Saturday, August 30, 2014

Double ARC Review: Trial by Fire - Josephine Angelini

Trial by Fire
Josephine Angelini 
Series: The Worldwalker Trilogy, #1
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Something different
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

I picked up a signed ARC of this book at BEA this year after immediately being drawn in by the premise. A young girl, Lily, who suffers from life-threatheting allergies that keep her from doing anything and everything lives in present day Salem, a normal, every-day town. Until she gets transported to a different Salem in which there's a different version of Lily, who is powerful and evil and cruel. Also there are witches and things, how cool does that sound?

Anyway, the very beginning of the book was honestly kindof disappointing and I really thought I was going to be in for something cringe-worthy but once you get past the part where she's in normal Salem and gets to witchy-Salem, it gets exponentially better so just hang in for those first two chapters. They're only 40 pages out of the 374 the book possesses but they are probably the weakest point of the book and definitely do not showcase Angelini's writing abilities at all. I thought the descriptive technique and the writing style itself was just off and lacking in these two parts, especially the way she described the characters' appearances. Also, I wasn't a fan of what was going on, with the whole typical being in love with your best friend and then him noticing you and then hurting you scene, it all just felt so dramatic and made the book seem like it was going in a different direction than it was and I'm really glad those two chapters weren't representative of the rest of the book.

It's clear that once she started worldbuilding, Josephine Angelini really got into her element because as soon as Lily goes from her Salem into the other Salem, the writing gets so much better. The writing itself increases in quality and the descriptions flow better and really help set the tone of the world and what's about to happen. I enjoyed how the book felt very paranormal but also historical at the same time which had a lot to do with its being set in Salem and everything thats associated with it. Also, going back to the worldbuilding, she did a good job of not just adding typical witch tropes, and adding in things that would make her book different, such as the concept of willstones, which I thought was one of my favorite parts.

The characters were all very interesting as well, especially the ones we see exist in both worlds. I definitely really enjoyed Rowan but I don't think that's a stretch to say. Lillian was also one of my favorites to read because of how fleshed out she was. I think some of the minor characters were a little too two-dimensional even for minor characters but that wasn't a huge hindrance to the way the book read.

Overall, I definitely enjoyed the book a lot more than I thought I would from just the beginning and I think it was refreshingly different from a lot of other paranormal, witchy books out there!

- Noor

Kiersten's Review of Trial by Fire
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Extremely well thought out

While attending BEA this year, I decided to pick up an ARC of Trial by Fire after reading the description - the idea of a Salem witch trial retelling definitely intrigued me.

After a few months between first reading the description and actually starting the book, imagine my surprise when the first glimpse into this world was to that of Lily Proctor, a modern day girl with really bad allergies. What? This was not what I signed up for. However, as slow as the portion of the book that takes place in modern time is, the story gets infinitely better when Lily gets sent to a world of magic and witches.

The thing that is the most impressive about Trial by Fire is indubitably the world that Josephine Angelini builds throughout the book. While reading it, I could not get over how much thought went into this story - the background of the concept is just so well rounded out. Josephine Angelini thought of everything, from how magic works to the social order to what magic can do.

Besides the incredible world building, I thoroughly enjoyed the main characters.

Lily has a great sense of humor throughout the story. Her modern references juxtaposed with a bunch of people who don't understand them was truly comical. Besides that, Lily is an overall well balanced character. She is a character who is well balanced between being willing to sacrifice for the greater good and being worried about her own interests. She can be strong, and she can be weak; she can be brave, and she can be cowardly. Lily has so many dimensions, making her feel so real - she's put in such an odd position throughout the story, and I really enjoyed seeing her grow into the role she chose to play.

Besides Lily, Rowan is AWESOME. I loved seeing the dynamic between Rowan and Lily throughout the story. Even though Rowan isn't thrown into a different world that he has to adjust to, he's still put in an awkward position when he has to watch over ex-girlfriend's alternate world persona. Yes, it is as complicated as it sounds.

All in all, I really liked Trial by Fire! While it was far from the fastest paced story in the beginning, once it got going, I really got into it and loved it. The enormity of Josephine Angelini's idea is something I can barely wrap my mind around because it is so complex and well developed. I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on the next book - I can already tell this wait will be too long!

- Kiersten

What would an alternate version of you be like?
Let us know in the comments!

Friday, August 29, 2014

ARC Review: Hunter's Trail - Melissa F. Olson

Hunter's Trail
Melissa F. Olson 
Series: Scarlett Bernard, #3
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Great third book
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

It's kind of funny to me when I think back to why I started reading this series - my Amazon gift card was running low and I wanted to find a cheap ebook to read. Enter Dead Spot as a Kindle daily deal and my love for this series began.

I was quite excited about Hunter's Trail after reading Trail of Dead (review here), and then even more so after reading Sell-By Date, the Molly novella (review here). As a result, when Melissa F. Olson offered me a copy for review, I was beyond excited. Hunter's Trail was definitely a great third book in the series, although it's probably my least favorite of the three.

After Dead Spot followed vampires and Trail of Dead followed witches, it was cool to finally get insight into the mythology of werewolves. Melissa F. Olson always does an incredible job inventing a complex and interesting mythology in her books and this one is no exception. Melissa F. Olson's take on werewolves is so cool, twisting the way the reader sees werewolves in an almost scientific yet still magical way.

While the former two books in the Scarlett Bernard series focused on finding one villain, this book is a bit more complex than that. In Hunter's Trail, there are several different powers in action working against Scarlett, making this book a bit more complex than the former books. The biggest downfall to this was that there was less action and more sitting around and analyzing the situation. Since Scarlett and Jesse were partners working together again in this story, they had to have a lot of conversations about why certain things could have happened and what they had to do next. While it was definitely important and interesting, it was less exciting for the over all plot.

As always, I thoroughly enjoyed Scarlett's humor - she has a dry humor and she often incorporates some gallows humor as well. I do wish there had been more. Scarlett-Eli time in the book though - there is never enough Eli.

Overall, while there are still more Scarlett Bernard novels coming in the somewhat distant future, I thought Hunter's Trail was satisfying as the end to a trilogy. Even though it left the story open for more Scarlett adventures, it definitely tied up a lot of loose ends that came about throughout the series.  I highly recommend this series, especially to lovers of urban fantasy and mystery!

- Kiersten

What's your favorite type of paranormal being?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Stay with Me - J. Lynn

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 Stay with Me by J. Lynn!

Stay with Me 
J. Lynn/Jennifer Lynn Armentrout 
Series: Wait for You, #3
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Waited on by: Amrutha
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

At 21, Calla hasn’t done a lot of things. She’s never been kissed, never seen the ocean, never gone to an amusement park. But growing up, she witnessed some things no child ever should. She still carries the physical and emotional scars of living with a strung-out mother, Mona—secrets she keeps from everyone, including her close circle of college friends. 

 But the safe cocoon Calla has carefully built is shattered when she discovers her mom has stolen her college money and run up a huge credit card debt in her name. Now, Calla has to go back to the small town she thought she'd left behind and clean up her mom’s mess again. Of course, when she arrives at her mother’s bar, Mona is nowhere to be found. Instead, six feet of hotness named Jackson James is pouring drinks and keeping the place humming. 

 Sexy and intense, Jax is in Calla’s business from the moment they meet, giving her a job and helping her search for Mona. And the way he looks at her makes it clear he wants to get horizontal . . . and maybe something more. Before Calla can let him get close, though, she’s got to deal with the pain of the past—and some very bad guys out to mess her up if she doesn’t give them her mom.

OH MY GOD ANOTHER ONE IS COMING OUT. I have been following this series since the beginning of my book blogging days - the review of the first book, Wait for You can be found here, and the review of the next story in the series, Be with Me can be found here, as well as my Waiting on Wednesday for book #1.5, Trust in Me here. Clearly, I have a lot invested in this series. While at first, I really only wanted to continue the books because I thought they were bad enough that they were funny, after reading Be with Me, I got genuinely invested in the series. J. Lynn's writing style and plot got bounds better in the most recent book, and I found myself really looking forward to the next one.

Calla is a character from Be with Me, and following in suit to the other books, Stay with Me will focus on a minor character from the last book in the series. Calla was a meek girl with a scar running down her face, and a sad history with her mom, and while I have never heard of Jax, I hope this book shows the improvement the last book did.
- Amrutha

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

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Review: Crown of Midnight - Sarah J. Maas

Crown of Midnight
Sarah J. Maas 
Series: Throne of Glass, #2
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: alshdjflkjah
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

*This review is spoiler free for the entire series*

Right off the bat, I'm going to apologize in advance for my fangirling, because I just have so many feels about Crown of Midnight. First of all, Crown of Midnight was absolutely incredible. After reading it, I was just like, "I'm sorry, but what did I just read? What? WHAT?" But in a good way, of course. There were just so many things and all the mystery and all the magic and this is a ridiculous sentence.

Anyway, once again, Sarah J. Maas delivered on an exciting adventure with the ever sassy and completely badass Celaena Sardothien.

The best part about reading Crown of Midnight after waiting such a long time after Throne of Glass was that I got to jump back into the incredible world Sarah J. Maas built and catch up with the awesome characters, who all continued to be awesome in this book. One of the best parts was more Chaol! I'm a huge fan of Chaol, so I especially enjoyed some more of him.

The way Celaena's character fleshes out more in Crown of Midnight is awesome as well. I never really thought of Celaena as a character with a lot of secrets, but as Crown of Midnight progressed, it became more and more apparent to me that she had more secrets than I had ever imagined. Finding out these secrets throughout the story (and especially at the end) was so much fun and it gave Celaena a lot of background that was a mystery before.

All in all, I can't believe I waited so long to read Crown of Midnight. If you haven't read Throne of Glass yet, I highly recommend that you do so because this series is awesome! The ending of this book is absolute craziness after craziness and I cannot wait to see what Sarah J. Maas has in store for Heir of Fire!

- Kiersten

Do you like reviews of books in a series that don't spoil the earlier books?
Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Stuffed Animal Saturday [15]

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

Wow, this is like the third time Jeremy the bear has been featured on SAS which is kindof disproportionate considering the entire top of my armoire is covered with stuffed animals and then my sister has a whole bunch upstairs but it happens and I've been relocated due to guests so I'm running on limited supplies aka the first stuffed animal I could grab. It's ok, Jeremy is fabulous, especially because he's the only stuffed animal I have that's a handmade Kiersten creation and he's appropriate for this post because it's currently exactly a year after I moved in to college, and he was a graduation present. Also, I am in this picture and please appreciate how adorable I am, like who even needs stuffed animals when you're this cute? Anyway, to counterbalance the cuteness, Jeremy and I are reading an intense book (well, actually just finished reading last night): Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant, the ARC of which I got signed at BEA!

So Far: Like I said, we just finished the book last night and we thought it was absolutely phenomenal! Jeremy tends to ramble but I'm going to stop him because I want to save it for the review, although I will say that it was unlike any book I've ever read. I definitely have a lot to say about it!

Jeremy thinks the characters are all really interesting and diverse and he thought the writing was fantastic! My own opinion is the same, and I'd like to add that I totally got chills at the "twist."

A Sneak Peek: Jeremy and I really loved every bit of the writing from this book and it's really hard to pick a passage to include here, especially a non-spoilery one, so we're going to include the opening to this novel. Keep in mind that this is an ARC so this might not be the final version of the book:
"My eyes opened.
I was on my back.
A mist pressed close, all around me, so close that it was more like a blanket than a fog. The mist was the color of yellowed teeth and it moved without a breath of breeze, moved as if it had a will.
The mist swirled slowly, sensuously, and it touched me. I don't mean that it was merely near to me and therefore inevitably touched me; I mean that it touched me. It felt my face like a blind person might. It crept up the sleeves of my sweater and down the neckline. It found its insinuating way under rough denim and seeped, almost like a liquid, along bare skin. Fingerless, it touched me. Eyeless it gazed at me. It heard the beating of my heart and swept in and out of my mouth with each quick and shallow breath.
The mist spoke to me, wordless, soundless, and yet so I understood, and it said, Shiver."
That right there is the very enticing opening to a very beautiful book.

- Noor

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

Friday, August 22, 2014

ARC Review: Sway - Kat Spears

Kat Spears
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Surprisingly Delightful
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Thanks to St. Martin's Griffin for providing a review copy at Book Expo America!

The blurb and cover of this book simply do not do it justice. I was expecting a romance-y frilly fluffy book, because books with covers like these give me a story from a girl's point of view of a boy that flirts with a girl and basically passes her off to another boy while being in love with her the whole time. The book I imagined, as I am sure anyone who looks at this book might imagine, was an angsty teen drama. Congrats to Kat Spears for writing one of the most honest PoV's of a teenage boy I have ever seen, and for throwing me headfirst into a story that I would've never expected.

Jesse Alderman is totally hot, charming, and is everyone's go-to fixer upper. Need weed? Need an essay written for you? Need cocaine, alcohol, revenge, or a girlfriend? Sway is your man. He is such an original character, and his PoV is literally so open and blunt. Jesse admits to his problems and it's obvious that he's a power player, but he keeps his calm and because our author is great at writing character development, we get to see more and more of him as the book continues. Jesse hates showing weakness, is actually a little bit of a softie, and loves to take care of people.

I'm having a hard time expressing exactly how I feel about this book because it was just so surprising, but good at the same time, and every detail I relinquish about it feels like a betrayal of that surprise. I just want to say that I love Jesse's voice and the way Spears writes. The language is so true to that of a teenage guy's, and most authors don't do a great job of capturing the teen male lead's voice: so impressed by the writing and characterization of Jesse.

The plot of the book is honestly not at all centered around the romance, which is played up in the blurb and on the cover, but instead on friendship and growing as a person. I have so much to say about this but to be quite honest, it feels like a betrayal of the story to give away what happens, even in the beginning. I'd suggest reading the book immediately and allowing yourself to be immersed in the fantastic writing and incredibly interesting plot.

Moral of the story, go read this book because the words I have do not do it justice, nor can I say much more about this without spoiling literally everything that makes this book so unique and awesome.

- Amrutha

Do you have a go-to person to solve your problems?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: Feral - Holly Schindler

Holly Schindler
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: August 26th, 2014
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Chilling

About the book:

The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan in this haunting psychological thriller with twists and turns that will make you question everything you think you know. 

It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew. 

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened. 

But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley…. 

Holly Schindler’s gripping story is filled with heart-stopping twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.



Feral was honestly a pretty interesting book, and had a concept I could really get behind. There were parts of it that I was iffy about, but for the most part, it was a worthwhile read, and I'm definitely glad I decided to take part in this book tour, because this book brought something new and refreshing and most of all, chilling, to the table.

Okay, so if you read the description blurb above, you'll know that Claire Cain is spending her semester in Peculiar, Missouri and notices that the death of this girl Serena is really starting to mirror the circumstances of her own attack just months ago. As the book goes on, it becomes clear that Claire is definitely suffering from some sort of PTSD because she starts to confuse the incident in Chicago with her time in Peculiar more and more, finding herself in spells of dazed panic, thinking she's in places and situations she isn't. I really like how her character is dealt with because when I was reading the passages where she described how she felt like she had no control, I could really feel the sense of desperation, and I could feel the way her dynamic with her best friend was changing because she didn't know how to talk to her anymore. Schindler did a really good job describing these characters.

In fact, the characterization in this book is spot on. We have Becca, who is introduced as a pretty cheerleader airhead type and was the best friend of Serena, the girl who was found dead in the woods. At first we think she's as vain as she appears but she softens up and really shows a more mature and kindhearted side. Then, there are the guys. Chas is typically standoffish and kindof mean and Owen has something to hide. Rich refers to their whole group as "the bold and the beautiful" which was something I really liked and tends to keep to himself but helps Claire out.

The middle of this book, in my opinion, kindof dragged on a bit and not much happened. There was a lot of filler and a lot of exposition and a good chunk of it was unnecessary.  I found myself starting to wonder if anything was actually going to happen. However, things did start to happen and Claire and Serena's paths started to intertwine and we found out exactly what Serena's fate was and how Claire factored into it. In my opinion, it was slightly...I wouldn't say far-fetched (well, it is but not in a negative way) but...weird, I guess, for lack of a better term. Not in a bad way. Definitely interesting. Definitely worth checking out.

I also really appreciated that the book was well written. The dialogue was well formed and the book language was sophisticated which added to the voice and really matters in a book like this.

I think some of the plots, especially having to do with the ferals, could have been a little more refined, but they were definitely promising and I really enjoyed them and I really loved the whole vibe this book gave off and the eerie feeling from start to finish. I got the whole Black Swan feeling and I think it definitely merits the comparison and I would totally recommend the book, although I wish the middle didn't drag quite so much.

I really needed to read this book. I personally feel like I've been stuck in a rut of reading the same genre and same type of book over and over and this was something new and something different and I enjoyed it a lot and I hope whoever wins it will too!

- Noor

Purchase links:

About the author:

Holly Schindler is the author of the critically acclaimed A BLUE SO DARK (Booklist starred review, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year silver medal recipient, IPPY Awards gold medal recipient) as well as PLAYING HURT (both YAs). Her debut MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY also released in ’14, and became a favorite of teachers and librarians, who used the book as a read-aloud. Kirkus Reviews called THE JUNCTION “...a heartwarming and uplifting story...[that] shines...with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve.” Bloggers also quickly fell for the book; Susan at Bloggin’ ‘bout Books said of THE JUNCTION, “Triumphant and compelling, this is one of those books that will make you cheer. And look a little bit closer for the unique beauty in all of us.” FERAL is Schindler’s third YA and first mystery / thriller. She encourages readers to get in touch, and can be found at,, @holly_schindler,, and

Author links:


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Monday, August 18, 2014

Review: Knockout Games - G. Neri

Knockout Games
G. Neri
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Gritty
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Apologies to G. Neri and Carolrhoda Books for not being able to review this copy (received at BEA) earlier!

With that said, there is very little to say about this book other than it's pretty damn good if you can sit through with it.


Knockout Games has a simple premise: a game played by young kids and teens try to knock out an unsuspecting stranger with a single punch. At first I considered that the author might have written Knockout Games to draw attention to a societal problem I had barely read about. But it seems, with the complexity of the novel, that the premise really is a premise. The plot has a pretty simple structure, following the story of Kalvin, the leader of a "gang" of middle and high-schoolers who participate in the knockout games, and Erica, a well-to-do teen from out of town who is caught up in the knockout games simply because she has a camera. Of course, Erica's initial involvement of just filming and editing turns into something more until her choices become quite gruesome.

There is natural narrative tension built from the events Neri is piecing together, but most of the plot is predictable. Erica's initial status as an "other" is so well defined, it seems obvious she's going to have to face the conflict of being involved with the gang.


The two main characters are Erica and Kalvin, and both are characterized very thoroughly. Erica's progression into the gang seems genuine rather than forced, with the weight of her parents' divorce and her loneliness, etc, on her shoulders. Kalvin, the dropout who struggles for power and control in his life, is also fleshed out and understandable. Most connections any reader will have will fall between these two, whether it be frustration or hatred or excitement or isolation.

I found what most interested was the relationship between Kalvin and Erica, and how they bring their separate worlds together in a fantastic crash. This dichotomy that Neri presents in these two characters really drives the novel forward, and rescues much of the suspense that the predictability steals.


The language of Knockout Games is gritty. That's the one word I can dredge up to describe it. It isn't graphic, nor dull, but Neri's tone, phraseology, everything about the way he writes grates on the back of your mind the way the story is. Nevertheless, it's very useful in bringing the streets of St. Louis alive, crawling with all things dark and dangerous.

In all, the novel is a fantastic exploration into the socio-psychological responses of young adults to pressurized and unstable communities, with interesting, fleshed-out main characters, and tough, gritty language. Unfortunately for me, the plot fell slightly short, being slightly predictable. I would recommend this to anyone who can handle a bit of mild violence.

- Marlon

What's the most foolish thing you did as a kid?
Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

ARC Review: The Beautiful Ashes - Jeaniene Frost

The Beautiful Ashes
Jeaniene Frost 
Series: Broken Destiny, #1
Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Disappointing
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

When I picked up and ARC of The Beautiful Ashes at BEA this year, I was really excited to read it. Visions of strange realms? Parallel realms? A war that could doom the world?! I'm in! Unfortunately, it wasn't as promising as I had hoped.

This might sound odd, but despite the fact that I was really excited about The Beautiful Ashes, I kind of went into it blind. I read the description before BEA, but between then and when I read it, I didn't read it again and I forgot what it was. This is what I do for a lot of what I read, but for The Beautiful Ashes, it made the beginning of the book a complete struggle to get into. I started reading the first two chapters and my brain was just like, "What is going on?? What????? THIS DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE." I was so confused that I had to flip over to the back of the book so I could have some semblance of an idea about what was happening. If I was a patient person I could have just read a few more short chapters to understand what was happening, but I just couldn't handle how cryptic it was and I needed to know what was going on.

Despite my initially reaction when reading The Beautiful Ashes, it definitely got better and I enjoyed reading it. The concept is really cool, being a twist on angels and demons and other things. I've never read a book that had a mythology like this and I thought Jeaniene Frost did a good job developing the idea.

The place where The Beautiful Ashes really fell through for me was the characters. The characters just didn't leap out of the page at me - the main character, Ivy, definitely had thoughts and emotions but the writing didn't make me feel those emotions with her. As for our other main character, Adrian, I just didn't think he was the most compelling love interest. Sure, I shipped it, but I wasn't as invested in the outcome as I've been in other books.

Overall, I liked The Beautiful Ashes but not as much as I had hoped. I've never read any of Jeaniene Frost's other books and I don't think this is a reflection of her best work. While the characters weren't the best, the concept was really cool and I enjoyed learning more about the world. I'm looking forward to seeing what else Jeaniene Frost has in store for the second book in the Broken Destiny series!

- Kiersten

Have you read any angel and demon mythologies recently?
Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Double ARC Review: Anatomy of a Misfit - Andrea Portes

Anatomy of a Misfit
Andrea Portes
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: September 14th, 2014
Rating: 1.25 out of 5 Stars
Word Rating: :'( boo
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository


Geez. Where do I even start with this. I was so SO excited for Anatomy of a Misfit when I got it at BEA 2014, because lets be real, it has an awesome title and cool font on the cover (I'm usually pretty on point with judging books by their cover/title (side bar: if you've read any of my other reviews and notice a lot of them aren't good, I usually know when I won't like a book, but I try to read it anyway, because sometimes I am so wrong and turn out grateful that I read a book despite my initial issues with it)).

Alright, let us start off with the main character. OH MAN. This chick is whiny and obnoxious and so obsessed with the "pecking order" and I think she might actually be racist towards herself(????) and slut shames and I literally hate her so much. As a character, Anika is so annoying - while also being completely unrealistic. I understand that often, main characters feel super different from their peers and that is the foundation of the book. However, the "misfit" here, who is oh so different, is basically "the third most popular girl in school" who looks really "vanilla." She is self-described as someone with friends (although she basically talks shit about her friends in the book), and feels like she doesn't fit in because of her Romanian (vampire??? seriously she makes a lot of weird stereotypical racist remarks about her own heritage, which is especially weird because she grew up in a fancy home in Romania, and I've never come across a protagonist who was so inherently ignorant to her own culture). Also never come across a narrator who hates the last name "Dragomir," because, lets face it, that is a wicked awesome last name and anyone who doesn't appreciate it is just not my type of person. Plus she kept saying how she was like spider soup or spider stew and neither of those things sound particularly appealing or teenager-y to me.

Okay, other than the obnoxious narrator, there is the issue of the other characters. Pretty much everyone in this book is super static and stereotypical: nerd-gone-bad-boy (with a vespa? I wish I knew what was going through the author's mind), the queen bee (#1 in the very important pecking order), and the school slut (#2 in the pecking order and our girl Anika's best friend, despite the slut-shaming). I don't think I have to say anymore about these characters, we all feel the same about stereotypical, overdone characters, especially when they're not done right.

Moving on to romance: there was like a weird 3-way love triangle thing going on here, but the author made me want to root for no one, and when both guys fell for Anika(out of the blue, too), it was like insane instalove (like WOW, THE INSTALOVE HURTS). Logan and Jordan both fell for Anika so fast, and I feel bad saying this because it is clear that Portes put in the effort to make it seem like Logan and Anika had a meaningful relationship, but just to be honest, neither of these relationships were ship worthy.

Also like totally like this is gonna be such a full review of the book like woo! Did you enjoy reading that? I didn't like typing that. But unfortunately, this entire book is riddled with little "teenage" mannerisms, but these are intertwined in a way that is not classic or a way that sets the tone of the novel, but instead, in a way that just annoyed me. Sometimes, too many colloquialisms in writing is just off putting, and this was one of those times. To add to the issue, the writing was a little to middle school grade level (which I am usually okay with) but in this scenario, coupled with the teenager sayings and mannerisms, the writing just seemed of poor quality.

Also, the ending sucks and pretty much the whole book is just not worth the effort in my opinion. The plot moves a little too quickly for my taste, and while some humor is incorporated, the characters are just not worth the investment of time and Anika will drive you insane. At times the book had a good moment or two, but geez, do yourself a favor and don't bother reading this. The only good thing this book has going for itself is a rockin' title.

- Amrutha

Noor's Review
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Anatomically Incorrect 

I finished this book a few days ago, and have kind of been stewing over it because I really don't know how I feel about it. I don't think I hate it as much as Amrutha does, but I definitely do have issues with it. It's just that there are also some parts I really enjoyed so I don't know what to feel but maybe talking about the good and the bad will clear my mind by the end of this review.

The first thing I'd like to discuss is the fact that this book tried way too hard. In the description on Goodreads, it says "Anatomy of a Misfit is Mean Girls meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower" and I really think Andrea Portes put too much effort into making it just that and less into fleshing out her characters or her plots. Anyway, I'm not so sure she actually knows what high school is, or how it works, or how teenagers actually act. Either that or she chooses to ignore it in order to make her plot work. Like, there's the whole scene with the magazine and Stacy Nolan and how Anika, our dear protagonist, feels bad that Becky, resident Queen Bee, has spread a rumor that Stacy is pregnant (except Anika doesn't realize Becky herself made it up because she's dense or something) and decides that sitting next to her, as the third most popular girl in school, will make it all okay.  I mean, she does spread a counter rumor but it was all just so weird and unrealistic and also probably hella suspicious. Like, if you have never sat next to this girl ever and all of a sudden the day after a huge pregnancy rumor gets spread about her you're telling people it's not true and sharing magazines with her, people will figure something is weird about the situation. Anyway, people at her school are waaaaaay too preoccupied with who's dating the "losers" and who's hanging out where and all this stuff that I feel like doesn't actually happen in high school. Like yeah, I've had the occasional "They're a couple? Never would have expected that" moment in my four years of high school but like after the initial surprise I will probably never stop to care about their relationship status or social status ever. I couldn't name you the first, second, and third most popular girls in school but apparently the count isn't just in Anika's head because later Shelli and her have a discussion about how Shelli thinks she might be bumping up to two and Anika doesn't believe her. Also, Anika knows she will move past number 3 because her name is Anika Dragomir, which is weird and ethnic. Becky even calls her Immigrant, which is really problematic behavior but Anika apparently doesn't care because she wishes to be rid of her vampire blood pretty badly. Anyway, I don't think I've ever seen anyone's name get in the way of their social standing. I mean, in the real world, ethnicity and names and all that stuff actually does play a huge part in things like getting jobs or being profiled by the police, but that is not what this book is about. This book is about high school and in high school literally no one cares what your name is, as long as they have something to call you by. Maybe this is because white people and their names were a minority in my high school, but I go to a college that is 60% white people and I still don't think having a slightly different name is going to stop you from climbing the social ladder.

Wow okay I just realized that's a huge wall of text about how Andrea Portes cannot write high school realistically so I'm going to stop that and switch gears. I will say that this review might sound really nitpicky, but if you look at the bigger picture, it's that there are so many little things wrong that add up and just make this book a little more than slightly uncomfortable to read. Anyway, let's talk about characters and the dimensions they possess (or don't) woo! I feel like her characters are so two-dimensional. Her dad only cares about her grades and only calls to make sure she still has straight A's. Her mother is kind and listens to all her problems and never gets mad, even when she steals over a thousand dollars in cash. Her stepfather eats a lot and grunts a little. None of these characters have depth. Her sisters don't speak ever and just glare at her. Why do they hate her so much? She seems to just mind her own business at home. A boy came to her door and they glared nonstop and Anika's internal monologue let us know that they would probably murder her. Why? I don't know. Are they jealous? Do they want Anika's cute boy for themselves? Why do they care so much about that and so little about her the rest of the time? I wish I could tell you. They show some compassion at the end, but honestly if they didn't in that situation, I'd be a little concerned. Even the main characters are flat. Becky is queen and she's awful and rude and no one knows why. Shelli is kindof dumb but still sweet and I like her better than Anika to be honest. Speaking of Shelli, the first words Anika says about her are negative, and then she starts gushing about how they're best friends. At first I wasn't sure if they were only talking about of social obligation but no, Anika just thinks she's better than Shelli but chooses to love her regardless of this. Maybe because she's a pretty decent person. Maybe she wants makeup tips. Who really knows?

This book has two instaloves to form a very unstable triangle and neither of them make sense. Like, this guy out of nowhere likes her and okay, I guess he knows her from school and thought she was cute or cool or whatever, but the second guy literally sees her once and can't let it go, even though she's blacked out for half that interaction. I think Logan isn't supposed to be instalove, because he got to know her on their rides home from school, but it's so rushed that it really does feel like he's saying he loves her way too soon. And of course, these bad boys have bad sides and I usually can pick sides in a love triangle easily, but this time I found myself unable to choose, not because I loved them both, but because I wasn't invested enough to care.

So what did I like? Well, once you get past certain aspects of the voice, Andrea Portes's writing itself isn't actually bad. I mean, a lot of it just reads like straightforward internal monologue, but there are a few gems in there that I like. Also, she tried to make the voice really sarcastic and biting and I don't think she pulled that off like she intended but I didn't think it was awful and even though Anika was really overdramatic and occasionally whiny, I didn't mind the parts where she tried to add in the sarcastic tone. Also, I like some of the descriptions a lot, like in the beginning when Anika describes herself:
"I bet you think I have dark hair and dark eyes and look like I listen to the Cure but you're wrong. On the outside I look like vanilla pudding so nobody knows that on the inside I am spider soup.
Unless they look closer.
For instance...Yes, there is blonde hair, blue eyes, pale skin. That is true. But, you see...everybody around here has a button nose and I have more of n ode that looks like it got lopped off by a meat cleaver. There's another thing too, I have a boy jaw, like a square jaw, and cheekbones you could cut yourself on. Also, there are dark purple circles around my eyes that might be adorable if I was a raccoon."
I personally found that a very amusing description and pretty effective in telling us what she looks like in an unconventional manner. I also like the idea of her  comparing her insides to spider soup, or spider stew, or spider whatever else she uses because she comes back to that idea a lot. I think it's a unique metaphor.

However, what I don't like about it is that even though throughout the whole book Anika mentions how she's spider soup and how she's dark on the inside and is all twisted up, she really isn't at all. She gives literally no examples as to how she could be as rotten on the inside as she says she is. Are we just supposed to go along with it? She seems perfectly normal to me. Like, the worst thing she did was steal money from her terrible boss, but she had a moral turnaround about that too. Otherwise, she's as normal as it gets. Definitely not the misfit the title must be referring to. She has popular friends and two cute guys chasing after her and nothing is really all that dark about her.

Okay,  I think I might have rambled a lot more than I intended to and I definitely have realized, now that I see all that I've written, that the one positive thing I wrote about isn't enough to make this a book I'd recommend to other people. It was a very quick read and mildly entertaining but definitely not as good as I wanted it to be. I'm disappointed. That beautiful cover and title could have held so much more.

- Noor

Have you ever misjudged a book by its cover?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Unmade - Sarah Rees Brennan

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 Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan!

Sarah Rees Brennan
Series: The Lynburn Legacy, #3
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Waited on by: Kiersten
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Who will be the sacrifice?

Kami has lost the boy she loves, is tied to a boy she does not, and faces an enemy more powerful than ever before. With Jared missing for months and presumed dead, Kami must rely on her new magical link with Ash for the strength to face the evil spreading through her town.

Rob Lynburn is now the master of Sorry-in-the-Vale, and he demands a death. Kami will use every tool at her disposal to stop him. Together with Rusty, Angela, and Holly, she uncovers a secret that might be the key to saving the town. But with knowledge comes responsibility—and a painful choice. A choice that will risk not only Kami’s life, but also the lives of those she loves most.

This final book in the Lynburn Legacy is a wild, entertaining ride from beginning to shocking end.

Even though I have a ton of September release ARCs from BEA that I need to read, I've still found it in my heart to be excited for Unmade. I really enjoyed Unspoken and Untold (review here), and I can't wait to find out what happens next. I probably won't be able to read this right away (womp) but hopefully I won't have to wait too long to dive into this one!

- Kiersten

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

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

ARC Review: False Future - Dan Krokos

False Future
Dan Krokos
Series: False Memory #3
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia
Release Date: August 19, 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Rick Riordan x Veronica Roth
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

I have come full circle! Around a month ago, Disney Hyperion mailed me False Future and I promised to review it. I flew through False Memory, hooked but a little hesitant, and I was slightly shaky about False Sight, what with its insanely winding, borderline absurd plotline. Nevertheless, Dan Krokos has proven one thing: he knows how to end a series.

And oh my gods he ends it so well.

Plot-wise, the book begins as expected, with the our clone gang prepping for war. Noble, Sophia, Rhys, and Peter are the characters we have left. (Silent moment for Noah, Olivia, etc.)

Miranda's back! Within the first ten pages. It would have been a massive twist not to bring Miranda back, so this was expected. However, it doesn't feel cheap as, by now, death isn't a final in these novels. I liked the touch of guilt that the other characters express when they choose to bring her back, though, knowing the impact the newly war-torn world will have on her. It gives a kind of substance to death that is usually painfully absent from stories where characters are written back to life often(see Supernatural seasons six and onward). Even Miranda, whose been revived as she is twice, knows it's more complicated than it is often made out to be:
"Does it matter how many times I come back to life? It has to." (Krokos, 60). 
Then the book starts to delve into the heavier action material, where Krokos's grip on suspense, phraseology, and choreography shine.

When the action ebbs for a moment, I love that Krokos branches out, allowing humor and characterization, mainly through dialogue, to drive the story until another fight scene, like when Rhys and Miranda bring back a couple of invader clones and are pepping to interrogate them:
"We should let them wake up on -- " Rhys begins, but my slap across M-96's face interrupts him. "Or we could do that." (49) 
Krokos has stacked the odds so strongly against our protagonists that there is automatic tension and suspense in the novel, as readers try to cling on to the hope that is, at the beginning of the book, non-existent. This is mostly due to the insurmountable force of the villains, the Originals (or the Originals' Originals' Originals' etc) of "True Earth" and their army. Krokos knows how to write a crushing villain.
"Take heart citizens of New York. This is not your end." (35)
The invading army from True Earth is terrifyingly relaxed, almost clinical in their actions. A polite predator, like Hannibal.

But true to the first two novels, Krokos pours suspension and tension into this novel as if it were the last thing he could possibly do. There's so much tension that one of the driving forces of tension from the first novels (memory shots) is completely overshadowed by the hell-hole our characters are in now.

The narrative beelines through dramatic scenes and mini-climaxes until we get to the holy crap moment. Which, of course, happens within the first few chapters. Olivia, the original Olivia, reveals dark secrets to our Miranda, which fuels the novel. (And, dare I say, the reader, because I burned through these pages with reckless abandon). And then it happens again. And again. The plot unravels the mythology, or, for clarity, if Krokos's mythology was a house, he flung a tornado full of plot twists at it.

There are a few drawbacks to this, however, in that I felt overloaded with new information. Miranda and the director are what??? And then: Wait so the future is whaaaattt?? And CAN THEY REALLY BRING HER BACK?

Krokos does well to allow these twists to settle in, but I feel as though the velocity of the pulsing plot only allowed for brief moments to take in anything.

The end is undoubtedly controversial. Miranda still makes incredibly dark choices. Innocent people still die. Miranda's last line might even seem entirely selfish:
"Finally, we have the rest of our lives." 
At least, selfish was what I initially thought, until I considered the novel at a greater depth than its prequels.

Throughout False Future, though, Krokos gives attention to characterization that was slightly lacking in the second novel, and, to an extent, the first, and allows it to function as a secondary drive alongside the plot.

For instance, when Rhys and Miranda attack another pair of Roses early on (around chapter 5, they check to see if they'd accidentally killed them. Their humanity and empathy are kept intact throughout a gruelling war between universes when it would be so easy to be merciless. In this way, Krokos keeps our protagonists from being like their enemies, and justifying our sympathies for their plight. It's just damn good writing.

And one scene, which I'm sure few people can skim over, is just painful. After sneaking into the Verge (even buildings can be written back to life, I suppose) under the guises of the Roses they interrogated, they find themselves facing a Peter, Noah, and Olive, the members of their team that are missing. These are members of another team, but in this moment they are humanized. The enemy isn't the eyeless, or the spiders, which can do nothing but kill, but it's these people. In Miranda's words:
"It's so familiar it hurts." (71)
This focus on characterization often lends double meaning to words, especially these last lines. For me, "we have the rest of our lives" is not an invocation from the first novel's Miranda, who desperately wanted a normal life, it's from a Miranda who knows she can never wipe the slate clean for herself, who has been taught by the impossibly difficult decisions she's had to make. It's a shout to the dark that the final scene is a small, but beautiful, victory in itself.

But I can't explain it myself. That last chapter will thaw your freezing, broken heart (thanks Krokos) like Elsa's at the end of Frozen!

There are some errors with the science side of False Future. And no, this isn't a critique of the Sci-Fi aspect, because that would be nonsense in a Sci-Fi book. Rhys, trying to comfort Miranda early on, deals out the loveable "we are clones of ourselves" line. While the fact remains that most of our cells are replaced within ten years, the fact remains that it's only most cells. For examples, neurons in the cerebral cortex are never replaced, they simply die out. This doesn't affect the novel much because Krokos usually is correct on these points, and even so, one factual error is not enough to overturn a thrilling end to a series, especially when said from a character rather than from an authorial voice.

All in all, well done Mr. Krokos, and special thanks to Disney Hyperion for making this happen!

- Marlon

Do you believe in destiny?
Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

ARC Review: A Little Something Different - Sandy Hall

A Little Something Different
Sandy Hall 
Series: N/A
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Super adorable
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

A Little Something Different is just like the title suggests: a little something different. While the story is about Lea and Gabe falling in love, it’s told from the points of view of various people who interacted with them and knew they belonged together. The perspectives vary a lot: there’s Lea’s roommate, Gabe’s brother, the Chinese food delivery guy, the Starbucks barista, the diner waitress, the angry guy from creative writing, a bench, a squirrel, and many more – it’s kind of like a big party!

The way Lea and Gabe’s story progresses is pretty slow at first – they meet in creative writing class and are very shy around each other. It takes them a while to even formally introduce each other and have a real conversation even though they seem to always sit next to each other in class. Since there are no passages in Lea and Gabe’s perspective, we get most of what they’re thinking through what they tell their friends. The way the story progressed and how Lea and Gabe talked to their friends felt really natural.

Some romances either feel like the two know they are destined to be together but something is keeping them apart or they didn’t get along but then realized they belong together. A Little Something Different isn’t like that at all. It starts out as a crush for Lea and Gabe, Lea saying in passing to her friends that Gabe is cute and Gabe asking girl advice from a friend. Their love story is a slow one, starting at the beginning of the school year in September and ending after finals in May. It perfectly portrays the slow progression of a crush into a relationship, especially for someone who is kind of shy and not too forward about his feelings.

Speaking of shy, I’m talking about Gabe – he is by no means the typical love interest in a story. Gabe admits that he’s shy pretty early on in the book, writing something for creative writing about how shy he is, but it’s clear that something else is holding him back. I liked that his struggle with something that happened in his past was clearly something to struggle with but wasn’t as extreme as these types of things are in other contemporaries. While it’s a big deal to him and he has trouble coming to terms with it, it’s not like What Happened takes over the entire story – its just a bit of background that gives him more dimension.

While Gabe was very shy, Lea was a bit more forward. I enjoyed the way Lea would get frustrated about the relationship and how much she talked about it with her friends. Lea was self conscious and worried about what Gabe thought about her and her struggles were so normal that it’s something everyone can relate to.

The best thing about this book is that it has a sense of humor. The different narrators of the book were really funny about the way they talked about Lea and Gabe. It was especially humorous how some of them would meddle in the relationship and give advice, and even when they weren’t sure why they cared about Lea and Gabe at all. If you read my recent Stuffed Animal Saturday post (here), then you know how funny the squirrel’s point of view is. I’m definitely biased towards the squirrel and the bench (there are literally passages from the point of view of a bench), but I enjoyed the voices of all the other narrators as well.

Overall, A Little Something Different lives up to its name and tells a really different kind of love story. I picked up this ARC at BEA in hopes of an adorable story with a great sense of humor and I was not disappointed. I highly recommend checking this one out when it’s released, especially if you like sweet romances and stories from multiple points of view.

- Kiersten

What type of romance story is your favorite?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

ARC Review: Forest of Whispers - Jennifer Murgia

Forest of Whispers
Jennifer Murgia
Series: N/A
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Thumbs up
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

With me, for fantasy, there is usually a love or hate relationship. In the case of Forest of Whispers, it was a lot like love. The novel follows two characters, Rune (which, for the record, is an awesome name) and Laurentz, in old-timey fantasy Bavaria. While the realm was new to me, the concept of a teenage girl with a dead mother having to run away from everything was not. Also, based off the blurb and the introduction of Laurentz, I swore I knew exactly how this book would go, regardless of the author or realm.

However, I was pleasantly surprised that almost none of my predictions came true (seriously, I'm usually pretty good at guessing what'll happen in a book, so when an author can completely blindside me with a plot twist, I get really impressed). When building a fantasy realm, I find that not a lot of authors strike the right balance between description and plot. However, in this case, that did not stand to be true, as Jennifer Murgia blew me away with her ability to transform Bavaria into an interesting place for me. Not to mention, her set up of the witch hunt and the run away child was both unique and interesting, despite the fact that the run away child trope exists almost everywhere.

Let us talk a little bit about Rune and Laurentz - oh man, there better be some hard romance in the books to come. I feel like it has been so long since I read the first book in a series and not had romance thrown in my face 17 pages into the fantasy novel. The romance here is slow building, and I know that once this book is released and people start swarming the shelves for it, everyone is going to be on the edge of their seats for the next book waiting to see what goes on with Rune and Laurentz. Slow building, subtle romance is hard to come by, and I think Jennifer Murgia pulled it off perfectly. I feel like, in the case of this story, leaving the characters to grow on their own and not forcing them into a rapid fire love story was so refreshing. The only issue I really had with these two characters is that the writing of their PoVs was SO SIMILAR. I feel as though they weren't completely provided their own unique voices (well, Rune is presented first really so to me it was her voice that was unique, not Laurentz's), and that took away from the story a little bit. Also, there was only really one Laurentz chapter for like every ten Rune chapters, so I kind of pretended it was all Rune (I feel like this author should maybe stick to one PoV at a time).

But can I just rave about the plot again: I don't even want to say anything about it other than the words "awesome" and "fantasy" and "wow plot twist" because that is all you need to know to know that I cannot divulge any more information about this book. Also, the characters: while I feel like Laurentz's PoV wasn't really presented in a unique light, I did really like how Murgia wrote Rune's chapters. I feel like she perfectly captured the fear of the situation without overplaying it, which almost never happens in this kind of book about a run away, so I'm impressed. Rune is honestly really cool because she always sticks to her moral guns, and doesn't shake on those decisions, and I loved having her as a protagonist because she was so strong, despite the air of fear. Also, these characters GROW SO MUCH -- if you guys have read any of my other reviews, you know how obsessed I am with character development being done well. If I don't like how a protagonist progresses, the book starts out with a 2.5 star rating for me, and as you can tell by that line alone, Murgia does an awesome job.

When I picked up this book at BEA 2014, I got it as a signed ARC from Jennifer Murgia, and I'd just like to say thanks for being super cool in person and for a great book! I seriously cannot wait to get hold of the next book and find out what happens to Rune and Laurentz.

- Amrutha

Which of your favorite authors are especially good at slow building romances?
Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

ARC Review + Giveaway: Positive: A Memoir - Paige Rawl with Ali Benjamin

Positive: A Memoir
Paige Rawl with Ali Benjamin
Series: N/A
Genre: Memoir
Release Date: September 14, 2014
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Gripping
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Wow, I picked up Positive at BEA this year and I'm so glad I did because I flew through this book in just a couple hours and thought it was totally great! Memoirs aren't really my usual genre but I'm always open to them and this one centered around the author's middle school years as an HIV positive student who faced bullying, much of which came from people she thought were friends.

The book was so gripping and compelling and as soon as I picked it up I couldn't put it down. For one, even though it's heavier material, it's easy to get through. The writing details her time as a preteen and the maturity of the writing mirrors that so even though the content is about straggle and bullying, it's not hard to read. Once you start, a certain rhythm develops that pulls you through until you realize you're 100 pages past where you promised yourself you'd stop so you could finally clean your room like your mother's been asking you to for a week and has now just done herself. On the flip side of that, however, is that the writing oftentimes felt choppy and juvenile, which is where the star deduction comes from. That's my biggest qualm and while it's not a big deal, I think the writing could be greatly improved, especially because it's so good in some parts and so mediocre in others. For example, the one chapter called Red, which I'd quote but then I'd be quoting the whole thing and it'd be super long, I thought was SO well written and and I LOVED the way she described her emotions and actions and everything. I wish other parts of the memoir had used descriptive techniques like that. I think having two people write the book kindof made for a sort of disconnect. That being said, it didn't take away too much from the book and it was still well written and evocative and all the points that needed to be made were still made so definitely still read it. It's definitely still a nicely written memoir, I just would go over it again with a fine-toothed comb in the final review, maybe.

Okay, so this book is so powerful because it's the real story of this girl who goes through quite a bit of turmoil and I found myself hanging onto every word. I remember reading about the part where her guidance counselor is useless and legitimately getting so angry and wanting to punch her in the face and go on an angry rant at her because of how ignorant and stupid she was being until I remembered that even though this actually happened, it's still a book and I can't actually do that, especially not about a situation that happened years ago. It literally filled me with fiery rage, that scene. And the part with the note that she didn't write gave me anxiety and the IM's stressed me out. I said this book was gripping because I felt myself feeling everything in response to Paige's life experiences and forgetting that I wasn't supposed to be exhibiting actual emotions.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this story. It didn't take long at all, I started and finished within a few hours and the book felt very light despite the content. Dispersed throughout the main story of her battle with HIV are small stories about Paige's other life accomplishments, like how she entered and won Pageants, or how she did cheerleading. I would definitely recommend reading this book if you're looking for a lighter memoir that still packs an emotional punch!

- Noor

We also picked up another ARC of Positive, so we'll be giving it away! I really enjoyed this book so I would definitely recommend entering and experiencing a great book!

To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway is open US only, unless you are willing to pay the shipping, and is open through August 23rd. The winner will be selected shortly after and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. Good luck! :)

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