Tuesday, May 27, 2014

City of Heavenly Fire Book Launch! + GIVEAWAY!

After over a week's worths of posts leading up to the release of City of Heavenly Fire, you may or may not have realized at this point that we kinda like Cassandra Clare and the various book-like objects she creates. Only a little though. And by a little, I mean, enough that my insides are burning up more than Jace's right now. Ha, see what I did there? Okay, sorry, I know I'm not funny.

Anyway, the night of May 26th, (and the day of too), We Live and Breathe Books (minus Amrutha) finally left our computers and went to New York City for an event featuring not only the wonderful Cassandra Clare, but also a panel of guests consisting of the oh-so-fabulous Maureen Johnson, Holly Black, Kelly Link Joshua Lewis, and David Levithan (who was filling in for Scott Westerfeld who was, unfortunately, the final death in the book). 

I just want to take a second to appreciate how cute fierce and smoldery we are. 

Okay, are you done appreciating the way our eyes are luring you in to your inevitable doom due to excessive seduction and badassness? 


It's okay. Take your time. 

We'll move on when you're ready. 

Kiersten's lovely mother accompanied us to the city as well, so she was also part of our group and drove us in to New York early. There were only four or five people in front of us waiting in line, and we ended up getting seats right up in the front, close enough to see every little detail on everyone's faces (especially the ones on Maureen's dress). Of course, before we went in, we had to wait outside with everyone else. And some of those "everyone else" people included booktubers who also attended the event and who we absolutely freaked out about meeting! 

Look at this beautiful picture and feast upon the glory of Christine (xtinemay) and Kat (katytastic) and their Amazonian beauty.

We look like mere tree stumps compared to them. Seriously. Like, standing there looking at them I felt like they were beautiful goddesses and I was a literal potato who someone had carved facial features into. 

Anyway, Marlon and I had premium tickets and Kiersten and her mother did not because of how things like classes and college and timing worked out when we were buying them, we had to separate in line for a little while. Marlon and I went inside first and split up so he could go buy vouchers so we could get our books at midnight, and I could go save four seats. We were in the second row, which was perfect and wonderful and we were also towards the center of the row and there weren't any tall people sitting in front of us. 

The second they started opening their mouths, it was perfect. 

They started out with a skit involving reading a retrieval of the records of Magnus Bane's voicemails. Featuring messages from characters including Izzy, Alec, Simon, Clary, Maia, Church, and Chairman Meow, each panelist was absolutely hilarious (or heartbreaking, in the case of Alec/David Levithan) in their delivery and execution of the ways the characters spoke on the phone and rolled their eyes and flailed their arms. The voicemail skit was definitely a great way to begin the event and got everyone super excited. The voicemail records will be included in the bound copy of The Bane Chronicles!

Then we continued on to a part where the other authors read their favorite excerpts from the other books, which was followed by a Q&A session. Some questions were genuine and serious, about her writing processes, which Cassandra answered very articulately. Many of them were very silly, like "In 100 years, are Simon and Tessa gonna be a thing?" We wanted to ask "Approximately what percent of this book is smut?" but our question didn't make it. Someone asked about the fact that Isabelle doesn't have blue eyes, which I personally thought was reading way too into the series and someone else asked about Cassandra's favorite crackpot theories, which was my favorite question of the night. She said she particularly liked the one where Church is actually just Tessa in a shapeshifted form. 

At midnight, the panel ended, and the signing began. The way the exit situation was working, we thought we would be at the very end but because Kiersten's mother is fabulous, she saved us a good place in line. And then, because we had books by the other authors we also wanted signed, we got to go even further ahead.

Here, we see all the beautiful copies in their heavenly glory. 

The authors were all so friendly and hilarious. Seriously, I want to be in that place one day, signing books with a bunch of author friends, being all witty and hilarious. I really just wanted to be best friends with all of them so badly. Just look how wonderful they all look!

Marlon decided that he was going to be special and in addition to getting the authors to sign their books like Kiersten and I did, he also had every author there sign (and deface) his copy of Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. They all made jokes and comments about how he's now dead and they are taking over for him and he has all their signatures obscuring his name on the book. It was a pretty funny situation and they all seemed to enjoy his weird comments and obnoxious outbursts. 

Anyway, I'm still staring at my books and feeling super excited that I have signed copies of books by such awesome people and talented authors. Just looking at them spread out in front of me makes me so happy.

Although, once I start on City of Heavenly Fire, I doubt I'll be happy for long, so I guess I'm off to ruin my own day! 


And now it's time for a GIVEAWAY!

While we were attending the signing, we got a glorious SIGNED copy of the book to give to one of YOU! (Awesome, right?!)

One winner will receive this signed copy of the book for their enjoyment/heartbreak. This giveaway will be US only, BUT you can enter INT if you are willing to pay the shipping through Venmo. All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter below and BAM! you're entered.

The giveaway will end at 11:59 pm on June 17th and the winner has 48 hours from being contacted to respond. Good luck everyone - may the odds be ever in your favor!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 26, 2014

Countdown to City of Heavenly Fire: City of Lost Souls

Hey everyone! As you may have noticed, there is just ONE day until the release of City of Heavenly Fire, the final book in the Mortal Instruments series, wrapping up all the loose ends we leave off with at the end of City of Lost Souls. We've been posting every other day so make sure to check out our other posts including some makeup by Kiersten, fanart picks by Marlon, and outfits by me.

For today's post, I thought I would create a short playlist of songs inspired by the contents of City of Lost Souls. I think the timing is perfect because I know some good music is always good for pumping me up for an event!

Warning: these are NOT spoiler free explanations.
If you haven't read City of Lost Souls yet, you can purchase it on Amazon here!

1. At Anchor - Port Blue 

I thought of this song fitting into one particular scene in the beginning. "That was the thing about New York: you always knew more about your neighbors' business than you wanted to. Magnus's door was cracked slightly open, and the sounds of music playing softly wafted out into the hall." This song always makes me think of someone walking through the city never quite knowing what to expect or who to expect which is certainly true with Magnus and his decor and outfit changes!

2. Carry On Wayward Son - Kansas 

I'll admit that the Supernatural fan within me chose this but with the Simon and the Mark of Cain business how could I not? I think this song shows how much he still has to go through and how much has happened to him since he's gotten involved in Clary's "new" life. Simon is sometimes pushed to the side but he is not a small force!

3. Time Travel - NeverShoutNever!

This one is less literal than the first two but I got some vibes of the Jace/Sebastian possession relationship thing going on there. Some of it came from the way the song outlines a process of going out and seeking something and part of it because he doesn't know who he is and he has lost control, symbolizing the both of them. In a weird way, I think this song captures both of them well. 

4. Radioactive -  Imagine Dragons 

I think this song fits so well into the whole scene where the giant army of dark Shadowhunters fights our beloved heroes and everything seems to be falling apart.

5. Arms - Christina Perri 

Okay, one more Alex and Magnus song but I always think of them and the ending of the book and where their relationship starts to head makes it all the more bitter but you just KNOW they're meant to be so this is their song because they are home to one another. Also Alec has some nice Shadowhunter runed up arms.

If you want to listen to the playlist, I've uploaded it to Spotify here so be sure to check it out!

- Noor

What songs remind you of City of Lost Souls?
Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Review: Love, Lex - Avery Aster

Love, Lex
Avery Aster
Series: The Undergrad Years, #1
Genre: Young Adult, More-like-adult-romance
Rating: -7 (0) out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Literally repulsive
Goodreads | Amazon

I received this book for the exchange of an honest review.

Unfortunately, I was unable to finish this book, because it was honestly just so awful. The writing is sad, the characters drive me nuts, the plot is all over the place.

The book begins with Alexandra Easton, or Lex, who is apparently so chubby that her boyfriend tells her she needs to lose weight before he dare have sex with her. lol. what. Okay, so this girl who is apparently going to Columbia in the fall and has movie star parents has a low enough self esteem to sit there and take this kind of emotional abuse. Alright, I guess. So then, when she's finally getting close to losing the weight necessary to lose her "Lady V" (virginity), she comes home, to find what? Her mom and boyfriend going at it. I guess after this her (whatever was left of her) self respect kicked in, and she decides to dump her boyfriend.

Now comes the real kicker. After she breaks up with her boyfriend, for no real reason, she decides to burn a dress and some pictures in the bathroom OF A NEW YORK CITY PENTHOUSE. Clearly little Miss Columbia isn't as smart as we thought. Anyway, I guess her mom had 02 tanks around her house to help with her youth and beauty or some equivalent bullshit, and boom, her house blows up, and Lex and her friends are arrested.

While she's getting arrested, by the way, she flirts with the cop.

Because after a few weeks of trying, I was unable to finish the book, I figured I'd skip to the last few chapters to find out if the book had a chance of getting any better. Hint: it didn't, it turned into some sick version of mommy porn that no one should ever have to be subjected to reading.

I'll tell you right now, don't read this book if you want your eyesight to work fully afterwards. The poor writing style combined with the way too out there plot and the most annoying characters on the planet manifests itself in this book, Love, Lex. Hopefully I am able to avoid all Avery Aster books in the process.

This book is marked DNF, for did not finish. (Note: This is the first book in over 6 years I have not finished).

I received this book for the exchange of an honest review.

- Amrutha

What are some books you did not finish? Why not?
Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Countdown to City of Heavenly Fire: City of Fallen Angels

As you have heard multiple times in the past week, City of Heavenly Fire is being released in three days. ONLY THREE DAYS! In anticipation of this glorious event, We Live and Breathe Books has been doing a post every other day for each book in The Mortal Instruments series. If you missed the past ones, check out Noor's City of Bones outfits, my City of Ashes Cover Cosmetics, and Marlon's favorite fanart for City of Glass! Today, I'll be doing a Cover Cosmetics for City of Fallen Angels!

The cover:

The makeup:

For this look, my primary inspiration was the general color palette: oranges and yellows. The idea of fallen angels suggested by the title inspired be to do a harsh wing shape to the eyeshadow and eyeliner like the wings of angels.

Thanks for checking out my look and stay tuned for the next Countdown post on Monday!

- Kiersten

Is there a specific color palette you associate with the book?
Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Countdown to City of Heavenly Fire: City of Glass

By no means should it be news that the final Mortal Instruments novel is coming out (FIVE DAYS PEOPLE). In anticipation of City of Heavenly Fire's release next week we at WLABB are doing a post for each book in The Mortal Instruments series. The posts will be done every other day until City of Heavenly Fire launches. If you missed it, check out the outfits Noor picked out for City of Bones, and the beautiful make-up Kiersten thought up for City of Ashes.

For my City of Glass post, I'll be showing you all my favorite fan-art of scenes from the book!

First, this glorious bit. I absolutely love love these two quotes. Jace's character never stops being heartbreaking but when he opens up to Clary, it's quite mesmerizing how much pain he can expound. It is in CoG that Clace really starts to pick up, reaching a climax where Jace has a bit of Herondale self-hatred, and settles into the deep love that the two of them share and ugh it's so precious. Of the first image: I'm quite awed by the color choice. Instead of Jace's leonine gold, there are shades of soft, soft blue in a deep red velvet, which I take to mean his pained heart. It's vulnerable and beautiful. The second image exemplifies the depth of Jace's words with a vivid image of again, something vulnerable and soft, but this time timeless: an old couple holding hands. Come on that's just brilliant.

(Source: tespngames.tumblr.com and photomaniper.tumblr.com respectively.)

Spoiler alert: Max dies. Max dies and it's abhorrent. Up until that point, Sebastian didn't seem much of a threat, just an annoying, vaguely bad-ish guy. Furthermore no one really important (to my heart) had died (sorry losers). It's also at this point where Isabelle starts to come to live, and the effect is quite amazing because Alec, Jace, and Magnus start to shed their skins as well. I love you Max. Also holy crap the image for this Max is SPOT THE FRAK ON. LOOK AT THE FACES IN HIS SHIRTS, LOOK AT HIS FAMILY, LOOK AT THOSE INNOCENT EYES AND THAT VAGUELY PERCY-JACKSON-Y HAIR. LOOK AT THAT PERFECT LITTLE (dead) BOY.

(Source fyeahlightwoods.tumblr.com)

Damn look at this Jace. Damn look at dat jacket. Damn LOOK AT CLARY'S FRECKLES SO MANY PEOPLE IGNORE HER FRECKLES AND HER CURLY HAIR AND NAME OF THE ANGEL HE HOLDS HER SO PERFECTLY. It's no secret that Cassie Clare likes to write Clace smut, and it's no secret that we like to read Clace smut, but I think this picture really captures the tension between the pair during the crazy, crazy events of CoG. It's nowhere NEAR the sexy scenes in the fifth book though.

(Source: Sillywilly13 at deviantART)

If you'd like a few more images, I suggest a starting point:

Also, here's a kickin' trailer for City of Glass!

Stay tuned for the City of Fallen Angels post on Saturday!

- Marlon

What are your favorite City of Glass fan-arts or fanfics?
Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Countdown to City of Heavenly Fire: City of Ashes

If you haven't heard, in anticipation of City of Heavenly Fire's release next week (ONLY SEVEN MORE DAYS!!!!)  we are doing a post for each book in The Mortal Instruments series. The posts will be done every other day until City of Heavenly Fire launches. If you missed it, check out the outfits Noor picked out for City of Bones!

For my post, I'll be doing a Cover Cosmetics post (shocking, right?). For this makeup look, I was inspired by ashes (because City of Ashes) and the fiery look of Clary's hair on the cover. I used a fire-colored glitter on the lid and black and silvery gray in the crease. I thought a smokey look was especially appropriate for City of Ashes.

The cover:

The makeup:

Thanks for checking it out and look out for the next countdown post on Thursday!

- Kiersten

What colors inspire you from City of Ashes?
Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Countdown to City of Heavenly Fire: City of Bones

So as many of you may be eagerly anticipating, City of Heavenly Fire, the final, probably heart-wrenching installment of the Mortal Instruments series, is due to release on May 27th. In honor of that, we've decided to do a post for every book in the series, posting one every other day, until the day we've all been waiting for, when Cassandra Clare rips our hearts out with a stack of paper. Instead of normal reviews, we're doing different types of posts for every book, so you'll have to tune in to see what we come up with for each book. For City of Bones, I've put together two outfit collages based on the book!

The first is inspired by none other than Isabelle Lightwood:

For this outfit, I focused very heavily on Shadowhunter black. This was more literal of an outfit interpretation the other one, and it's very clear where Izzy's influences come from. When I read the book, I was immediately drawn to Isabelle as a character. She's strong, independent, hardcore, and tough, but she isn't afraid to be a girl. "Nothing less than seven inches" is her motto, when referring to the size of her heels. Isabelle always dresses impeccably stylishly, and often looks intimidating. And that includes her Shadowhunting outfits. Shadowhunters look better in black, and no one pulls it off quite like Isabelle Lightwood. Reading City of Bones, I knew that even though she could wear plain black unassuming fighting gear, why would she? Isabelle Lightwood looks nothing short of badass. If you want to channel your inner Izzy, this is the outfit for you.

I picked the vest first. It's black and it's leather, which is always a stylish combo. I particularly liked the zippers. I enjoyed the fact that it was a vest because it gave her free movement of her arms and I liked the idea of her signature whip snaking up her arms without sleeves forming a barrier between the whip and her skin. I thought the leggings complimented the vest nicely, especially with all the zippers. The extra metal looks almost as fierce as Izzy as actually is on the inside. And then, of course, there are the heels. If anyone can run and kill demons in heels, it's Isabelle. Every inch gives more power to her already 5'9" frame. These heels give her feet room to breathe and have all the height she needs. I added in a few images of runes because those are always important for Shadowhunters, as runes are how they get their strength. We all know Izzy has courage and strength, so I thought those would be fitting. And last but not least, her whip. The one I included in this photoset is actually a bangle version of her signature snake whip so if you're trying to rock an Izzy-style outfit, make sure to add that finishing touch. It's her weapon of choice and she's mastered it like no one ever could.

This next outfit takes inspiration from the most fabulous, glittery character in the series, the one and only Magnus Bane (specifically, his parties) :

Magnus Bane is a fabulous warlock, known for throwing outrageous parties. So let's say you've snagged an invite to such an esteemed event? What do you wear? From all those times you've stared from afar, you've seen people walk in wearing everything from evening gowns to bathing suit, so where should your outfit fall on the spectrum? I put together something that should get you a second invite.

The pants caught my eye first. They just screamed Magnus Bane and I knew that if I was a guest at his party he would appreciate them. Those pants were a must in this outfit and what I based it around. Also, not gonna lie I actually own similar pants, and I always feel kinda Magnus Bane in them. Anyway, I knew I wanted to do gold and glittery as a theme with this outfit so I searched for a top with that in mind, as you can see with what I ultimately decided upon. I was debating whether or not I wanted to go with something with spikes or studs instead but I decided on this instead and I'm really happy with it. The shoes were next. Gold statement heels to compliment the top. After I picked the fundamentals, I knew I wanted something to give the outfit a pop. The word cape came to mind. I love the color red so naturally I knew what was coming next. I found this one and I thought it was beautiful and elegant and gave the outfit the finishing touch it needed. After that, I just needed to add accessories. The clutch and the bangle, in my opinion, compliment the outfit without distracting from it. The smokey eye look is necessary to add to the mystery a Magnus Bane party, and I especially love the pop of red, Last but not least, red lipstick to deal the deal and keep all eyes on you! 

I hope you guys enjoyed my City of Bones inspired outfits and I hope you're as excited for City of Heavenly Fire as I am! 

- Noor

What are you inspired to wear after reading City of Bones?
Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Review: Every Day - David Levithan

Every Day
David Levithan
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Whoa.
On Goodreads

Do you ever read a book and it leaves you with so much to think about but at the same time you can sum it up in just one word? For this book, that word is whoa. I have so much I want to say about Every Day but at the same time I have no idea how to get it out of me because it's all twisting around in my gut and most of it is feelings and very few of it is words but I will try.

Okay. Here goes.

This book seems to have formed a habit of doing things to me in opposites. Earlier I said it gave me both much to think about but also could be summed up in just the one word. Now, I'm saying that it took me by surprise and it didn't take me by surprise. It moved quickly and it moved slowly. I'm not sure how it managed to do these things but I'm sure that it worked it its favor, so props to David Levithan for harvesting the writing prowess of a champion.

The book was about A, who woke up in a different body every day. Sometimes A is a boy, sometimes a girl. As the book goes on, we learn more and more about the "rules" of A's moving around. A has never inhabited the same body twice. A doesn't identify with any gender. A always wakes up in a body roughly the same age, so as an infant, this was A's life too and A only realized something was strange at around age 5, when other children would speak of "tomorrow." A only moves bodied within the local area. If A is in New York City, A will wake up in NYC bodies until someone hops on a plane to California, which is when A will wake up in bodies in that immediate circle. It isn't clear exactly how far this radius extends but A is never more than a few hours from the last body. A can access memories from the body and tries to get through the day as normal and then go to the next one. That is, until A meets Rhiannon and then falls in love with her.

Okay, so now that we've got a little background here I'm going to interject with the few bits that didn't work for me and why I give this book 4.5 stars instead of 5. The explanation I gave above is pretty much all we get about A's state of existence. I don't want to spoil anything but something does come up later in the book about others like him and being able to stay longer than a day but it isn't explored because A does not want to explore it. I understand that with a first person narration we are only going to know what the narrator know and what he chooses to learn but I wish Levithan delved more into the reasoning/logic/science/magic/whatever behind A's existence. I was left with a lot of questions about how these types of beings exist. Are they devils, like one of the characters suggests? Are they types of humans or something more? There was a lot that could have been explored with this that just wasn't and I really wish it had been. I know David Levithan has the skills and the ability to come up with something genius as an explanation or elaboration and I really wish he had. Okay, that's my main problem with the book and that's honestly the only negative thing I have to say about it, and it isn't even really "negative," it's just me being a curious reader.

On to why I love the book so much.

Before A falls in love with Rhiannon, everything is systematic. A's routine is down to a science. After Rhiannon comes into the picture, all the rules and regulations fall to pieces. One of the things I really liked that David Levithan did was that he made A so dynamic. For someone who isn't really there at all, A has many sides. Not all of them were good. In fact, a lot of the time I didn't like A. I thought that A was often selfish and reckless and ridiculous and unreasonable. Other times I thought A was thoughtful and deep and deserved to be with Rhiannon. I wanted to know how it would end and what would happen and if what I knew deep in my heart was true. I also really liked the storyline with Nathan and I thought it was an interesting way to explore the character of A and it would have been an interesting gateway to explore creatures like A even further.

I was satisfied with the ending. Without spoiling anything I want to say that at first, I thought it was a bit of a cop-out ending. That everything was a bit too perfect and worked out too well, even though it wasn't traditionally happy. And then I understood that it wasn't perfect. That such a big sacrifice had been made. That work was going to have to be done and that love was being shown in the best way they both knew how. And it was beautiful.

Overall, this book left me reeling with all the emotions it put me through. I thought it was a phenomenal read and I would definitely recommend it to everyone.

- Noor

How would you react if you woke up in a different body?
Let us know in the comments!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: Bound - M.J. Stevens

M.J. Stevens
Series: The Guardians, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Interesting
On Goodreads

About the book:

‘No good deed ever goes unpunished, Mellea…’

Mellea Wendorn hasn’t exactly had a normal life. Misfortune seems to follow her, and her family, wherever she goes. However, when Mellea stops to assist a mysterious young man suddenly her prior hardships seem trivial.

His name is Leo. He is a Successor, a child of the Guardians of Selestia.

He is royalty.
He is handsome.
And he wants Mellea completely to himself.

Unable to escape the Guardian’s laws, Mellea must learn the ways of the royals. She is convinced her life can’t get much worse. But when a timeworn Guardian enemy arises from the shadows, Mellea must make a choice that will change her destiny forever.


When I started reading Bound it kind of felt like a contemporary - Mellea is a girl who just graduated from high school and is working to save money to pay for college; however, my mistake was not for long. Soon after, M.J. Stevens began to introduce Selestia and the idea of the Guardians.

As I was reading, I was skeptical at first. The inciting incident is nothing less than alarming - throwing Mellea into the world of the Guardians, a world she cannot escape. It seemed almost cruel to me what was happening to Mellea, especially with some of her initial exchanges with Leo. There's one in particular that I found particularly alarming and I was worried that she'd forgive him without another mention of the happening. Fortunately, M.J. Stevens had Leo bring up the event and sort of rationalized it to a point where I was no longer appalled by his actions and unable to forgive him.

Throughout the story I found it very easy to understand Mellea's point of view and to care about her. While at times she felt younger than her age, more like the 16-year-old heroines in other young adult novels, I still felt like she had reason behind her thoughts and actions. The way she transforms when she finally decides to make the best out of the situation is something I think can apply to all people in various situations.

While the reveal of the enemy was fairly predictable, I still enjoyed that aspect of the story as well. The enemy was interesting and I was constantly intrigued by what they were up to and what the Guardians would do to defeat them. The action helped to balance out some parts of the story that were less eventful, such as Mellea's study time.

All in all, I did enjoy Bound. I liked the idea of the Guardians as well as the enemy and I'm intrigued by some of the elements in the story that were set up for later on. I look forward to see what M.J. Stevens has in store for Mellea, her relationship with Leo, and the Guardians' battle against their enemy.

- Kiersten

Purchase links:

About the author:

M.J. Stevens is a true storyteller.

For a long time, words were never her best friend. However she has always had a creative spirit and writing became the lead way that she could share her ideas with the world. Today, it is her number one passion in life.

“I wish I could say that I was one of those kids that read insane amounts of books and that’s why I was inspired to write, like a lot of authors. But I actually found the joy on people’s faces [when they talk about stories they love] more inspiring and wanted to create something of my own that will give young readers that same excited expression.”

Author links:

Tour-wide giveaway: Paperback copy of Bound (UK English edition)(US/CAN)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Tour hosted by:

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Guest Post + Giveaway: In Starlight - February Grace

A while back, Amrutha reviewed Of Stardust for a blog tour (review here). Today, we bring to you the sequel, In Starlight, with a guest post from its author, February Grace, and a giveaway! Look forward to a review of In Starlight from Amrutha early next month.

Music and Magic: The Soundtrack for In Starlight
By February Grace

Music and Magic: The Soundtrack for In Starlight by February Grace Writing and music have always gone hand in hand for me. Short stories, even whole characters have had their beginnings in music, and Gus (the main character in In Starlight) and even the novel itself are no exception.

I found that it really helped me to shift focus from Till, the female lead in the first book Of Stardust, to create a new playlist to listen to while working on this book. Of Stardust was written from Till’s perspective, so it was only right that to tell the story from Gus’s for the second novel that I would need entirely new musical inspiration, with just a few songs crossing over lists to help me tie the books together in my mind.

While Gus also has two separate playlists all his own (containing many, many maaaanyyyy songs) the playlist I ended up with for In Starlight throughout the writing and editing process evolved and grew to a total of 39 songs. I won’t list them all here, but I will give you some of my favorites, those that I felt really helped shape the story (or fit it well all on their own.) I will always associate these songs with Gus, Till, and In Starlight.

Auld Lang Syne (Royal Philharmonic version)
Now We Are Free (Celtic Thunder)
Auld Lang Syne (yes, again LOL) (Courrier version)
Between (Courrier)
That’s How I Knew This Story Would Break My Heart (Aimee Mann)
Run (Smash Cast Version, Katherine McPhee)
Where I Stood (Missy Higgins)
Just Give Me a Reason (Pink)
Time and Again (a-ha)
Up In Flames (Coldplay)
Pie Jesu (Sarah Brightman)
Awake (Josh Groban)
Wonderland (Paul Young)
What If (Coldplay)
Try Again (Keane)
Be Still (The Fray)
Us Against the World (Coldplay)
Look After You (The Fray)
Don’t Look Down (One Republic)
Day One (Audiomachine)
Somewhere Only We Know (Lily Allen version)

…yes, believe it or not, those are not all the songs that I listened to while fine tuning the story, but the ones I feel are perhaps best representative of it.

I hope that you enjoyed this little look behind the scenes (or under my headphones, as it were) and that you will enjoy reading In Starlight.

Thank you so much to all the readers who asked for more about Gus and Till, and thank you to We Live and Breathe Books for hosting me today!

In Starlight
February Grace
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Publication Date: April 30, 2014
On Goodreads

About the book:

"IN STARLIGHT -- the eagerly anticipated sequel to OF STARDUST!"

Their wish was sealed…was their fate?
Young Fairy Godfather Gus Duncan is living his clan’s unfortunate family motto— Learn to Suffer — to a greater degree than he ever dreamed.
The woman he loves is withering away beneath the burden of memory, of one perfect night with him she was supposed to forget.
Facing a reality he never imagined, he must make the decision of his life: shatter the most sacred rule in the fairy code, or lose his beloved Till forever.
Can true love save her when even magic fails?


Chapter Two Hide and Seek 
April 2, 2013    

     “Catch me if ye can, little girl…” Gus taunted under his breath. He watched as Till wandered aimlessly about twenty feet from his current position.
     Their strength as a team continued to grow steadily day by day, but Gus saw no reason why they shouldn’t have a bit of fun tonight, and hone her skills while they were at it. They had no other pressing business to attend to, so he’d suggested a round of the Fairy Godparent equivalent of an old children’s game: he’d hide and she’d seek.
     Only to complicate things, he wasn’t just hiding in the house, or even in the same state. The options for where to go this time were open world-wide, and he planned to make it a very interesting exercise.
     Till was beginning to get frustrated, and he found it absolutely adorable though he’d never admit it to her. Even if he were allowed to share such feelings with her, he knew her well enough by now to understand that the idea of being cute when annoyed would only make her more upset.
      “Where are you…?” she mumbled. He read her lips through the glass and fought the urge to laugh. She was so close now, but he’d shielded himself from her thoughts just enough that she couldn’t easily see him mixed in among the mannequins in the display. Or so he thought.
     A second later she was standing next to him, tapping a pink-shoed foot. “Window at Harrods? Really? This is the beginner level of the game?”
     Gus did laugh now; a low, soft rumble.
      “Mum, look!” a child cried, knocking on the glass and pointing wildly at Till and Gus as his mother focused on her phone. “The mannequins are alive! They’re moving!”
      “That’s lovely, darling,” the mother said, totally oblivious.
     Gus gave the boy a small wave and winked at Till. “Level two…” he said, and then he was gone; leaving the child with his mouth hanging open and a mind full of questions.
     Gus next popped up inside the Louvre; followed by a quick stop at the Arc de Triomphe after deciding the Eiffel Tower would be entirely too obvious a choice.
      “Ah, Paris in springtime,” Till grinned as she touched him on the shoulder. “How about it’s my turn now?”
     Gus raised an eyebrow. “Go on, then, Tilda Mae. Show me what ye’ve got.”
     Till giggled as she vanished, and Gus took a moment to catch his breath and refocus his energy on shielding parts of his mind from her that would be dangerous for her to go near. “I shouldn’t have brought her here,” he whispered to himself, leaning back against the nearest wall. “She outshines the City of Light.”
     As beautiful as his surroundings were, their impact was lost on him.Winter had felt eternal, now spring was hollow — a grayed-out shadow of expected splendor. How else could it seem without her love?
     He closed his eyes a moment and tuned in as best he could on the signature trail that Till had left. She was good, but not so good yet that he couldn’t find her with relative speed.
     He strode up to her, grinning, as she stood on an Old Town Edinburgh street, trying to catch her breath.
      “Drat it, you found me.”
      “Maybe ye should’ve taken the low road.”
     Till scoffed. “Brat. Okay, here we go. I hope you’re in the mood for a walk.” She made sure the coast was clear and then, she vanished.
     He next found her behind a stand of poplar trees on a rolling Irish hill. For a moment the sight caught Gus off guard. He had not been back to Ireland since New Year’s Day.
      “All right, ye have proved y’er learnin’,” he said, also starting to tire. “Enough for tonight.”
      “Awww, c’mon,” Till nudged him gently with her elbow. “Just a couple more?”      He sighed. He couldn’t say no to her, at least not when it wasn’t absolutely necessary. “Very well. One more, then the last one is mine.”
     Till squealed and then disappeared.
     Gus followed the breadcrumb trail through her thoughts, and the next time he looked up, he was amazed by what he saw.
     He was standing in a theme park before a life-sized castle, with fireworks soaring overhead. Families with small children were everywhere. He turned around and gazed upon Till, her face alight in the glow of the nighttime spectacular with the same wonder he saw in the faces of the children.
     He approached her and shook his head. Only she would bring them here.
      “A magical place, indeed,” Gus said, the edge of his lip curling slightly as he considered how little the Hollywood version of Fairy Godparents matched the reality. Till surprised him by reaching over and looping her arm around his.
      “It is so beautiful.”
     She was standing closer to him than he was comfortable with now, and memories he had to hide from her flooded his mind. He was overwhelmed by the thought of her hands moving over his shoulders…her arms wrapped around him. Her passionate kiss, her gentle caress. Everything that made his One Wish so perfect, and would keep it as fresh in his memory in a hundred years as it was the night it had all taken place.
      “We… better go,” Gus said, gently withdrawing his arm. “Last one’s mine.” Then he was gone.
     Till obediently followed, though when she located him again she didn’t look happy, she looked unsettled.
     He’d decided to hide last of all in a secluded place behind the Music building at Dreams Come True University; a lovely little spot skirted by trees and flowers.
      “What’s the matter then?” he asked, concerned as all the color drained from her face.
      “Game over…” Till’s voice faded along with the blush in her cheek, and her thoughts grew faint as well.
     He was alarmed; he could not recall her mind ever becoming so unreadable, so quickly, in the past. Sure, a deeper thought might be replaced by one a bit more trivial and he’d know that she wished to change the subject, but never all of her thoughts completely dying away as they just had. He stopped short of placing a hand on her shoulder. “Are ye all right, Till?”
      “Yeah.” She ran her hands up and down her arms as if to warm them, though it was as comfortable a temperature as ever on campus. “Can we just call it a night?”
      “Sure thing.” Gus wondered at the change in her mood. He had no idea why being in this particular place should cause her to shut down so completely. “Let’s go on home.”
     An instant later they were standing in the driveway of the house on Finch Street.
      “Good night,” she said, hurrying up the steps and through the doorway before he had a chance to say — or ask — anything more.

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About the author:

February Grace is a writer, artist, and poet who lives in Southeastern Michigan. She sings on key, plays by ear, and is more than mildly obsessed with colors, clocks, and meteor showers.

Author links:
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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Review: Shredded - Karen Avivi

Horse of Wind and Shadows
Karen Avivi
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Not extraordinary
On Goodreads

Hey hey friends, long time no see. Shredded, although not my favorite book to ever exist, was actually pretty interesting, and something I would definitely recommend picking up for a fast read. While Avivi does not present anything too extraordinary in the novel, her writing and plot both combine to produce a story worthy of recommending to you guys.

This book is about a summer road trip: but not exactly what one would expect from the words "road trip." Shredded presents the story of Josie, who is a hardcore BMX biker, and will do absolutely anything to qualify for the big freestyle competition. The reason I liked the book as much as I did was because of this character and her unwaverable ability to stay focused on her sport, despite any romantic complications, issues with family, or trials she may undergo. Avivi drops the reader straight into the world of BMX, and as a reader, I could actually feel the waves of competition and excitement rolling off the book (I'm competitive myself, can you tell?).

The other reason I liked the book so much was the author's dedication to feminism (I'm a feminist too, can you tell?). Karen Avivi makes a big splash with her insistence that men and women can do just about anything equally, including when teenage girls take on the sport of BMX biking. This is mostly shown in Josie, who firmly believes that femininity and emotional reactions are weak, and that she must appear to be strong in front of the boys that she is competing with. This kind of ideology is far too common, and I have to say a lot of the time I act the same way. It is marvelous to watch Josie overcome her struggles in this book.

The really unfortunate thing about this book, which brought it down from a 4.5 rating, is that the characters are mostly static and stereotypical: Josie, for example, gets her heart broken by a boy and then decides she wants to be the best at BMX. Otherwise, while some issues in the book (like familial and relationship problems) were a big stretch to actually present other conflicts in the novel, Shredded is pretty alright.

- Amrutha

Do you have something you're really committed to, like Josie and BMX?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Review: Horse of Wind and Shadows - L.B. Shire

Horse of Wind and Shadows
Horse of Wind and Shadows
L.B. Shire
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Romance
Rating: 3.25 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: B
On Goodreads

My personal apology to L.B. Shire (and all you lovely lost souls who follow this blog) for taking so long to post this review. I've had the book for quite a while but time management and school and . . . life gets in the way of books. There's a lesson.

I received this book for an honest review, and so here we go:

Horse of Wind and Shadows is about a lot of things, which I like in a novel. The fact that it is a scant 138 pages (ebook, so about 300 in standard publications) despite being so packed is one of the main reasons I kept reading.

It's primarily about Taryn Perkins and her search for meaning, purpose, and a magic horse that keeps rejecting her friend request on Facebook. Taryn lives in a post-zombified world, and often fantasizes about what life would be like outside her "purgatory" (pg. 6). In this vein, she is also paranoid, to the point that indirectly informing Damon that she's on the lookout for aforementioned horse is, to her, "letting down her defences" (pg). Taryn is quick to attachment and brutally unforgiving when things are taken from her, she's very headstrong despite often betraying the softer side of herself. She's a complex character in a world that has been minimized and simplified to survival or death. I love love love Taryn's character and how she moves the story along, especially since she's so high-strung. I swear, "relief washed through her" is the narrator's chorus.

It's also about Damon "I don't have a last name because damn I'm mysterious", a mysterious boy with seaweed in his hair (probably related to Percy Jackson somehow . . . ) and his mysterious . . . mysteries. Other words to describe him are clandestine, surreptitious, and so on. (A lot of the spoilery bits revolve around Damon so let's leave this section . . . to the imagination.)

And then there's Flynn, the best friend, the protector, the one who wants Taryn to cut the crap. But Taryn cannot cut the crap, Taryn is determined to decide her fate by constantly seeking danger. Conflict ensues between the pair. Comedy eclipses. Mysterious seaweeded stranger confounds the conflict. I like Flynn because he's pragmatic and he takes life in strides, simultaneously being disheartened by hearing of a child losing his parents, yet quick to critique his leader. His dynamic with Taryn is kind of exciting because they exist on opposite sides of the spectrum: Flynn's more or less trying to make peace with the world he has, while Taryn wants out.

What I like, though, is that this is all jammed into the first few pages . . . I'm a huge fan of straightforward introductions. The novel immediately takes off from this, giving Taryn a (seriously sad, horse-related) back story.

Plot-wise, the novel excels at pace, depth, and movement. I was hooked from the first few pages, constantly wondering how everything would unfurl and kind of amazed that zombies and magic were so well woven into the same texts. The twists are in the right places, but a couple (especially on the romance part) feel underwhelming and predictable.

What keeps this from a four stars, though, is the language. Often (more often with Taryn for some reason) there are redundancies. For example: "Had he been swimming in the ocean? she wondered, staring into the turbulent waves on the left" (pg 5). Cutting off "in the ocean" makes this sentence clearer, easier to read, and a hell of a lot less clunky. That's one example among many. It isn't so much of a problem, but it's one of those things that push me to one side of the fence.

- Marlon

What's your favourite animal? Zombie animal?
Let us know in the comments!