. Additionally, the reader finally gets a look into her head, especially her memories of Takeshi. Up to this point in the series, most of the talk about Takeshi came from Malachi so getting to read about Ana's relationship him was really sweet.

Like the rest of the series, Vigilante was both well written and filled with emotional moments. However, this novella doesn't quite reach the 5 star level for me because I predicted the outcome of the story before I even started reading it and it was extremely brief. While it did the job of connecting Fractured and Chaos, I wanted a little bit more - maybe some more events before Ana crosses the desert of the Wastelands. Regardless, I really enjoyed Vigilante and highly recommend it for fans of the Guards of the Shadowlands series!

- Kiersten

Have you read the Guards of Shadowlands series?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Off the Page - Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

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 Off the Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer!

Off the Page
Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer
Release Date: May 19th, 2015
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Waited on by: Noor

From #1 New York Times bestselling authors Jodi Picoult and her daughter and co-writer, Samantha van Leer, comes OFF THE PAGE, a tender and appealing romantic YA novel filled with humor, adventure, and magical relationships.

Sixteen-year-old Delilah is finally united with Oliver—a prince literally taken from the pages of a fairy tale. There are, however, complications now that Oliver has been able to enter the real world. To exist in Delilah’s world, Oliver must take the place of a regular boy. Enter Edgar, who agrees to take Oliver’s role in Delilah’s favorite book. In this multilayered universe, the line between what is on the page and what is possible is blurred, but all must be resolved for the characters to live happily ever after. Includes twelve full-color illustrations, and black-and-white decorations throughout.

Full of humor and witty commentary about life, OFF THE PAGE is a stand-alone novel as well as a companion to the authors’ bestsellerBetween the Lines, and is perfect for readers looking for a fairytale ending. Fans of Sarah Dessen and Meg Cabot are sure to appreciate this novel about love, romance, and relationships.

I am a huge fan of Jodi Picoult and I've loved her work for years. I know she's written another book with her daughter but I haven't gotten around to reading that quite yet and when I saw that this was coming out, the plot looked so promising and I figured I'd get to see how their writing styles compliment each other and if her daughter takes after Picoult in the fantastic writing ability field. It comes out in just a few days and I'm looking forward to it, especially since it's just in time for the end of my semester!

- Noor

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

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Authors I REALLY Want to Meet

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Here at We Live and Breathe Books, two of us choose five books each week. This week's topic is...

Authors I REALLY want to meet!

Kiersten's Picks
I have been lucky enough in the past to have met many of my favorite authors - Cassandra Clare, Rainbow Rowell, Rick Riordan, Sarah J. Maas, and more. However, there are still plenty of other awesome writers who I'd love to meet.
  1. Susan Kaye Quinn - I have loved every Susan Kaye Quinn book I have ever read. I think Susan Kaye Quinn is probably one of the most interesting authors out there, having actually been a rocket scientist and now writing incredibly amazing indie YA. She's just so cool and I want to meet her.
  2. Shana Abé - One thing that's great about Shana Abé is all the conversations she has with her pets. I think we'd definitely get along well. I'm also in love with her The Sweetest Dark series (even though it feels like the third book is never coming out sob). 
  3. Rachel Hawkins - Rachel Hawkins is Lady Hawkins on Twitter. That already makes her cooler than most of the people I know. I'm also a huge fan of the Hex Hall series and I hope to read Rebel Belle soon. 
  4. Sarah Fine - I love her Guards of the Shadowlands series and all the characters so much. The way Sarah Fine writes her characters is definitely a tell to how she examines the world. I think having a conversation with her about people would just be an interesting thing.
  5. John Green - I mean, I think everyone who has read and enjoyed a John Green book wants to meet John Green. He seems like a chill dude.
Noor's Picks
Like Kiersten, I've also met a lot of authors I really love, like Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Veronica Roth, Michael Grant, and a lot more than I probably deserve to have met. Although, there are plenty more I would jump through hoops for the opportunity to meet, and thus here are 5 that I haven't yet met but would absolutely love to. 
  1. Neil Gaiman - I've mentioned it many times, but Neil Gaiman is my favorite author and I'm in love with the way he writes and crafts stories. I did see him at a panel at BEA, which is where I received my signed copies of Fortunately, the Milk and his Make Good Art speech in book form, but I didn't actually meet him, I just saw him speak and I really want to meet him and tell him how much his work means to me. 
  2. JK Rowling - You had to see this one coming, honestly, and it's very self-explanatory. Why wouldn't I want to meet the woman whose books shaped my entire childhood and what few years of adulthood I've experienced? If I could meet JK Rowling, I could die happy.
  3. Rainbow Rowell - Kiersten went to the launch event for Landline last year where she met Rainbow Rowell (and David Levithan cries), so she's a step ahead of me here. I absolutely love her writing style and the heartwarming, quirky nature of her books and she seems like she'd be a really cool person and I want to meet her very much.
  4. Jennifer E. Smith - So I'm 700% trash and her only work that I've read is The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (review here) but 1. I absolutely loved it (my copy is currently making its rounds through my group of 3 best friends who are also enjoying it) and thought it was such a well-written, wonderful read and 2. I get such good vibes from her books if that makes any sense and they are on my reading list I just have a lot of other stuff on there too but I really want to meet her, I think she'd be adorable. 
  5. Yann Martel - I've read two of his works and I find his writing to be stunning and intriguing. His style has this air about it that makes me want to read his words forever and I like how he can be so dynamic with his writing because the two books I read were so different from one another. I'm just interested in meeting him and hearing what he has to say. 
What authors do you want to meet?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Review: Through Fire & Sea - Nicole Luiken

Through Fire & Sea
Nicole Luiken 
Series: Otherselves, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon

Thanks to Entangled Teen for the eARC!

Last year, I read Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini, the first book I've read about parallel worlds and other-selves. Because I really enjoyed Trial by Fire (review here), I was approached to review Through Fire & Sea. These books definitely had a similar vibe, with other-selves in other-worlds, but they were also very different, and I'm happy to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Through Fire & Sea!

The beginning of Through Fire & Sea throws a lot at the reader right away - there's a lot of otherworldly jargon very quick in the beginning - but once I figured out what was going on, I found it a lot easier to get into the story. In the story, the land where Leah is from is being attacked by a dragon. As a way to get rid of the dragon, the duke sends Leah, his illegitimate daughter, with Qeturah, a sorceress who can send the dragon away. Qeturah teaches Leah that she can call her otherselves from mirror worlds, and from there, Leah and her otherself Holly's lives become intertwined.

One thing I was at first skeptical about but ended up really loving about Through Fire & Sea was the way it combined a totally fantastical world with the world we know and live in. The way Nicole Luiken wove the two worlds together was both fascinating and extremely well executed. It was really cool to see the juxtaposition between the two worlds and their characters.

Similarly to how the two very different worlds mixed together well, I really enjoyed how each character had a double in the other world and seeing how they could act similarly or completely differently. Like I said earlier in the review, even though this aspect was really similar to Trial by Fire, the execution was absolutely different and just as enjoyable. Another great thing about the two different characters was seeing how Leah, who lived in a world that felt like it was from long ago, reacted to Holly's modern world. Both Leah and Holly were strong and independent in their own ways, but it always felt like they were two separate and very different people.

The entire concept behind Through Fire & Sea was so interesting and I really enjoyed the journey. I'm so excited to see where Nicole Luiken goes with the rest of the mirror worlds in the Otherselves series. Book two will not come soon enough! I highly recommend this for fans of fantasy, parallel worlds, and Trial by Fire!

- Kiersten

What do you think your otherself would be like?
Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Stuffed Animal Saturday [23]

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!

This Saturday, Olaf and I are reading Song of the Shank by Rachel Jeffery Renard Allen.

So far: Olaf loves music and history. Jeffery Renard Allen's novel is about a blind black musician in the Reconstruction era. Perfect. While Olaf has no ears, he seems to understand what I'm reading him, and he seems to like it so far.

Sneak peek: While Olaf and I fought on the importance of parenthesis and if poetic prose should just be prose or poetry, a beautiful set of lines drifted up from the novel like pitched snow.
"But Tom, planted on his bench, fingers skipping like grasshoppers across the keys, doesn't seem to notice her standing there right next to him . . . he throws his head back and takes a deep draft, throat working, until the glass is empty . . . he takes more time with the second glass, drinking and blowing melodies into the liquid at the same time. Drains the third -- see, you should have brought the bottle, or made a fuss -- then bites the rim in place between his teeth, the glass attached to his face like a transparent beak, both hands free to roam over the keyboard. Tom drinking milk, making an event of it." (Allen, 9)
I just think that was damn clever, and Olaf agrees. So far, there's been a lot of circular poetry about the movement and behavior of characters intersected every so often with just enough of real life to keep the novel alive. Can't wait to review this!

- Marlon

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