Monday, January 27, 2014

Review: The Light Tamer - Devyn Dawson

The Light Tamer
Devyn Dawson
Series: The Light Tamer, #1
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Ambivalent.
On Goodreads

Well, it was alright. I picked this up as a free e-book, and well, I got what I paid for. It was nothing special. What I can tell you about the book is that it certainly lives up to it's genres . . . it did well as a paranormal romance novel. It had all the key elements that are targeted these days: young adult girl who is a bit unlike other girls, falling for an incredibly attractive guy with insta-love sprayed all over their faces, a couple of comedic relief bits, and a high-strung plot. It even has an atrsy-looking cover with a pretty girl who I suppose represents the main character, and an abstract, matching title emblazoned below her neck.

As much as I'd like to bank on the total originality here, the book does have good elements. Like I said, it does it's job as a Paranormal Romance novel well. It gets you hooked with a relateable narrator, the writing's forthright and flowery when it needs to be, and all of the usual crap. I did, at least, like the fact that the paranormal aspect wasn't just vampires or angels or what has become the staple of the genre, but something new that I hadn't thought of. I just wish Dawson had taken a bit more time to clearly explain the mythology instead of having Jessie gawk at it and say 'Oh my God' every five seconds.

I liked the characters for the most part. Jessie's internal dialogues are spot on and her foul language in the face of any situation gets me through the weaker chapters.
'Sick and tired, sick and tired, sick and tired . . . I'm sick of the griping, and I'm tired of being the reasonable one. I wish both of them would grow up and quit pretending to outsiders everything's okay. Everything's not okay. Everything sucks. It sucks that my dad took the credit card and bought a flight to Greece. . . It sucks I think everything sucks.'
The supporting cast is the usual brand of funny and not very important at all but for main character venting and development, and lots of snarky one-liners.

But back to Jessie. Though I like some parts of her, I honestly can't stand the fact that she doesn't take anything in strides or ever really reacts impassively to any situation. 'Okay' is usually what she says after massive reveals are loaded onto her and her world should be coming down. And her development is reflective of this. For example, when she figures out she's a Light Tamer . . . magically she is just able to practice Light Tamer magic or whatever the hell is going on. Why? What? What? Apparently she used to do some magic when she was a kid? Why is this relevant?

She hardly questions anything, and she simply falls into the Light Tamer world without rough patches or hard-earned development. I'd like to see Jessie bitch about how difficult it is getting used to the new world is, or at least explain why everything is normal to her. Am I supposed to assume that this teenager, which the author seems to have taken great strides in making 'normal' is, in fact, totally passive to supernatural happenstance?

And the instalove. It says a lot about a person when that person falls instantly for another. But it's even worse when that person is telling you things about your life, and you just accept those things, trust that person, and randomly have the ability to do those things when all you have for trust are the tingles you feel when he touches you. I'm glad our strong female readers love to know that all they need to succeed is a pretty boy who seems smart and has no other characteristics.

Well, I think I've said enough.

What would you like to see happen in the Paranormal Romance genre?
Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Review: Gone - Michael Grant

Michael Grant
Series: Gone, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Wonderful Concept, Satisfying Execution
On Goodreads

I read this book about a year or two ago, and I think the concept is great. Gone takes place in a world where adults have mysteriously disappeared. Zap. Poof. They just up and vanished. It's like Lord of the Flies without the deserted island. There are just a bunch of fourteen (and younger) year olds running the show. If that's not strange enough, some of them are starting to develop these strange powers and abilities. They have to not only figure out what is going on and where people go when they turn fourteen, but also how to cope in this world and provide themselves with food and other necessities. 

There are a lot of elements of this book that I really like. For one, I think it did a good job of portraying how things would fall apart if there were no adults. The kids couldn't just go on living like normal, they had no one running places like electric companies and food stores, and of course in the panic the concept of working for money was nonexistent so everyone just took what they needed. Grant did a great job of protraying how a normal suburban area could transform into total chaos. In the later books, more and more challenges are thrown at the kids and they have to work towards finding solutions and they do pretty good jobs considering just a little while ago half of them and never made a bed in their lives. 

I also enjoyed the way the people broke up into groups. One girl took it upon herself to inhabit an old daycare center and take care of all the little children. There were also groups that broke out into fights, and there was a lot of tension between people. One of the best parts was the way the kids with mutated powers sort of split from the "normal" kids. The divide showed a very interesting aspect of human nature. 

The characters in this book were well written but not always the most memorable. Like I said, I haven't read this book in a while and I can't really recall all the names. However, I do remember aspects of the characters like one boy who was more clever and quick thinking than his thickheaded enemy. The characters had general essences although they could have been more refines but I think for the audience the book was intended for, the effect was achieved with the characters and being more vague with their traits worked. 

The writing style of the book was very straightforward and simple, but definitely compelling. Overall, the book could have used a few tweaks in character development and connecting the storylines but it was an enjoyable read that I would recommend. 

- Noor

What would you do if all the adults in the world disappeared?
Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Cover Cosmetics: City of Heavenly Fire - Cassandra Clare

As you may have noticed from my Waiting on Wednesday post, I was extremely excited to FINALLY get to see the cover of City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare. In honor of the cover reveal and less than 122 days to the release (I'M SO EXCITED I JUST CAN'T EVEN), I've actually created two looks inspired by the cover for this Cover Cosmetics!

The cover:

The makeup:

The top look is inspired by Clary. I used the light colors because of the way she appears in a white dress and the bright red for her hair. I also incorporated some of the (heavenly) fire at the bottom of the cover in the glitter on the outer lid.

The second look, by contrast, is Sebastian/Jonathan. While Clary almost appears pale as white, Sebastian is shadowed in purples and grays, with almost his whole face covered in shadow. I also added batwing eyeliner to mimic his wings (which I am SO interested to find out about...). I liked doing these two looks because I felt that it really symbolized the battle between good and evil that will be presented in City of Heavenly Fire. I can't wait for the release!

- Kiersten

Which look is your favorite?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: City of Heavenly Fire - Cassandra Clare

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 City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare.

City of Heavenly Fire
Cassandra Clare
Series:  The Mortal Instruments, #6
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Waited on by: Kiersten
On Goodreads


I am coming.

Darkness returns to the Shadowhunter world. As their society falls apart around them, Clary, Jace, Simon and their friends must band together to fight the greatest evil the Nephilim have ever faced: Clary’s own brother. Nothing in the world can defeat him — must they journey to another world to find the chance? Lives will be lost, love sacrificed, and the whole world changed in the sixth and last installment of the Mortal Instruments series!

*Queue incessant fangirling and sobbing*. To say I'm waiting on City of Heavenly Fire is kind of an understatement... I'm actually kind of dying inside as I count down the days to May 27th (it's 124, by the way). The Mortal Instruments is one I love a lot, as my fellow bloggers at We Live and Breathe Books will agree, and I'm anxious to get my hands on CoHF and find out what happens! I'm so excited finally have the cover... IT'S SO PRETTY. I CAN'T. I was going to do a Cover Cosmetics look for it for this post, but school work happened. But don't fret! I'll be posting a look for the cover very soon!

Anyway, I really cannot wait for this release. The Mortal Instruments was my first fandom and it's something I really love. In fact, I'd even venture to say I wouldn't be as close with my WLABB bloggers if we all didn't love this series so much. Also, after many disappointing series conclusions I've read, I'm looking forward to reading one that will surely have sad moments but will be a perfect conclusion to the series!

- Kiersten

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

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Review: The Traveller - Garrett Addison

14290364The Traveller
Garrett Addison
Series: N/A
Genre: Fiction, Adult
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Quite lovely
On Goodreads

Whoa. I'm so glad I stuck with this book. The first like 80-100 pages were so dry that I wasn't sure if I should go on, but Addison really turned the book around after that first dry stretch.

So when first reading the book, the main character, who is never named, seemed really regular. He was livin' an average life, travelling everywhere at the fancy of his boss (his boss is really effing annoying by the way), doing anything at the "anti-Christ's" every whim.

So as our man the Traveller gets called on another trip, his wife (on the first page, mind you) mystically proclaims that this trip will be different from all the rest. As you can imagine, my eyes were rolling before she even finished the sentence. In the beginning, I expected nothing more than a man's bitch-fest about his boss. Then, miraculously, the Traveller becomes a 3-D character. Gone is the shy, meager, annoyed guy who complained about his boss and tiredly went about his life, replaced by a man who was magically enthusiastic and a super maniac with his work.

So honestly the plot of the book was just alright, nothing there was overly special (although it gets a bit sinister and unbelievable at times, which is deeply contrasted with the mundane nature of the Traveller's life to begin with). But the reason I loved this book so much is the way it touched upon really sensitive and intimate topics in the Traveller's life without ever even telling us his name. It reminds me that life is mundane, and that stuff like crappy bosses and boring jobs happen in real life. Addison manages to bring about sensitive issues such as the struggle for power and the balance of work life and home life. The book renders intimate parts of the Traveller's life not so intimate, making this book seem so much more like real life than just fiction at times. The beauty of this book is really how well it captures the modern day, and I'd definitely recommend it.

The themes of revenge and power and just getting out of a boring rut are all hit upon so well by Addison - this is a fast read and one that you'll want to finish in one sitting. Thank you so much to the author for gifting me a copy of this ebook in exchange for a fair and honest review :)

- Amrutha

How do you battle the perils of mundane life?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Review: Unweaving the Rainbow - Richard Dawkins

31487Unweaving the Rainbow
Richard Dawkins
Series: N/A
Genre: Science, Nonfiction, Philosophy
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Bloody good.
On Goodreads

Bit out of the usual books we review, but it's beautifully written, succinct, and deals with a powerful idea: the idea that, somehow, scientific understanding diminishes the aspect of wonder and awe that one has for the universe. In fact, Dawkins strives to posit and prove quite the opposite: that understanding increases awe and beauty and pseudoscientific nonsense diminishes them. And he does it brilliantly.

I'll take the shortcomings first. The first half or so of the book suffers from Dawkins's rhetoric, which he admittedly loses himself in. Thankfully the words and ideas are quite intriguing so I definitely stood the lengthy discourse on the skewed and misrepresenting views of those who try to make science 'fun', such as 'whacky' conventions where the word science itself is not used because it leaves a bad taste. The first part of the book seems to be Dawkins endeavoring to firmly set this book apart from the 'cold, bleak' views that were presented in his previous ones, full of their 'barren desolation . . . their sense that life is 'empty and purposeless''. The book is, of course, a personal response as well, to those who read The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion and see a 'blind' and natural universe too devoid for them, and meaningless. To them I say, read The Ancestor's Tale. And this book. Good shit.

Immensely pleasing, however, is his skill with poetic prose and forthrightness. He begins this book with the statement, 'We are going to die and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born.' Well, call me hooked, Richard. This is a kind of direct prose, rather than an abstract and unintelligible thing one may expect from a scientist. Which is one of the reasons I love this book. It actively diffuses and derides its oppositions. The conventions set against Dawkins are dealt with with deft hands. Even the most moderate, he addresses, nodding to Peter Atkins in his premise: 'Gone is the purpose; all that's left is direction. This is the bleakness we have to accept as we peer deeply and dispassionately into the heart of the universe.' Scientists face this unyielding emptiness as well, and the latter half of this book seems to help them, after it begins to deal less with the harshly opposed.

Equally engaging is the development of the book, as it works from his premise to the major vantage points whereupon we can stand to understand the reaches of his positions. Yeah, I know that sounded terribly boring but it's a pretty fluid way to describe how science adds beauty as it leaves Dawkins time to linger on his 'genetic book of the dead' at the end, because he has already dealt with society and whatnot in the 'barcode' chapters.

One of my favorite parts was the bit on Information Theory, the rather vague and still young field of understanding the world. 'We are digital archives of the African Pliocene, even of Devonian seas; walking repositories of wisdom out of the old days. You could spend a lifetime reading in this ancient library and die unstated by the wonder of it.' Can we just. Can we just take a moment to appreciate the beauty herein.

This book is good. Read it. It's short, it muses to the world and back and it will spin your mind and make you re-think what you know about evolution, what you know about science and society and poetry and awe and reason.

- Marlon

Science and beauty, are they separate for you?
Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Stuffed Animal Saturday [9]

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!

This is The Eviscerator. She will eat your liver, and write a distasteful review on it to Gordon Ramsay. This week we take Unweaving the Rainbow by Richard Dawkins. It deals with the following:

Did Newton "unweave the rainbow" by reducing it to its prismatic colors, as Keats contended? Did he, in other words, diminish beauty? Far from it, says acclaimed scientist Richard Dawkins; Newton's unweaving is the key to much of modern astronomy and to the breathtaking poetry of modern cosmology. Mysteries don't lose their poetry because they are solved: the solution often is more beautiful than the puzzle, uncovering deeper mysteries. With the wit, insight, and spellbinding prose that have made him a best-selling author, Dawkins takes up the most important and compelling topics in modern science, from astronomy and genetics to language and virtual reality, combining them in a landmark statement of the human appetite for wonder.

So Far: A beautiful, beautifully written book refuting the claim that a scientific understanding makes life dull.

Dawkins pursues the claim with his never-dull narrative skills, and though we're around the halfway mark, I've long been convinced and now I'm just in it for the words. Like even the titles of the chapters get me going, like Barcodes in the Stars. Come on, Dawkins, you know the Eviscerator wimpers at that kind of stuff.

The kind of scientific, historic, poetic . . . everything is packed into this book from Native Americans to Keates. Even so, it is a rather short book, so I'll have a review by monday.

A Sneak Peek: 
“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?”

- Marlon

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

Friday, January 17, 2014

Review: Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman
Series: N/A
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: This book is my first drink of water after a year of living in a desert
On Goodreads
Sometimes I think about the fact that Neil Gaiman exists and it just gets hard to breathe. I think my body is subconsciously taking in less oxygen because it knows more of it should be saved for Neil Gaiman. Can you tell he's my favorite author?

Anyway, adoration of the author himself aside, Neverwhere is a phenomenal novel that hit me in all the right places.

It features a very interesting assortment of characters. We have Richard Mayhew, who seemed very boring and plain in the beginning, but who discovers a whole new world (cue Alan Menken soundtrack) right below the London he calls home. His journey changes him of course, and I grew to like the character more as the book went on. We also have Door, who seemed to grow more mysterious page by page, until we finally got unraveled pieces of her past. Other than those two, there's a whole assortment of characters, some helpful and kind, and some out for blood. Gaiman did an excellent job of introducing characters and writing them as completely different while still keeping the same writing style. Sometimes authors get too wrapped up in their own style and all the characters sound the same and other times they're all so different there's no cohesion. This is not the case her, and Neil Gaiman hits the nail right on the head, as usual. One of my favorite passages was Gaiman's description of two of the characters on the hunt for Door:

"There are four simple ways for the observant to tell Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar apart: first, Mr. Vandemar is two and a half heads taller than Mr. Croup; second, Mr. Croup has eyes of a faded china blue, while Mr. Vandemar's eyes are brown; third, while Mr. Vandemar fashioned the rings he wears on his right hand out of the skulls of four ravens, Mr. Croup has no obvious jewelery; fourth, Mr. Croup likes words, while Mr. Vandemar is always hungry. Also, they look nothing at all alike."

Not only was that an effective descriptive technique, it also showcases the writing style of the book, which was another thing I absolutely loved. Neil Gaiman always writes with such fluidity, each words seamlessly melts into the next and I found each sentence drawing me own closer to the next until I'd been reading for hours without realizing. Reading his writing is one of those things you do with some pastries and green tea, soaking in the paper and wondering exactly how he manages to write so fluidly. Everyone should read at list one work by him. Even if the way he writes isn't your cup of tea, everyone needs to experience what can only be described as the book manifestation of chocolate: rich and smooth and over way too quickly.

Okay, I could probably rave about the way Neil Gaiman writes for hours on end, but I want to mention how much I love the plot. That's what made this book so different from another book written with pretty words and distinct characters. The storylines are so well done and I love the way it's told. We get a bit of the past, a bit of the present, and a lot of mystery. Neverwhere creates an entire universe in the underground roads and passages of London. Gaiman has secret passages in the sewers and rats as messengers and people with the ability to erase you from everyone's life. The whole book just kept making me want to read more about the world under London Above, the world where magic and fantasy are possible. I thought the idea behind the book was absolutely brilliant and executed wonderfully.

Basically, Neil Gaiman is, as usual, perfect in the way he writes, and I would personally be overjoyed if anyone picked up this book, or any book he's written, and became a new fan.

- Noor

Who is your favorite author?
Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Discussion: The Fault in Our Stars Movie

The Fault in Our Stars (Movie)
John Green, Directed by: Josh Boone
Release Date: June 6th, 2014
Discussed by: Amrutha
On IMDB On Goodreads

Movie description: Hazel and Gus are two teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them on a journey. Their relationship is all the more miraculous given that Hazel's other constant companion is an oxygen tank, Gus jokes about his prosthetic leg, and they met and fell in love at a cancer support group.

Book description: Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Omg. I'm going to start raving about this plot. THIS WAS LIKE, ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2012. Def. worth reading, I suggest every single one of you read it and if you've already read it, you'll take this advice to read it again. It is filled with beautiful quotes that are actually appealing to a YA reader, or anyone in love. 

When I first heard Shailene Woodley was going to be playing the part of Hazel Grace, I was more than a little concerned. I had only ever seen her in A Secret Life of an American Teenager which, needless to say, frightened me. However, after some research and trailer viewing, my opinion quickly changed. She is truly a marvelous actress and I can't wait to see how she portrays one favorite characters. I'm a little upset that the actors are a little older than the characters, but oh well, I still have high hopes.

As for the movie poster - I love it. I love the way Shailene's hair is cut and I love the way the necklace is placed and I love the font of the title. I love it all. Except - I don't like the tagline.

"One Sick Love Story" 
What, are you kidding me? It's a great play on words and all, but it's seriously disturbing in the sense of its triple meaning. I don't like anyone implying that this love story is sick, despite any and all cancer that might be present.  This love story is one of courage and growing up and fighting for the person you love and about brilliant speeches and two awkward teenagers finding their way. I really hate this. hate. Please don't let this tagline influence the rest of the movie, I'll hate it if the movie turns out to be as cynical as this. Although I love cynicism and I love it from the characters, I'm not such a fan when it gets printed like this on the movie poster.

ALRIGHT FRIENDS I'M DONE THAT'S THE ONLY PROBLEM I HAD WITH IT (well, besides the one where this doesn't come out fast enough). This movie is one I've been dying for since March of 2012 - I will be one of the first in line to see it, because John Green is brilliant, and Hazel and Augustus are beyond perf. 

- Amrutha

How do you feel about this book? Are you excited for the movie? How do you feel about the news that was released so far?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Review: The Sorcery Code - Dima Zales

The Sorcery Code
Dima Zales
Series: The Sorcery Code, #1
Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Rather meh
On Goodreads
There was a naked woman on the floor of Blaise’s study.
With an opening line like that, The Sorcery Code immediately grabs the reader’s attention. Blaise has been trying to create a magical object that will be able to interpret plain language and convert it directly to sorcery code, the language of the Spell Realm. Unknowingly, however, Blaise created Gala, a woman born from the Spell Realm. Neither Blaise nor Gala knows quite what she’s capable of, and throughout the story, we see Gala grow into herself and learn the full extent of her powers.

When it comes to this concept and the way it plays out in The Sorcery Code, is great. While reading, I wondered what was going to happen with Gala – it was clear to me what was happening to her, but she is naïve and hasn’t been “alive” for long so she could not figure it out right away. Gala was, by far, the most interesting character in this story. For her it was almost a coming of age tale as she realized what she was capable of, how she could use her abilities in good ways, and that there are consequences to her actions.

Being a sorcerer in The Sorcery Code is much like being a scientist in our world. Sorcerers don’t possess magical powers – sorcerers are those most skilled in mathematics and science. A sorcerer cannot simply just say a spell or wave their wand. In order to do magic, a sorcerer must do calculations and put in specific variables and coordinates depending on what he wants to accomplish.
As long as you wrote out the logic of the spell properly, then it was a simple dynamic of ‘if variable A is set to such and such value, action B happens.’
The way magic works in The Sorcery Code is really inventive and interesting to learn throughout the book. Although it was a lot of information and a bit confusing at first, it makes sense as the story progresses.

While Gala is adventurous and curious about the Physical Realm, the world she now lives in, Blaise is much more interested in the Spell Realm. Blaise is one of the best sorcerers of his day because of how intelligent he is. He is constantly researching and trying to find ways to make sorcery easier. Blaise is pretty much a nerd but in a way that puts you in awe over his passion and innovation. Although Blaise was much less interesting than Gala, I found that he was still rather interesting, mostly because his point of view was where we learned the most about sorcery and the world of The Sorcery Code.

Along with Gala and Blaise’s point of views, there’s also POVs for Augusta and Barson. I found these two characters much harder to connect with. While I appreciate seeing all their views and experiencing what’s happening in each of their lives, I think juggling four different perspectives made it harder to connect with the characters because there wasn’t a lot of time to really appreciate them. Barson was sort of interesting because he had a secret that I wanted to figure out, but I found Augusta a little hard to handle. While other characters had bigger plans for their actions, most of her actions were concerned with what she wanted above all else. Besides that, I found that Augusta just wasn’t all that interesting. I rarely cared what she was doing unless her actions were going to affect Gala.

While the concept (the reason I signed up to review for the book tour) and the beginning of this story grabbed my attention, I think the overall execution of the plot could have been better. When I read that first scene (which you can read on my The Sorcery Code Book Tour post here) I thought the book would be really fast paced. Unfortunately, there are a lot of fairly slow parts because there’s so much exposition for each character. There just wasn’t enough time to fully develop the characters and follow their stories with four different character POVs – especially because the characters were almost always completely separate from one another.

Overall, The Sorcery Code was by no means a bad book, I just felt very “meh” about it after reading. I didn’t quite fall in love with any of the characters and I felt no urgency to keep reading largely due to that. I think that as the beginning of a series (since the non-ending of this book NEEDS a sequel) this story has a lot of potential to be great, especially if Dima Zales continues to weave such a detailed and inventive world. Although The Sorcery Code is by no means my favorite book, I still enjoyed it and I think I’ll enjoy it even more after reading more in the series.

- Kiersten

How do you feel about multiple POVs?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Review: Champion - Marie Lu

Marie Lu
Series: Legend, #3
Genre: Fantasy, Dystopian, Young Adult
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Breathtaking
On Goodreads


This was the most incredible ending to such a book I did not expect all of that to be happening I honestly just expected another war like novel with beautiful words and a amazing writing but a cop out ending like Requiem. But no, that did not happen.

I mean, can we just talk about the characters for a second. Can we just? June bloody Iparis absolutely does it for me. She's not real but she deserves a BAFTA.

This is June:

And Day, and Pascao (DEAR GODS I LOVE PASCAO) and Tess and everyone.

June finished her character development and grew into the strong, amazing young woman we knew she would. She handles everything so, so well and deals with her emotions far better than she did in Legend and Prodigy. She finally accepts her love for Day and does her best for everyone around. I confess my only major disappointment at the end was that Marie Lu used June's suffering and the situation around her to make June have weak moments, and her final resolutions are not true to the character at all and do not make her stronger. 'Perhaps there is such a thing as fate' is neither June, nor quite relevant to what June was thinking, nor does it make it mature and wise and healthy for her to submit to the whims of the world like that.

But anyway, only one gripe. Day was mag-fracking-nificent because he loses everything and he fights. He fights because it is the only thing he can do. He loves so much he is destroyed, his family is ripped to shreds and he fights and he fights and he fights and the willpower in this one character is so intimidatingly inspiring I don't understand how to word it correctly. Everything he does to protect Eden, how he basically changes the ENTIRE WORLD with his love, including Anden from turning into a monster and June from losing herself. When he began forgetting things? That's when I knew. Spoiler alert: That's when I knew who the real enemy was and that the Chancellor was nothing but a plot device and nothing was ever going to be okay again.

Ugh and the PLOT! The plot had around five billion intricate lengths all woven into a fabulous, fabulous cloth which I pour my tears into. Everything came together perfectly.
The ending was so perfect. It leaves you with the succulent taste of 'I really don't know what's going to happen' but everything that isn't said is implied and the struggle between these two boarders and the war between them is a story only for your minds.

- Marlon

Does love conquer everything?
Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Book Tour: The Sorcery Code - Dima Zales

The Sorcery Code
Dima Zales
Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Publication Date: December 2013
On Goodreads

About the book:

From the internationally bestselling authors who brought you the Krinar Chronicles comes a captivating tale of intrigue, love, and danger in a world where sorcery is entwined with science...

Once a respected member of the Sorcerer Council and now an outcast, Blaise has spent the last year of his life working on a special magical object. The goal is to allow anyone to do magic, not just the sorcerer elite. The outcome of his quest is unlike anything he could’ve ever imagined – because, instead of an object, he creates Her.

She is Gala, and she is anything but inanimate. Born in the Spell Realm, she is beautiful and highly intelligent – and nobody knows what she’s capable of. She will do anything to experience the world... even leave the man she is beginning to fall for.

Augusta, a powerful sorceress and Blaise’s former fiancée, sees Blaise’s deed as the ultimate hubris and Gala as an abomination that must be destroyed. In her quest to save the human race, Augusta will forge new alliances, becoming tangled in a web of intrigue that stretches further than any of them suspect. She may even have to turn to her new lover Barson, a ruthless warrior who might have an agenda of his own...


There was a naked woman on the floor of Blaise’s study.
     A beautiful naked woman.
     Stunned, Blaise stared at the gorgeous creature who just appeared out of thin air. She was looking around with a bewildered expression on her face, apparently as shocked to be there as he was to be seeing her. Her wavy blond hair streamed down her back, partially covering a body that appeared to be perfection itself. Blaise tried not to think about that body and to focus on the situation instead.
     A woman. A She, not an It. Blaise could hardly believe it. Could it be? Could this girl be the object?
     She was sitting with her legs folded underneath her, propping herself up with one slim arm. There was something awkward about that pose, as though she didn’t know what to do with her own limbs. In general, despite the curves that marked her a fully grown woman, there was a child-like innocence in the way she sat there, completely unselfconscious and totally unaware of her own appeal.
     Clearing his throat, Blaise tried to think of what to say. In his wildest dreams, he couldn’t have imagined this kind of outcome to the project that had consumed his entire life for the past several months.
     Hearing the sound, she turned her head to look at him, and Blaise found himself staring into a pair of unusually clear blue eyes.
     She blinked, then cocked her head to the side, studying him with visible curiosity. Blaise wondered what she was seeing. He hadn’t seen the light of day in weeks, and he wouldn’t be surprised if he looked like a mad sorcerer at this point. There was probably a week’s worth of stubble covering his face, and he knew his dark hair was unbrushed and sticking out in every direction. If he’d known he would be facing a beautiful woman today, he would’ve done a grooming spell in the morning.
      “Who am I?” she asked, startling Blaise. Her voice was soft and feminine, as alluring as the rest of her. “What is this place?”
      “You don’t know?” Blaise was glad he finally managed to string together a semi-coherent sentence. “You don’t know who you are or where you are?”
     She shook her head. “No.”
     Blaise swallowed. “I see.”
      “What am I?” she asked again, staring at him with those incredible eyes.
      “Well,” Blaise said slowly, “if you’re not some cruel prankster or a figment of my imagination, then it’s somewhat difficult to explain . . .”
     She was watching his mouth as he spoke, and when he stopped, she looked up again, meeting his gaze. “It’s strange,” she said, “hearing words this way. These are the first real words I’ve heard.”
     Blaise felt a chill go down his spine. Getting up from his chair, he began to pace, trying to keep his eyes off her nude body. He had been expecting something to appear. A magical object, a thing. He just hadn’t known what form that thing would take. A mirror, perhaps, or a lamp. Maybe even something as unusual as the Life Capture Sphere that sat on his desk like a large round diamond.
     But a person? A female person at that?
     To be fair, he had been trying to make the object intelligent, to ensure it would have the ability to comprehend human language and convert it into the code. Maybe he shouldn’t be so surprised that the intelligence he invoked took on a human shape.      A beautiful, feminine, sensual shape.
     Focus, Blaise, focus.
      “Why are you walking like that?” She slowly got to her feet, her movements uncertain and strangely clumsy. “Should I be walking too? Is that how people talk to each other?”
     Blaise stopped in front of her, doing his best to keep his eyes above her neck. “I’m sorry. I’m not accustomed to naked women in my study.”
     She ran her hands down her body, as though trying to feel it for the first time. Whatever her intent, Blaise found the gesture extremely erotic.
      “Is something wrong with the way I look?” she asked. It was such a typical feminine concern that Blaise had to stifle a smile.
      “Quite the opposite,” he assured her. “You look unimaginably good.” So good, in fact, that he was having trouble concentrating on anything but her delicate curves. She was of medium height, and so perfectly proportioned that she could’ve been used as a sculptor’s template.
      “Why do I look this way?” A small frown creased her smooth forehead. “What am I?” That last part seemed to be puzzling her the most.
     Blaise took a deep breath, trying to calm his racing pulse. “I think I can try to venture a guess, but before I do, I want to give you some clothing. Please wait here—I’ll be right back.”
     And without waiting for her answer, he hurried out of the room.

Purchase links:

About the author:

Dima Zales is a full-time science fiction and fantasy author residing in Palm Coast, Florida. Prior to becoming a writer, he worked in the software development industry in New York as both a programmer and an executive. From high-frequency trading software for big banks to mobile apps for popular magazines, Dima has done it all. In 2013, he left the software industry in order to concentrate on his writing career.

Dima holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science from NYU and a dual undergraduate degree in Computer Science / Psychology from Brooklyn College. He also has a number of hobbies and interests, the most unusual of which might be professional-level mentalism. He simulates mind-reading on stage and close-up, and has done shows for corporations, wealthy individuals, and friends. To read more, click here!

Author links:

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Giveaway: Roomies - Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando

Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando
Series: N/A
On Goodreads

It's time to meet your new roomie.

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl's summer -- and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they've never met.

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr and acclaimed author Tara Altebrando join forces for a novel about growing up, leaving home, and getting that one fateful e-mail that assigns your college roommate.

Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando's confirmed tour dates:
January 12, 2014 - New York, NY: McNally Jackson
January 15, 2014 - Salt Lake City, UT: The King's English
January 16, 2014 - Provo, UT: Provo Library
February 4, 2014 - San Francisco, CA: Books Inc, Opera Plaza
February 5, 2014 - Petaluma, CA: Copperfield's Books

My "roomie" story:

So this past August, just over four months ago, I moved into my dorm for my first semester of college, which meant I would have my very own roommate. I was definitely nervous about having to live with another person and I had all sorts of thoughts like "What if she tries to kill me in my sleep?" and "What if she hates me because of how strange and abnormal I am?" and "What if we hate each other?" among many others. The only conversation I'd had with her since finding out who she was was about who would be bringing what appliances.

As it turns out, my roommate is not a psychopathic serial killer who would slit my throat if I so much as left a corner of the room undusted. But just because she's not a murderer, doesn't mean I don't have any fun stories about sharing a living space.

I think the incident that first comes to mind when I think about a roommate story is a certain incident that started off with me doing homework. The door to my room was open, and I was minding my own business, typing away at my essay, when my roommate walked in with some guy I'd never seen before. I waved hello and went back to my work. A little while later, I saw a text on my phone at the same time I started noticing these clicking noises. I checked my phone first and saw a text from my friend who lives in the room across from me asking "Noor where are you?" Confused, I looked up and was greeted by the sight of my roommate and her unidentified male creature making out in the middle of the room. When I looked up, she saw me, and I quickly looked down, but I couldn't get up right that second or it'd be awkward. In the few seconds between looking up and looking back down, I got another text. It was a picture of me my friend had taken by angling the camera to face the mirror, where you could see my reflection. I looked uncomfortable. They saved me by screaming out my name and giving me an excuse to leave. I got into the hallway and burst out laughing. They told me they walked past the room and the door was wide open and they were just standing there, making out, and they wanted to know if I was in there. I told them I didn't realize that it was happening and I bolted as soon as I could. Overall, it was a weird experience and the next day she said "Sorry about all that awkwardness" so I guess she sensed the weirdness. There haven't been any more incidents exactly like that anymore. Her boyfriend is in the room a lot, but they save the weird stuff for when I'm not in the room or when everyone is in bed, because I can't see them from part of my bed. Sometimes, he's in there when she isn't and he just hangs out in there and I will occasionally leave an empty room to go shower and comeback to him sitting in there alone, which was awkwardly unexpected the first time, but he said "Do you want me to step out so you can change?" and so he did and that works out.

I have another story about this weird passive aggressive moment the first week of classes. She has tons of post-its stuck to her desk, reminding her of various things. Once I was being the klutz I am and I slipped and I put my hand on her desk to stop myself from falling and it bent two of the notes. I came back to the room later to find a note on my desk saying "You bent/moved my post it notes. I would appreciate it if you would not situate your stuff on my desk." When she came back to the room, she said she wasn't trying to be rude, and I told her that I had just slipped, and that was resolved.

Other than a few weird incidents, my roommate and I work well as two people living together. While we aren't quite friends, but acquaintances, and don't talk too often, we are good roommates and our dynamic works. She's a pretty nice person, I remember once when I was sick she got me this little get well soon card and cough drops. We do little things and she's generally a good person to live with, and while we won't go fighting tooth and nail to request each other for next year, it's been a good first semester and hopefully the next one will be even better!

- Noor


Enter to win a copy of Roomies! This giveaway is US only and the winner will be announced on January 18th. If the winner does not respond to the email by January 20th, a new winner will be selected. The prize will be sent by the publisher and we are not responsible for lost packages.This should be implied, but please do not cheat. Cheating will result in disqualification.  Good luck!

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Do you have a roommate story?
Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Book Tour Review + Giveaway: Branded - Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki

Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki
Series: Sinners, #1
Genre: Dystopian, Young/New Adult, Romance, Action
Release Date: June 28, 2013
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
On Goodreads

About the book:

Fifty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best. Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home.

Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain.

Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win.

The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me.
I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter.
My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.


When I found Branded, I immediately wanted to read it after seeing the concept – I was really intrigued by a society that literally brands people for their sins. Branded definitely did not disappoint me.

The society of Branded is crazy. I could never have imagined something like Lexi’s society until I read this. In Branded, the Commander calls the shots. He can make whatever rules he wants for whatever reason he wants and doesn’t have to explain. The Commander thought the seven deadly sins were the reason for all the bad things in the world, so anyone accused of a sin was branded and sent off to the Hole, the place where all sinners are forced to live. Just for being accused. There’s no trial – any one accused of sinning is assumed guilty and branded. That’s precisely how Lexi ends up there.

Branded follows Lexi when she is accused of lust and thrown into the Hole. When Lexi goes into the Hole, she has pretty much given up on life. After her whole family either abandons or betrays her, Lexi is left very meek and feeling like no one cares about her. I absolutely loved watching Lexi evolve throughout the story. While she starts out accepting her fate even though she was wrongly accused, Lexi grows to be a confident girl with the will to survive and get out of the Hole.

While Lexi’s actions and developments felt so real, Cole, the guard assigned to watch and protect her, was kind of all over and never fully made sense to me. From the beginning of the story, Cole is nice to Lexi for what seems like no reason. Instalove? It’s the only possibility I can think of for him caring for her so much almost immediately after they met. Even though this didn’t make sense to me, I really loved Cole. The way he cared for Lexi through everything was so sweet. This was definitely a romance that made my fingers all tingly and filled me with joy, although there were a few corny lines. I was especially happy for Lexi finally finding someone who truly cared for her and made her happy when her life had been so dismal.

The romance wasn’t the only aspect of Branded that evoked emotion in me. Throughout the entire story the reader gets tastes of the trauma that Lexi went through before being thrown into the Hole. My heart absolutely broke when I found out exactly what that trauma was (and it was by no means predictable!). Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki did a phenomenal job expressing Lexi’s emotion. When Lexi was scared, I was scared; when she was desperate, I could feel her desperation deep down to my core. Branded threw me through so many emotions that I didn’t expect. It made me laugh, it made me smile, it made me cry – it was just wonderful.

One thing that was sort of disturbing but completely necessary to the world building was the violence in the Hole. Not only are sinners branded and sent to live in the Hole, they’re also treated as though they aren’t human beings. Like the Commander does whatever he wants in the society, the guards do whatever they want in the Hole. Without protection by a guard, a pretty, young girl like Lexi, branded for lust, would be attacked by anyone, including the guards. The Hole is a place of chaos with no rules. The people living in the Hole have been reduced to nothing and they act that way. There was so much violence and death in Branded, but it shows exactly how unhinged and desperate the people who live there are.

The end of Branded wasn’t quite a cliffhanger, but it definitely left me wanting more of Lexi and Cole’s story – I absolutely cannot wait to find out what happens to their world after the events of the book. I saw one of the “twists” at the end coming, but I think it was just me trying to figure out how a twist could work in rather than the twist actually being obvious. Overall, I really loved Branded. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for an emotional journey through such an intriguing dystopia.

- Kiersten

About the authors:

Abi and Missy met in the summer of 1999 at college orientation and have been best friends ever since. After college, they added jobs, husbands and kids to their lives, but they still found time for their friendship. Instead of hanging out on weekends, they went to dinner once a month and reviewed books. What started out as an enjoyable hobby has now become an incredible adventure.

Author Links:


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How would you feel if you were wrongly accused of sinning?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Review: A Disobedient Girl - Ru Freeman

6350150A Disobedient Girl
Ru Freeman
Series: N/A
Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 3.25 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Alright
On Goodreads

This book left an awkward taste in my mouth. I didn't know whether to love it or just put it down and move on. Half of this book is utterly fantastic and then it dips into a state where I become totally apathetic. And I hate the end.

There isn't much to be said about diction, syntax, etc. It's pretty standard, nothing special, nothing terrible. That isn't a criticism, because the novel is far more story-central and focuses on revealing bits without giving too much to the deliverance so I understand that a consistent narrative voice (well, voices) was preferred.

First, Latha and Biso, our protags. Both of our protags represent paths of the oppressed. Both are strong willed: Latha steals from the family she works for because she believes she deserves it, and Biso leaves her husband. Don't worry, these aren't spoilers this happens within the first few pages.

The only problem here is that, while I sympathize with Latha and Biso's situations and where they are coming from, I still did not like either of them much. Latha was reckless, getting pregnant, and she sometimes became more snobby than Thara does (don't talk to me about any secondary characters, they're all hella horrible jerks and perfect representations of the disgusting, patronizing patriarchy and caste-system. I died a little when Thara turned into an elite, stuck up bitch.

I don't truly sympathize with either character, because Latha is immature and rash, and often callous. Meanwhile Biso can be strong but opts to be weak (won't spoil anything). Don't get me wrong, like I said, their situations displayed the socio-economic state of Sri Lanka well, and though vague and subtle, there were wonderful bits of commentary by Ru Freeman. However, there wasn't enough to give the book meat on its bones, and none of these characters really developed from being who they were at the start of the boo, and Latha has a child and goes through, like, twenty years of suffering including being sent to a covenant . . . you think that would make her change her attitude slightly or at least make her want to leave.

I can't say much but that this book was a big disappointment. I really would have liked to see more connections being made and a faster plot revelation. It's good, but there's too much left out.

- Marlon

What are your thoughts on America's social justice?
Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Review: Branded - Keary Taylor

Keary Taylor
Series: Fall of Angels, #1
Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Interesting
On Goodreads

There was a time a few months ago when I was binge-one-clicking free eBooks on Amazon – Branded was one of those. In my dilemma to choose a new book, I was scrolling through the ridiculous amount of eBooks I own and I chose Branded, to be completely honest, because it had a really pretty cover. I mean, the cover is just stunning (I see a Cover Cosmetics in your future, Branded). Anyway, I basically devoured this book on Christmas Eve, and while it was far from perfect, I found Branded to be very enjoyable.

When I started reading the book, I didn’t even remember what it was about – not even a little – but the premise of the story comes into play right away. We find out in the beginning of Branded that Jessica tries to sleep as little as possible because when she does she has terrible nightmares. These nightmares are not your average nightmares though – in these nightmares, Jessica stands trial for the dead in front of a panel of angels. During the trials, the good and bad deeds of the person are made known. If the person has lived a life of good, he is exalted and sent to heaven. If not, he is condemned, branded with a hot iron, and sent to hell. But here’s the crazy part – when the person on trial is branded, so is Jessica. After every nightmare, Jessica wakes up screaming and often in pain from a new branding.

Even though this is the main idea behind the story, I found that there wasn’t really much of it throughout the book. Rather than a paranormal dominated by her nightmares and why she has them, most of the story is dedicated to Jessica coming out of her shell and beginning to trust people. Of course the nightmares have a deeply psychological affect on her, it is certainly not the center of this story until the end. Another somewhat misleading aspect of the blurb for this book is that it sounds like there is a love triangle. Let me tell you, there is no love triangle. Like, not at all. Sure, there are two guys, but there is no competition between them. Not even a little. Nope. So if you hate love triangles, you certainly don’t have to worry about that in this one.

For the romance, however, it was a bit insta-love-y. I am by no means opposed to insta-love but usually I like it in young adult rather than a story like this. Jessica is 20 and her love interest, Alex, is 23. Alex is super charming and perfect and rich and kind and understanding to Jessica. He literally does no wrong throughout the whole book – he has no flaw. The only thing he sort of does is get upset out of jealousy, but not to worry – he goes and apologizes about it right away! He was just too perfect. I enjoyed his charm, but if he had moments of flaw I think he would have been that much more enjoyable. Someone that perfect just isn’t believable.

Jessica, on the other hand, is nowhere near perfect, which is fine. She is broken by her memories of the nightmares and how they have ruined every relationship she’s ever had – family, friends, and basically everyone. Jessica’s past was sad – her mother thought she was crazy and wanted her to be institutionalized, so Jessica had to run away and start a new life on her own at 16-years-old. Is the fact that a 16-year-old can just run away, get a job, find someplace to live, and not have anyone looking for her believable? Not really, but that’s Jessica’s story.

At the start of the book, all she has is the somewhat odd next-door neighbor, Sal, who she takes care of. I felt bad for Jessica and how the nightmares that have plagued her for her entire life have left her alone and afraid to make connections. I mean, yes, you do sound crazy when you tell people you have to face angels in your sleep and then you often get branded and the branding remains on your neck after you wake up. That’s because it is crazy. Thinking back on it, I don’t even understand how Alex just took this information when Jessica told him. He doesn’t even question it. Not at all. Nope. He just perfectly wrapped his arms around her for comfort. If only we all had our own perfect Alex.

Anyway, after meeting Alex Jessica decides she needs to act like a real person and do things. She decides to take a yoga class and befriends her yoga instructor, Emily. It was nice to see Jessica face her problem, realizing that she had been locking herself away from the world and that she needed to get out and interact with people.

Now you’re probably wondering about the other boy I mentioned earlier. No? Well, I’ll tell you a little about him anyway. Where Alex is the most perfect person of perfection that ever was perfect, Cole is even more beautiful and obsessed with Jessica and sort of creepy. When Cole moves in two doors down from Jessica, he immediately turns the charm on to her. Cole wants nothing more than Jessica, as it turns out, and he’ll do anything to have her. Cole has a very little role in the story until the end. I suppose his strong “I want you so bad” vibe was too much for Jessica and she tried to stay away as much as possible. Good for you, Jessica. You go, Jessica.

The thing that has me most conflicted about this story is the ending. While there were times in the book that seemed to drag, having too much unnecessary detail, the ending was almost too quick. Lots of things happen in the end without much chance to fully comprehend what will happen as a result. I FELT SO MANY FEELS. The ending isn’t exactly a cliffhanger, but we have almost no idea what will happen as a result of the ending. I’m not entirely sure if I’m happy with the end of Branded, but I am anxious to start the next book, Forsaken.

Overall, I did enjoy Branded. I think this book could use a bit more editing – there were a lot of typos, grammatical errors, and general wordiness – but it has a lot of potential. Keary Taylor was able to tell a story with such a different concept. I was able to predict some of the twists early on in the book, but I still think she was rather successful in her execution. I look forward to reading more of her work in the near future, starting with Forsaken!

- Kiersten

What would you do if you woke up from a nightmare with a branding on the back of your neck?
Let us know in the comments!