Monday, September 30, 2013

Review: Oblivion - Anthony Horowitz

Whoa, I just realized the titles of all
the books are places. 
Anthony Horowitz
Series: The Power of Five (UK) #5 // The Gatekeepers (US) #5
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Horror
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: How do you do that?
On Goodreads

I have four problems with this novel. One, I keep having to bookmark pages, two, the end is rushed, three, there is some unnecessary repetition, and four, it ends.

Since the novel is told in around a million points of view over eleven main parts, I will forgive the repetition (the bits about Matt making the mistake at the end of Necropolis and taking an extra second or so to name a place for all of the Five to end up comes up again and again and just about every character reflects on it, but it makes sense for them to. Thankfully Lohan silences the topic because Lohan is awesome.) The rushed end I can't forgive, though. The novel is beautifully woven and I was hung on the ends of each page . . . and then the last bits were thrown in my face before I could fully feel them. Not that it's such a horrible thing, I can understand why: the culmination of five books in one defining moment while half the characters are resolving their developments . . . it makes sense. So I won't take much from my rating, because I understand why there are bits that are bothersome, it's that big of a work.

Now onto the other problems. There is so much that is so good I can't actually physically handle it. Oblivion is a masterpiece of fiction. There is a whole new world we are introduced to in the last book of the series and yet Horowitz plays off its attributes as if they were nothing. "I just put my characters into a post-apocalyptic world? Let's torture them!" he says to himself, stroking his cunning wit, sprawled on his throne of plot twists. Each of the sections play out as short stories, and it takes only a short while to see how they're so intertwined. Literally the plot unfolds in such a way that you can't help but stand up and say:

Continuously. At just about every point where Horowitz takes on his I'm about to blow your mind tone. Which is his second language. Specifically the manner in which he describes scenery and other facets of a setting and how amazingly varied the settings are. You would think a war torn, deprived world would be deficient in complex, interesting, or enrapturing settings (past the frightening ones).
Dubai took them by surprise. . . . All the grass had died but the earth that remained was neat and symmetrical. The city didn't seem to have grown. It could have been laid out deliberately piece by piece.
And it was completely deserted.
. . . There wasn't a flicker of movement anywhere. And the very motion of the car as they rolled forward seemed alien and unwanted. (223-224)
In addition, the viewpoints of the characters are amazing. With so many of them, overlaps and repeats can be a problem. But not here. They're all so interesting. From our first narrator, Holly:
It was the week before my sixteenth birthday when the boy fell out of the door and everything changed. Is that a good start? (Horowitz, 1)
To Horowitz's version of a young professor Umbridge:
Jonas Mortlake was not married and had no children of his own. The idea of being close to another human being slightly repulsed him and he particularly disliked women. (64ish. Stupid ebooks.)
Well, and then there's Scott:

The diction and tonal change is literally spot on. Especially for Pedro. Basically if anyone were to portray Pedro with even half a degree of accuracy, they'd deserve a BAFTA on the spot. I stand by this. The scene around these words made me reel horribly. It was almost painful to think about it.
The filth rose over his face, over his head. He could feel it pressing against his eyes. It was utterly and completely revolting. It was worse than death. (157)
And the end, which I bloody knew was coming, felt kind of like this:

A slightly inaccurate portrait
of my heart after the last
couple of chapters.
There is a beautiful short resolution that follows. I have very little to say of it. The messages the book leaves its reader with are many and extensive, spanning many human extreme. There's a lot to say about this novel but it really is an experience that you have to take yourself.

- Marlon

What would you sacrifice for the world, just one tiny chance for the world?
Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Review: Frozen - Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston.

Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston
Series: Heart of Dread, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Paranormal, Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Cool (Get it? Because they live in world of ice? No? Ok.)
On Goodreads

Hello, everyone! I've been really absent lately due to the high volume of work I've been getting at school. Unfortunately, for the time being, I have to switch from reviewing every week to attempting every two weeks. Between all my school reading, finding time to read leisurely is really difficult – more difficult than I would have expected. For the past two weeks, in between all my homework, I've been reading Frozen, and I'm happy to have finally been able to finish it.

After reading a less than positive review about Frozen, I was a bit skeptical to jump into it. I got an uncorrected proof of Frozen at an author signing at BookExpo America this year because the cover and the plot looked really interesting. Luckily, this book did not let me down.

Frozen starts out telling us about Nat and a voice inside her head telling her what to do. From there, she goes on a journey to escape from the frozen land in which she lives and find a hidden paradise called “the Blue” with help from a “runner” named Wes and his crew. Along the way, Nat and Wes’s relationship grows and Nat figures out more and more about who she is.

Although Nat and Wes weren’t my favorite characters of all time, I still enjoyed them and their stories. Nat’s struggle to remember who she was and what she should do about the voice in her head was really interesting because the voice almost had a personality of its own. Nat also intrigued me because she had a range of how she behaved. There are some books with wimpy heroines and some with strong heroines. I’d say Nat falls somewhere in between – she tries to be brave, but sometimes she gets scared and needs Wes to come help her out. Nat is also interesting because she struggles how she sees herself. She so wants to be good, but she’s convinced she’s a monster. Watching her grow and begin to accept herself throughout the story was really great.

Similar to Nat, Wes had a good balance of personality. Wes and his crew decide to escort Nat into forbidden territory for money. Jobs and food are scarce in their world of ice, so in order to get “heat credits”, a currency in their world, he takes on the job, even though it’s dangerous. At first, Wes seems really tough and brave – he’s a former soldier who often partakes in spectacles of danger and forbidden adventures. However, we slowly see the other sides to him. We find out some of Wes’s background regarding his family and a sister he is searching for. The way he cares for Nat as well as the rest of his crew also provides a contrast to his initially smug and tough personality.

The one main complaint I have about this book is that there was too much going on and it wasn’t explained thoroughly enough. I really enjoyed hearing about the world and the different aspects, but there seemed to be so many different things being thrown to the reader throughout the book that all those things seemed like random, unrelated tidbits. The world was just so elaborate, which is awesome, but it wasn’t detailed enough to be as good as it could have been.

Other than that small complaint, the story was great and the writing was good as well. I see a lot of potential in this series and I’m interested to see the direction in which the next installment takes. Overall, I’d definitely recommend Frozen to lovers of dystopian and fantasy. The story has great pacing and keeps the reader interested as Nat, Wes, and the crew journey towards the Blue.

- Kiersten

Would you be willing to risk your life in search of a rumored paradise?
Let us know in the comments!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Review: Paper Towns - John Green

Paper Towns
John Green
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Glorious
On Goodreads

After seeing that Marlon reviewed An Abundance of Katherines, I figured I absolutely had to review my favorite John Green book of all time: Paper Towns. There are so many great things about this book, so let's not waste any more time before delving into why you should be reading this book right now.

One of the main reasons I love this book oh so much is the characters. Not because the characters are perfect and smart and good at everything, but because they're not. John Green did a very good job of creating flawed characters, and not only were they more relatable to than many "my-life-is-perfect-except-for-this-one-dilemma-I-have-that-will-be-resolved-by-the-end-of-this-book" characters that are common in YA literature. For example, there is Margo Roth Spiegelman. Oh, Margo, I have so much to say about you. Margo Roth Spiegelman is an enigma. Our protagonist, Quentin, does not quite understand her, with her strange quirks like being "a big believer in random capitalization [because] the rules of capitalization are so unfair to words in the middle" or summoning him in the middle of the night to go on some crazy adventure. Margo is very disenchanted with the world, and specifically the area, she lives in. She craves something more, something that will make her feel whole on the inside. And even though during the course of this novel, she tries to achieve her "something more," I think Margo will always be running. She thinks leaving her "paper town" will change things, but as a person, she'll never be able to stay grounded where she is. She needs the "getting away" part more than she needs a place to go. And I love that about her, as a character, because a lot of people feel trapped where they are in life and Margo exemplifies those feelings very well. Quentin is enamored with Margo and one of his biggest flaws is seeing her as something she isn't. He tries to romanticize her and never realizes how misguided his intentions are. These two characters are very different and I think the best incident illustrating this happens when they are both very little (about 9 years old) and happen upon a man who has killed himself in the park they went to go play at one day.
"I took two small steps backwards. I remember thinking that if I made any sudden movements, he might wake up and attack me. Maybe he was a zombie. I knew zombies weren't real, but he sure looked like a potential zombie.
As I took those two steps back, Margo took two equally small and quiet steps forward. 'His eyes are open,' she said.
'Wegottagohome,' I said.
'I thought you closed your eyes when you died,' she said.
She took another step. She was close enough now to reach out and touch his foot."
I think this scene shows just how different the two are. Quentin wants to leave and forget it happened. Margo is intrigued and wants to know why it happened and who he was and all these details about this man she doesn't know.
Other than these two lovely human beings, I also really loved reading about Quentin's friends, Ben and Radar. They both added so much to this novel. They served to often bring Quentin down to earth, they were very supportive friends but harsh when they needed to be, and they were two hilarious individuals. I loved them so much. One of my favorite parts was when Radar said "The last time I was this scared, I actually had to face a Dark Lord in order to make the world safe for wizards." This made them seem more realistic as characters, because my friends and I make references to things like books and movies all the time, so it really helped set the dynamic between the friends.

Now that I'm done with my tangent about the characters, I just want to mention John Green's writing style, which I love with all my heart. I think the way he phrases things is so eloquent and flows so well that I often have to stop reading just to take in the words themselves. However, he does this in such a way that it doesn't sound odd coming from the mouth (mind?) of a teenage boy, because he mixes in Quentin's voice so well it just seems natural. He has some wonderful gems in his writing, like my personal favorites:
"Maybe all the strings inside of him broke."
"The town was paper, but the memories were not."
Ugh, I just love those lines so much, and everything they represent. They might have more effect on someone who has read the book than someone who hasn't, but you're all smart readers, and it's very easy to understand what is meant just by reading the quotes themselves.

Besides the pretty words and fluid writing, John Green also has some hilarious character quotes. The one that comes to mind first is "IT'S NOT MY FAULT THAT MY PARENTS OWN THE WORLD'S LARGEST COLLECTION OF BLACK SANTAS," spoken by the one and only Radar. If you want context for than one, you're gonna have to read it yourself.

So basically, this book is wonderful, and you should read it, and it will definitely be worth your time, and it's a pretty short read, and you will not be disappointed.

- Noor

Have you ever wanted to run away from where you live?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Dangerous Dream - Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

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 Dangerous Dream by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

Dangerous Dream
Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Series:  Dangerous Creatures, #0.5
Release Date: December, 17th 2013
Publisher:  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Waited on by: Kiersten
On Goodreads

The #1 New York Times bestselling Beautiful Creatures series continues in this brand-new digital-exclusive story.

Catch up with Ethan, Lena, and Link as they finally graduate from high school and get ready to leave the small Southern town of Gatlin. But when Dark Caster Ridley makes an appearance, the sometime bad girl can't resist picking a fight with her sometime boyfriend, Link. Angry and rebellious as ever, Ridley ends up alone in New York City and becomes entangled in the dangerous underground Caster club scene, where the stakes are high and losers pay the ultimate price.

Where's a Linkubus when you need him?

As a fan of the Beautiful Creatures series, I almost died when I found out about this spin off series. I actually ran around the hall of my dorm screaming and fangirling about a new series centered around two of my favorite characters: Link and Ridley. Hearing about this new series is probably one of the greatest things that's happened lately. I really cannot wait to see what Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl have in store for us with Link and Ridley's stories!

- Kiersten

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

Monday, September 23, 2013

Review: The Fall of Five - Pittacus Lore

The Fall of Five
Pittacus Lore
Series: Lorien Legacies, #4
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Connective
On Goodreads

Can you hear the excited fangirl squeaks coming from the depths of my inner self?
I've been waiting to read this for a while, and though school got in the way, I've finally got my hands on a copy. Let's do this.

Almost spot on perfect. So close. It seems like the new ghostwriter has settled in and that gives me hope. (Slight background, the original ideas stemmed from James Frey, who is of questionable morals, but like Ender's Game, judge the work). Though The Rise of Nine was stunningly written and constructed, at times it felt as if the new author was trying just a bit too hard to emulate the thought's and personalities of already-established characters. This quality was considerably diminished in The Fall of Five. I only caught a few times where I felt as if there was a disconnect:
Tell me everything, Sam. I feel like I've missed so much. (Lore, 19)
Spoiler: Sam meets his dad! Anyway, in the scene around the above quote, the author could have done so much, even with simple physical gestures (but maybe I was spoiled by the first two books, which made good use of that technique). By itself, it seems tacky and almost cliché, and that's enough to knock a bit of hydrogen out of my five stars.

However, that disconnect is slight and soon is totally forgotten as the book begins to unfold. It begins forward and dramatic in a dank Mogadorian prison, with Sam as our deprived and delirious narrator. His mindset is absolutely "grungy" and he introduces us to the story as only he can: fantasizing about Six rescuing him from his deadly prison, killing off a horde of Mogs in the process.

This novel is fast-paced, and almost never lets go. There are a few huge spoilers that I want so badly to share because they are gripping. However, I cannot, because plot construction is what makes these novels so bloody good. You've got your typical heroes and antiheroes and romances and jokers and completely evil villains, but the manner in which it is presented and how slowly but surely the whole history and plot is revealed, and the secrets therein that always seem to change everything, are what keep me reading. I will say that, unlike some novels these days, it is somewhat difficult to trust any predictions towards the end of the plot, or even the middle. I'll admit, I did not expect the twists on the characters that unravel and unwind in the end, but these, two lines taken from around the end, basically resound what I mean:
It all happens so fast. (207)
And then:
How did I get here? (208) 
This novel is built around a sinuous plot (spanning Nine's amazing Penthouse to the humid Everglades), with intermittent stresses on the elements of romance (who doesn't ship Marina and Eight?). Though only stressed as a secondary element, romance (and to a greater extent, trust, appreciation, compassion, and love) is a primary drive for many of our characters, especially for John. First of all, it keeps Sarah relevant and meaningful instead of just a goal or a dream to pursue, and secondly, it challenges him: despite the world on the brink of war, he is stuck between his Earthly girlfriend and his duties to another planet.

Development also brings depth to the story, because most of the characters are fairly dynamic whilst still keeping strong core aspects. For example, Nine is still a jerk, however, this
"Seriously, bro, sorry about leaving you in the cave. That was sort of my fault." 
. . . "So they put you through it, huh?" he solemnly asks. (96)
Would have been a hilarious spectacle in The Rise of Nine. Nine does not get apologetic, and does not feel connections with people other than when he plants his fist in their faces. He's one of my favorite characters because he has so much depth even though he seems like he has no depth at all. Unfortunately for him, though, his stubbornness and provocative nature do not bode well for our cast. I won't tell you why, it's a tear you must shed alone.

Another huge element is the humor. It varies from light to just plain sassy (usually brought to you from the glorious mouth of Nine . . . ) and is almost always circumstantial.
"If you're wondering what the horrible smell is, it's the vegetarian food Marina's cooking for dinner," says Nine. 
This acts as an effortless transition from the end of an empowering, yet tiring, mission, to the start of an expository scene. In that same manner, much of the book seems effortless, fluidly transforming itself from action to moral discussion to exposition, all through a plot that upholds suspense and mystery almost like it has no other function. It is for this reason and plenty more nuances that I won't waste your time with because that would make this review pages long, that The Fall of Five is a top-notch novel in my opinion.

- Marlon

Would you take the fear and anxiety and torture of being a hero if it meant you held the security of a universe on your shoulders?
Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Stuffed Animal Saturday [4]

Stuffed Animal Saturday is a meme that we post here at We Live and Breathe Books every two weeks 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!

Hi guys! So I know it's been absolutely forever since I lasted posted (senior year is jam packed) but I wanted to share this with you. I have lots of stuffed animals but Coconut has got to be my favorite. This little guy has been with me since kindergarten, and I can't bear to think of my backpack or purse without him. Since he's been around for so long, he knows a lot about my tastes in literature, and frankly, he agrees with all of them.

So Far: When I began reading Silent Harmony by Michelle Scott, I expected a charming book about horses, and so did Coconut. This book is so far less about horses and much more about rich kids being snobby. Vivienne, our main narrator is completely lovely, and tells most of the story with a distinct voice, which the other (ehm) sub-narrators lacked. Coconut is finding the story as lacking cohesiveness so far, and I have to agree him. The book fluctuates between being about teen romance, to horses whose minds can be read, to murder. Like, what. Coconut wants everyone to slow down and chill and realize what's going on, and so do I.

A Sneak Peek: 
"I've seen angry eyes, kind eyes, eyes filled with fear or poison, but vacant is all new to me."
One thing Coconut and I can agree upon? Our eyes were never vacant when reading this book, and we can't wait to finish it.

- Amrutha

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

Friday, September 20, 2013

Review: Graceling - Kristin Cashore

Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling Realm, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy 
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Interesting
On Goodreads

Read this book.
Pick it up. Open it. Start reading.
And then, even if you really want to stop, or read it later, or go do something else, keep reading.
Keep reading until you finish the book.
And then come back and thank me.
Or throw things at me, depending on whether you enjoyed the book or not.
The point I am trying to make here is that Graceling is a wonderful book, but it did start off a little shaky. While the storyline in the beginning was fine, the writing style didn't exactly leave me thinking this was that great of a book. This soon changed, however, as I grew to appreciate the way Kristin Cashore phrased things and the way her characters stood out. There are so many elements that just make this a great novel, and I know I can't wait until I have a chance to read more books from the Graceling Realm.

Katsa, our protagonist, is someone who has been "Graced" -- given a strong ability or power -- with killing. This causes a lot of people to stay away from her, even though she is good at heart. The story revolves around her journey with Prince Po, and also the eventual romance that results between them. I really love how headstrong and tough Katsa is. She doesn't take rudeness or misbehavior from people. Katsa is not afraid to tell people what she thinks. I love that even though she is so strong, she is also human, and sometimes makes rash decisions. Overall, I really like Katsa and her tough nature.

In fact, this book is filled with awesome characters. Po is also a great character, and his kindness and generosity are very refreshing. Reading about his encounters with Katsa kept making me curious as to how the two would supplement each other's personalities. King Leck was another character I really liked reading about, although I felt immense hatred for him as a person. And we can't forget dear Bitterblue, of course. Her character was so intriguing, another book in this series is named after her. Basically, Kristin Cashore did a fantastic job creating characters that were brought to life and affected her audience.

The writing itself of this book is very interesting. In the beginning, I wasn't sure if I liked it or not because it sounded a bit juvenile to me. However, the style of narration grew on me and I can't imagine the book written any other way.
There are some wonderful gems of description, like:
"She'd never seen silver trees that climbed straight up into the sky, and rock and snow that climbed even higher, to peaks impossibly high that shone gold in the sun." 
"Katsa lay on her back and looked up at the high ceiling. The light poured into the room from the great, east-facing windows. The days were beginning to shorten. The air would crispen soon, and the castle would smell like wood burning in the fireplaces."
I love the simplicity of Cashore's words -- they manage to be concise but still get her point across. The very beginning of the book, however, was not as well written and seemed somewhat choppy and not the greatest. However, the choppiness went away and left the reader with wonderful narration and a great story.

I would definitely recommend Graceling to everyone. I think it's a spectacular book that has an interesting voice and awesome characters and I, for one, cannot wait to get my hands on the other books that take place in this realm.
- Noor

What are you really good at?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Review: An Abundance of Katherines - John Green

An Abundance of Katherines
John Green
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Realistic Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Clear
On Goodreads

Let me start off by saying I have not actually read this book in its entirety. Rather, a good half it was read to me, which I definitely recommend if you have anyone that can read with a horrible southern accent.

Anyway. Four stars, and three reasons I'm hoping will convince you of this novel's splendiferousness. Seriously, it's rather difficult to think about this novel in another way; I can't use real words because then I'll slightly understand what I mean and that's never meant to happen with a John Green book.

First off, I had a lot of expectations for Katherines. It's a John Green book, I thought excitedly, it must be as beautifully depressing as TFIOS and just as complex and . . . yeah. Do not go into this book with such expectations because it's not wildly compelling or fascinating; I did not connect with our three main characters (other than Lindsey at times) because the novel plays out more like a narrative and it took me until rather late to start sympathizing at all with Colin's angst-inducing problems. He seemed so miserably static for such a long time and I could not see past his quirks and his whining. The big punchline has loads of powerful rippling effects for Colin and his life, but it wasn't until this that I really felt some good, sincere, accepting, and unrewarded thought from Colin:
I will get forgotten, but the stories will last. (Green, 213)
And now onto why this book is so good. Though somewhat repetitious, the humor is woven into nearly every detail and keeps us from tearing into Colin's quirky-for-a-bit-then-slightly-irritating Colin-ness. Every so often, man boobs and stupid male jokes keep the fire alive. It's hard to separate the humor from Colin and Hassan's relationship, which I think deserved a bit more exposition but at the same time, was beautifully displayed. Hassan is the type of laid back, kind of horrible, slobish, philosophical best friend that Colin needs to keep himself upbeat. Though not all bits will leave you dry heaving, the humor doesn't stop. (Note: the footnotes are literally the best bits in terms of humor. If nothing else, people seem to appreciate and praise them the most and I could not agree more, they disrupt the narration and inject some pretty fantastic John Green wit into other pieces of fantastic, John Green wit.)
The Arabic seemed to render everyone uncomfortable or something, because no one talked for a few minutes except Hassan, who kept saying that the quail (it was quail, not tiny chicken) was excellent. And it was good, Colin supposed, if you happened to enjoy searching through an endless labyrinth of bones and cartilage for the occasional sliver of meat. (63)
The narration is fantastically simple, but there is an amazing amount of depth and consideration to those words, as evidenced by the math. The math was one of my favorite bits not only because it adds layers to the story, and because it's actually fascinating to try to understand; the simple fact that John Green had someone help construct the foundation for those math layers is just astounding. So much work was put into this book, and I respect that. There is a genuine drive behind Colin's efforts to be remembered, to change the world in a way that only teenagers desire to, and that is the second layer of depth that I pull from, because it resonates with me and anyone who has ever felt underwhelmed by themselves.

- Marlon

What are your quirks?
Let us know in the comments!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Review: Cinder - Marissa Meyer

Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #1
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Refreshingly Cool
On Goodreads

So I've had a very busy week (actually, a very busy few weeks, ever since college started) and I haven't had too much time to read. I'm still reading when I can, but I haven't had time to finish any thing from last week until this one, so I'm writing a review on a book I've previously read. Now, I don't have this book with me (I could only bring a few books with me to college because of the whole space issue and sadly, Cinder had to stay home) so I can't really give you any quotes or anything but I will still review it to the best of my ability!

Cinder was one of those impulse I'm-at-an-enormous-bookstore-in-Boston-and-I'm-going-to-grab-everything-that-looks-remotely-interesting buys. And I am definitely glad I made that impulsive grab, because it's a great book that I really liked. The book takes place in a distant future and centers around Cinder, a cyborg mechanic who lives with a stepmother who hates her cyborg nature, a stepsister of the same mindset, and a kinder, more loving stepsister. The story revolves around her entanglement with Prince Kai and company, the Lunar people, the plague, and her internal struggle to suppress certain desires and do what's right. Honestly, this book is just great. There are so many different plot lines that just connect so beautifully at the end. There are some things mentioned in the beginning of the book that tie in to the end that you would never have seen coming.And there are so many aspects of the plot that intertwine with each other and compliment each other that made me really love Cinder.

I also really loved the characters. Cinder is so dynamic and I love the way she thinks and speaks and acts. I also loved Prince Kai both as a person and a character. One of my favorite characters was Queen Levana. While I didn't care for her personality, her character intrigued me and I wanted to know more about her. Meyer did a great job making all her characters three dimensional and interesting.

The writing style was also very developed. While it wasn't perfect, elegant, oh-my-goodness-I-fell-off-my-chair writing, Marissa Meyers really captured Cinder's voice and distinguished her writing style from that of other writers in the genre. The narration made the book hard to put down, as I found myself just wanting to hear more of Cinder's thoughts and see how the story would pan out. While I thought a certain part of the end was a bit predictable, it was definitely a good creative decision and didn't at all deter from the beautiful way the different aspects of the story converged. Overall, this book was really enjoyable and I can't wait until I have time to read the next one in the series.

- Noor

Have you ever been negatively judged for something out of your control?
Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Review: The Deepest Night - Shana Abé

The Deepest Night
Shana Abé
Series: The Sweetest Dark, #2
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Amazing
On Goodreads

I can’t even begin to express how well The Deepest Night follows The Sweetest Dark. If you read my review of The Sweetest Dark (here), you’d know that I loved it. With how much I loved it, The Sweetest Dark was a hard act to follow; however, The Deepest Night did not disappoint.

The Deepest Night picks up the story not very long after the end of the first book. Because most of the plot line for this follow-up either spoils the first book or this one, I can’t go into too much detail about the plot, but this story is filled with action. During The Deepest Night, Lora finishes up her year at Iverson and, however reluctantly, joins Armand at his family home as a nurse for the military hospital he established there. Through various events, Lora and Armand are off, venturing into the warfront to find a drákon who is being held captive. The way this story twists and turns kept me so interested in what was going to happen. I found myself worrying about whether or not Lora and Armand would make it out alive and accomplish their goal. Shana Abé perfectly mixes such action packed scenes with sweet and heartfelt ones, allowing a wonderful story to unfold with characters that feel so real.

Just like in the first book, I LOVE LORA. Lora is just so great. While still being her sassy and strong self, Lora grows a lot in this story. The reader begins to see a more thoughtful and caring side to her. While in the first book she was mostly concerned about herself, she is not learning how to be fully conscious to the people around her and how her actions may affect them.

Then there’s Armand. In the first book, I didn’t really love Armand. I didn’t hate him, but he definitely didn’t strike me as a wonderful character. In The Deepest Night, however, he definitely grew on me. I started to see who he truly was, rather than the duke’s son who needs to get what he wants, and how deep his emotions ran. It was a refreshing change from his character in the first book.

Overall, there is really nothing I would change about The Deepest Night. Shana Abé creates such wonderful characters in a wonderful world filled with wonderful mythology through wonderful writing. Not only is the plot interesting, but also the way she paces all the events is absolutely perfect. If you haven’t started reading this series yet, I highly recommend that you pick up The Sweetest Dark and delve into the world of the drákon.

- Kiersten

Have you read any follow up books in a series that you felt did not disappoint?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Allegiant - Veronica Roth

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 Allegiant by Veronica Roth.

Veronica Roth
Series:  Divergent, #3
Release Date: October 22nd, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins
Waited on by: Noor
On Goodreads

One choice will define you. 

What if your whole world was a lie? What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything? What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected? 

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories. But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love. Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

I am SO excited for Allegiant it's ridiculous. After reading Divergent and falling in love and then reading Insurgent and having my heart ripped out of my chest, I am craving more of Veronica Roth's striking writing and glorious plot lines and wonderful character development. Her last two books essentially resulted in me flailing and staring at the pages in shock and acting like a madwoman but I'm back for more and I really need to know how the story continues and how it pans out and what happens to certain characters (can't go into detail because spoilers) and how Tris deals with everything and who lives and who dies and how it all ends. I'm just really excited and I can't wait until next month to read this book because I know I'll be in for a lot of feelings and a rollercoaster of a novel.

- Noor

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

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Release Day Review: The Waking Dark - Robin Wasserman

17061489 The Waking Dark
Robin Wasserman
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Mystery
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Forward
On Goodreads

Do you like easy-going romantic YA novels with a bit of the supernatural and a dash of fantasy and ooh, just a pinch of mystery? Do you like clear cut moral lines and protags that are just plain perfect? Do you like rainbows and unicorns and sunshine and not having detailed descriptions of all of your most realistic nightmares about murder?

Then turn around. Basically, run. This book is not for you. I'm not easily scared, but I'm a big boy and am willing to admit that this novel was chilling. It's rather in your face about the violent, aggressive details (not on the level but not unlike Stephan King), but it's not particularly scary. Rather, it, in detail, describes and defines the human mind in its extremes. It involves crucifixion, infanticide, even stake burning, from various points of views.

Enter Oleander, Kansas. Silent, small town that would have never made the history books. Until the Killing Day, where Oleander finds twelve of its own dead by their friends and family, who proceeded to kill themselves. All but one, who can't even remember the horrors she committed. The town is quarantined after a torndado, and something, some disease begins to manifest in the denizens of Oleander. The characters that deliver us this story are quite important: we've a baby-killer, religious nut, a girl whose family has ties in meth, a jock with a dark secret and a survivor boy.

Everyone's as screwed up and damaged as each other, then.

It is that disease, if I can call it that, that is the most terrifying and intriguing, appalling and consuming aspect of the novel. Within the first few chapters we are given firsthand accounts of all of the murders. We are given the reigns and the eyes of these characters and asked if we can handle the mental experience. We are drawn into the story, this disease, this insanity, might be a part of us as well, a part without control or what we so blindly label humanity.

I'm not going to quote here because that defeats the spirit of the book: the narrative (including diction, syntax, etc.) are all engines fueling excess of events. This is a plot-and-character-heavy novel. You will learn and question the human condition and various philosophical bits and whether or not to kill yourself. However, you won't receive it in long monologues or epic situations. It is highly experiential and Wesserman does a world of a job in simultaneously chilling his reader, connecting his reader, and challenging his reader.

For example, when the down was ravaged by the tornado, I felt genuinely concerned and scared. How bad can it get!? Well, Wasserman is the queen of plunging her characters into even deeper pits. After the tornado, the town is in a state of horrible disarray, everyone is frightened like mad. There is no circulation of any kind of reliable information or provisions, authorities are bunk, rage and a kind of exhaustion with the situation positively correlates with even more meth, and basically everything's gone to shit.

I've never read a YA book that was so . . . deadly. The conclusion may or may not have you wringing anxiety from your sweat-drenched hair (it did for me because of course, suspense does not let up), but in all I've got to give it to Wasserman for this really monstrous piece of literature.

- Marlon

Could you forgive yourself for committing a crime you didn't consciously commit, even if that crime was murder?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Review - Death Comes to Pemberley - P.D. James

Death Comes to Pemberley
P.D. James
Series: N/A
Genre: Mystery, British Lit
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Hideous
On Goodreads

If you guys should know one thing about me, it's how much I LOVE Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I fell in love with the Great Illustrated Classics version of it when I was in fourth grade and fell even more in love with the original in eighth. It is my pick-me-up book when I am feeling down. I relish in the classiness that is Darcy and the intelligence that is Elizabeth. I have read fanfiction about Lizzie and Darcy, all of which I loved. Unfortunately, that fanfiction was better than this novel.

This book was a classic Wegmans buy. It stood out to me on the shelves, looking like a diamond in the rough. The blurb of the book said that the story begins with Lydia's husband, George Wickham being murdered. I was immediately enticed. I HATED Wickham when I read P&P - he is the kind of character that makes you cringe whenever he appears.

However, the book starts out more with an introduction into Pride and Prejudice - so much so that it is a basic regurgitation of it. But, it was a poor regurgitation, making it all the worse. Although, I guess it was expected - P.D. James began the novel with an apology to Jane Austen. I think Jane Austen not only deserves this apology, but a retraction of the book - she is probably rolling around in her grave right now.

More than half the book is "Oh, where did we meet?" or "Tell me how we came into contact again..." - Like okay. I understand you need to give some background to the characters, but do you need to sound like a high school reunion scene? I think not, James. Not only are these characters awkward, they all fall flat. Darcy's charm and Lizzie's wit are completely lost - everyone is a one dimensional static character. My heart sobs at the very thought of what Austen might say if she saw her characters marred like this.

After this introduction stuff ends (it lasts a long time) we finally uncover the plot (or lack thereof) in the story. There's a dead body and a confession and basically the question is now, what happened? (I KNOW. IT'S A SHOCKING QUESTION. YOU WOULD'NT EXPECT IT FROM A MURDER MYSTERY). Not even going to sugarcoat this, THERE WAS NO MYSTERY HERE. There was no discovery of information. Rather, it was just handed over "Did you know ____?" or "As you know _____..." Like what. No. This is not okay. Who let this woman publish this book? Ugh. As a die hard mystery fan, I am displeased. Make my misery stop.

This book even gets a lower rating than Wait for You, by J Lynn, because at least she didn't promise me the appearance of my favorite characters and not deliver.

This was awful. Do yourself a favor, and stick to the original Pride and Prejudice, even though Wickham gets to live in that one.
- Amrutha

What are your favorite fanfic books?
Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Stuffed Animal Saturday [3]

Stuffed Animal Saturday is a meme that we post here at We Live and Breathe Books every two weeks 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!

Hey it's Marlon here and since I don't have any stuffed animals because I'm a terrible human being, I'll be using my guitar, Jessie, for this experiment (I'll steal a few stuffed animals for other books but for now, I refuse to do so because stuffed animals and I do not get along). Jessie and I are currently reading Thomas Paine's Common Sense.

So Far: Jessie rather likes Paine's words, and how easy they are to understand, especially for a lower middle-class, working guitar like himself. Unfortunately, since Jessie is a guitar and therefore cannot read for himself, I must do so, and though I love Paine, there is some rather confusing syntax (it was written like forever and a half ago, probably before dinosaurs; I suspect this Thomas Paine is a cultured and revolutionary Pterodactyl). It is a short essay but because Jessie does not understand the meaning of getting to the point, I've had to read through the tough, dry introduction by the editor. Sigh.

A Sneak Peek: 
Time makes more converts than reason.
Oh boy does Jessie love this. No amount of logic can immediately lift someone out of believing anything at all. But time begets the ultimate experience; it teaches us even as we are unwilling to learn. Jessie really loves the political and social bits of this book and it's a must read for any cultured human being (just kidding, but it's a kicker to cite it in most history classes and it's written by a pterodactyl!).

- Marlon

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

Friday, September 6, 2013

Review: Fortunately, the Milk - Neil Gaiman

Fortunately, the Milk
Neil Gaiman
Series: N/A
Genre: Children's Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Delightful
On Goodreads

If I haven't mentioned it already, I absolutely and utterly adore Neil Gaiman. He's one of my favorite authors and I admire the things that man can do with his words. So when I saw that he would be speaking at BookExpo America, and giving signed ARC's of his new book there, I jumped at the chance. Fortunately, the Milk was the first BEA book I read (I opened it the second I got home) and now, three months later, I am going to rave about how perfect it is to those of you reading this. Shall we begin?

This book, while technically a "children's" book, can definitely be enjoyed by any person of any age (this is actually true of most children's books -- they are appreciable in a much different way when one is older than they are when read by a child). Fortunately, the Milk is full of straightforward, but powerful writing and wonderful illustrations and a riveting plot full of aliens and magic and dinosaurs.

The story starts out simply enough, with a father trying to get some milk for his children. However, he takes a bit longer than expected, and is greeted with the question: "Where have you been all this time?" This turns into the hilarious little story that follows.

Apparently, in the trip back from the store, he had encountered all sorts of strange things, like:
"The odd thing was the beam of light that came out of the disk--a glittery, shimmery beam of light that was visible even in the daylight. And the next thing I knew, I was being sucked up into the disc."
"That man in that balloon stole my milk. We are lost in the past, with jungles and pirates and volcanoes."
"We were floating above a landscape of ominous towers and disquieting castles. It was not a friendly place. Bats flew across the sky in huge flocks, crowding out the waning moon."
or even
"There were red and blue flashing lights and then, stepping off their space-bikes, were about half a dozen uniformed dinosaurs, holding unmistakably large and extremely serious weapons. They pointed their weapons at the green globby aliens." 
As you can see, this man had quite an adventure. As the story goes on, it keeps getting more and more ridiculous. There are pirates and vampires and stegosauruses who happen to be doctors. There are volcanoes and time machines and paradoxes and aliens. There are pink flamingos and hot air balloons. Throughout all of this though, the dad holds on to the milk. Every new development is punctuated with the phrase "fortunately, the milk" followed by some crazy explanation to how on earth he managed to keep the milk. Eventually, he gives the milk to his children who don't exactly believe his crazy story.

Overall, this was such a fun and light read. One of my favorite things about it were the illustrations. Skottie Young deserves a lot of credit for illustrating scenes that are funny or powerful and for bringing the story to life. I also loved the typography used in the book. Some words would be written super tiny while others would be huge. Some phrases were twisted around the page like my mind was wrapped around this story. It added a unique element to it and helped exaggerate and highlight certain points.

Fortunately, the Milk is one of the best children's stories I have ever read and I loved every bit of it. But then again, what else would you expect from the wondrous Neil Gaiman?
- Noor

What's the craziest excuse you've ever come up with?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What's Up Right Now

Hello, everyone! We Live and Breathe Books has never had a post dedicated to what's going on with us, and I thought that with our increase in followers, this might be a good opportunity to try it out.

I'd first like to thank all of our followers for following our blog. It really means a lot to us. We put a lot of time and effort into putting this together and seeing that people are reading our blog is the most amazing feeling.

I'd also like to give a bit of information about all the bloggers and what's going on in their lives right now.

Kiersten (that's me!)
I've recently started college at Syracuse University as a theater design major. I'm really enjoying my time here and all the great people, but I'm still working out how class, homework, socializing, and blogging all fit together. I will need to make a friend of time management!

Noor has recently started school at The College of New Jersey as a journalism and professional writing major. Like me, she's getting used to college life and all the new people.

Marlon (aka Swordfish Horski)
Marlon has recently flown off to London for a year of study abroad as part of New York University's global liberal studies program. A whole year! With the time difference, he can be a bit difficult to reach (although, I must admit, he's always been somewhat unreachable...), but we're learning how to adjust.

Amrutha is starting her senior year in high school today! Exciting, right? She's in a bunch of AP classes, and basically she's just going to have a lot of work all year. Luckily, she's a fast reader and can get through books quickly for reviews (unlike me).

If you'd like to read more about each of us, check out the "About Us" tab for our bios!

On another note, as We Live and Breathe Books is a new blog, we want to hear from you! We want to know what works and what doesn't; what you like and what you don't. We'd love to hear from you so we can make our blog more interesting for you. Feel free to comment on any posts or tweet us with any questions or suggestions.

Thank you once again for being our readers. Without you, I'm not sure we're even a blog.

- Kiersten

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Review: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams (Part 2)

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Douglas Adams
Series: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #2
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Comedy
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: What!? What!?
On Goodreads (Note, I link to the author's preferred text.)

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe begins almost too innocently. It leaves one waiting for the weirdness to creep in. If I had to describe the book alone in a word, I would have to go with ridiculous.

Our heroes from the first novel fly off to find something to eat, and are sidetracked considerably; this includes incursions across parallel dimensions and an extremely interesting dialogue with the ruler of our universe.

But be warned. If the first book did not resonate well with you, if you could not handle the weird, weird weirdness of it all or the fantastical improbability, then you will not find comfort or solace or anything of the like here. You will only find unparalleled wit, feisty humor, and an enrapturing plot line that defies what plot lines are made off.

However in this novel, Adams's ideals stand out a bit more, because we've become more familiar with his characters and extraordinary ability to surprise us at any given time. For example: "The guide is definitive. Reality is frequently inaccurate." Though obviously the punchline to a joke, we know that the conflicts between different opinions often skew everyone's concept of reality one way or another.
There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened (Adams, epigraph).
How can you argue with the mind-boggling, brain-twisting, face-screwing consequence of this epigraph. Adams's sure knows how to set the bar high. What's amazing about this book especially is that it is somehow even more comedic than the first book, yet it makes you consider and regard and contemplate and bash your head infrequently into a dry wall quite a bit more . . . just so that the secrets of the universe start appearing in your starburst vision.

I suppose it also sets out to teach something the first book did not. Whereas in the first novel, we are shown a reality so very unlike our own and asked simply to see that both worlds are rather similar indeed, this novel presents an imaginative and surprisingly succinct description of social and economic problems along with the questioning of reality (and so much more). All we are asked of is to live our lives in this mad mad world which is just about mad as the one Adams's provides for us, because "life is wasted on the living," and none of us are dead. Hitchiker's is all about understanding that our world is so much more, and by association, we are so much more (even if insignificant on the cosmic scale).

- Marlon

What's your favorite place to eat?
Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Review: Counting by 7s - Holly Goldberg Sloan

Counting by 7s
Holly Goldberg Sloan
Series: N/A
Genre: Children's
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Absolutely Endearing
On Goodreads

GAH. AHHHHHHH. Don't read this. You will fall in love with it and the terrible ending will just eat at you and you will go crazy. Save yourself now. (You're welcome for me having warned you, no one had that courtesy for me).

This book is honestly fabulous besides the ending though, so I'll tell you all about the other parts of the story that made it so endearing.

Counting by Sevens is a charming story about a little girl named Willow, who is twelve. She has not only lost her birth parents, whom she never knew, but also her adoptive parents, who were killed in an accident. She has a hard time connecting with others, but is very intelligent. She enjoys counting by sevens, learning about nature, and understanding diseases. She is honestly why I loved this book so very much - she is sweet and charming and doesn't put up with any bs. She is autistic, and understands that she is different. She has no sense of how to understand people, but it's clear that she's working on it after the death of her parents. She is, to be concise, just plain old awesome. If anything, I'd reread the book again just for Willow if it weren't for the terrible ending.

After Willow is accused of cheating on a test, she is sent to her school's counselor, Dell. He (a problem all by himself) is pretty useless in helping her, but she does end up in a better place because of him - she meets her two friends, Mai and Quang-ha, who convince their mother to take her in after her adoptive parents die. Their mother, Pattie, is a struggling mother who takes in Willow out of the kindness of her own heart.

Through all of this, there is Willow's conflict with Dell. Dell is inconsiderate and a really terrible guidance counselor. Seriously, he's worse than the ones at my school and that really says something - the DMV has better people skills than this guy. He tries to take advantage of Willow's extraordinary intelligence and although he seems "reformed" by the end of the novel, no one ever says anything about how useless he was to other children that were sent to him.

One of the main conflicts in the novel is poverty, and how it is necessary for Willow, Pattie, and others to over come it. However, the book has a very skewed way of showing this and money is just such a problematic thing that Sloan just throws it around any which way. (I'd say more about this but it really would spoil it for those who are looking to read it).

This book says a lot about good people, which makes me sad because I didn't get to give it the 5/5 I so wanted to when reading it. Ugh, eff you terrible endings, you make me sad :'(

- Amrutha

Do you have any quirks, like counting by sevens?
Let us know in the comments!