Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Empire of Storms - Sarah J. Maas

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 Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas!

Empire of Storms
Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass, #5
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Waited on by: Kiersten

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those don't.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin's journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

I absolutely LOVE the Throne of Glass series, so I'm so excited for the release of Empire of Storms next week! I know there was some drama on Twitter about spoilers and some other things, but I've managed to avoid the spoilers (perks of being too busy to go on Twitter), and I'm still really excited about Empire of Storms! I can't wait to see where this story goes in this book! It's sure to be epic and probably heart smashing.

- Kiersten

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

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Have Been on Your TBR Since Before You Started Blogging

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

Books that have been on your TBR since before you started blogging!

Kiersten's Picks

WLABB has been around for 3+ years, so this is going to be a little embarrassing. There are so many books I've wanted to read since before I started blogging, but for this list, I'll be sorting my Goodreads shelf by date added and including the top five!

The Night Circus
Erin Morgenstern

This is the actual first book that I ever added to a shelf on Goodreads. I'm not sure how I stumbled upon it, but I know that since I got Goodreads, I've always wanted to read it. In the past, Marlon and Noor have both written glowing reviews of The Night Circus, but I still haven't gotten around to it.

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children
Ransom Riggs
Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children 

I really have no excuse for this one because I own this book. I don't know why I keep putting it off. I'm hoping to have time to read this before the movie comes out, but knowing my school schedule, I won't have time to read the book or see the movie. Hoping for the best!

Looking for Alaska
John Green

I've been really slow at reading John Green books. I'm not much of a contemporary reader, so even though I've heard great things about his books and I've enjoyed the two that I've read, these just don't end up being a reading priority for me.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Laini Taylor
Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1

This is another book where I have absolutely no excuse for not reading yet. I've heard this series is really amazing, and I really do want to read it soon! Also, Strange the Dreamer sounds so amazing, so either way, I will definitely read a Laini Taylor book in the next year. I must!

Lesley Livingston
Starling, #1

Honestly, when I saw this on my TBR on Goodreads, I was only vaguely aware of adding it, but I didn't even remember what it was about (which isn't rare for me, but still). I read over the description again before adding it to this list, and it sounds really great. Maybe I'll get around to reading it sometime in this lifetime.

Noor's Picks

I am really bad at procrastinating reading books. I can have a book I want to read so intensely and then just...not read it. For months. Years. My entire life!!!! Like Kiersten mentioned, we've been around over three years so it's probably a little sad that I still haven't gotten around to reading these but it's not for lack of interest!! Just lack of action (like me taking action, not action that happens in the book). I am going to make a vow to finally read the books on this list within the next six months.  

Marie Lu
Legend, #1

Okay, so I'm not a very organized person and so I don't really keep track of my TBR other than noticing a book looks cool and making a mental note to eventually read it (much to the dismay of Kiersten, who thinks we should all utilize our Goodreads as much as possible). If I remember correctly, I made the mental note to read Legend back in high school (around winter 2012-2013) which was definitely before we started blogging. I own both Legend and Prodigy so there's really no excuse and I have no idea why I reach for other books when I could reach for this one and finally read it, but here we are.

Shatter Me
Tahereh Mafi
Shatter Me, #1

I have wanted to read Shatter Me forever. I'm highkey obsessed with Tahereh Mafi as a person -- her Instagram, her other Instagram, her marriage to Ransom Riggs (one of my favorite authors) and I feel totally fake doing so without having read any of her books but I just keep putting it off???? I've heard so many good things about the writing style of this one and I actually think I'm gonna prioritize it to be read sometime soon, especially since her book Furthermore (that Kiersten just reviewed) is coming out next week and if I read that I'll probably just be ~in the zone~ and read this too.

Dan Wells
Partials Sequence, #2

This is one of the most ridiculous ones on this list. So Partials, the first book in the series, came out in 2012 and I read it maybe a month after it came out after seeing it in like the New Releases section of my Nook. And I really really loved it, I thought it was one of the best ~post-apocalyptic dystopian robot fiction~ books I'd ever read (that description makes it sound like A Mess but it really isn't, I highly recommend it). And obviously since I read it so soon after the release, there was no sequel. So I patiently waited and then, when the sequel did come out, I just didn't read it??? I honestly can't tell you why. I own it and everything. And the worst part? The third book came out too, and I still haven't even read the second book!!!!! Why am I like this!!!!!!!

Marissa Meyer
The Lunar Chronicles, #2

Okay, so you know how I said Fragments was one of the most ridiculous ones on this list? This is the most ridiculous one on this list. I read Cinder a few months after it was published and totally fell in love with it. I lovelovelove fairytale retellings and I was so enamored with the way this story was told. I made sure to keep this series on my radar so I'd know about sequels. And yet, five more books (and like five million mini-stories) later, guess who has still only read that first one? I am absolutely The Worst. Scarlet is actually one of the books I plan to read relatively soon but I'm so ashamed I didn't read it when it actually came out and keep up with the series.

Kristin Cashore
Graceling Realm, #2

I actually bought Graceling, Cinder, and Partials all at the same time when I went to Boston and we visited a really nice bookstore. I think it was the fact that I was reading all those books I'd bought one after the other that the thought of reading the sequel fell by the wayside. And then I impulsively bought Bitterblue one day because I saw the words "companion novel" on the cover but I realized it was the companion to this book so once I get around to purchasing it I will finally finish this series.

What books have been on your TBR the longest?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Review: Furthermore - Tahereh Mafi

Tahereh Mafi
Series: N/A
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 30, 2016
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thanks to Dutton Books for the ARC I received at BEA!

The best word to describe Furthermore is whimsical. From the start, the reader is thrown into a fantasy world called Ferenwood. In Ferenwood, color is everything - the more colorful, the more magical. However, poor Alice has no color at all, making her feel inadequate and out of place. On top of that, her mother seems to hate her and her father went missing three years ago. On her twelfth birthday, Oliver, a boy she once went to school with, says something that changes everything: he knows where her father is.

Furthermore follows this beloved duo as they journey into the land of Furthermore, which is far stranger than Ferenwood. In Furthermore, there are no rules - anything is possible - and that makes it so much more dangerous. Furthermore is absolutely not the kind of place you would want to vacation.

I couldn't help but be reminded of The Phantom Tollbooth (one of my favorite books) and Alice in Wonderland while reading Furthermore. There's something about the logic (or lack-there-of) in these three books - the fact that you never know what sort of backwards logic is actually normal in the world - that I absolutely love. I also thoroughly enjoyed the way the story was told. I kind of just imagined sitting on the floor, looking up at Tahereh Mafi reading this book to me with fun voices. It really does read so much like a fairytale, but it's more like a Grimms brothers fairytale than a Disney one.

More thoughts this way!

When it comes to the characters, I really loved the way Mafi built them. They were very far from perfect, and they had to learn how to get past things before they could truly work well together. There are so many themes explored in this book, from friendship and trust, to darker themes like prejudice and abandonment. There's even a bit with Alice's mother having an addiction to berries that make her less sad when father is away.

The plot of this book was so topsy turvy! The ending was a bit abrupt, but I kind of liked it because it was so Furthermore. Sometimes there's a big struggle to get where you're going, but other times you might just end up in the right place at the right time.


Overall, Furthermore was such a fun, whimsical adventure. Even though this is middle grade (which is not a typical genre for me), it's such a fun fantasy that I think anyone can enjoy if they're in the mood for something lighter. Here's to hoping there will be a sequel!

- Kiersten

What's your favorite fantasy world?
Let us know in the comments!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Review: The Geography of You and Me - Jennifer E. Smith

The Geography of You and Me
Jennifer E. Smith
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Poppy
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Disclaimer before I talk about this book: I love Jen E. Smith. I think the other books of hers I've read are wonderful and some of my favorites!! However, I think this one just missed the mark.

I picked this up when I was looking for things to bring back for my sister from the library (because my mom thinks she doesn't read enough) and when I read the premise I actually thought it sounded kinda like The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (which I loved) which seemed a little suspicious, but they're pretty different stories other than the whole ~interesting meet-cute and parting of ways~ thing.

Anyway, I was totally expecting to love this book but I just couldn't seem to enjoy it. The story focuses on Lucy and Owen -- two teens who live in the same NYC apartment building but have never met and get stuck in the elevator together during a citywide blackout. Even though they bond through the night, they're pulled apart when Lucy moves to Edinburgh and Owen travels across the country with his dad.

The book's biggest positive was the writing itself. Jennifer E. Smith is definitely skilled and even if I had issues with the story, I can't deny that she wrote beautifully. One of my favorite parts is when she describes the way Owen feels about his life by comparing him to a fish that has "the capacity to grow in unimaginable ways if only the tank were big enough." She uses the phrase "he'd always felt himself bumping up against the edges of his own life" which I really liked and feel like a lot of people can relate to. There were a few other gems and notable snippets and I think they really significantly added to the reading experience. If this story was told by an author with less flair for language, I'm sure it'd have a much lower rating.

Even though I appreciated JES's writing, I wasn't that into the story. I'm always here for cutesy cheesy love stories with no other plot than the Happily Ever After but I really feel like nothing happened in this book. It was all fluff. And I am not anti-fluff!! I love fluff!!! But sometimes fluff just doesn't work, especially when it is trying so hard to not be fluff. I think fluff should own up to it and accept itself for what it is. Anyway, I just kept waiting for plot progression but it was so minimal.

Also, I thought Lucy was a kinda boring main character. She had no friends in New York and the ones in Edinburgh I wasn't that invested in, no stand-out personality traits, and even when I felt a little bad for her because I thought her parents left her behind on their vacations for funsies, I stopped feeling bad when I realized she had never actually bothered talking to them about wanting to go. Owen was a little bit better. His problems were a little less frivolous but he could be irksome too. I liked him as a whole though, although one thing that still bothers me about his character is that, when his dad and him decide to take off on a cross-country road trip in the beginning of the school year, he's like ~oh yeah I have enough credits to graduate it's chill~ but if he had enough credits at that point before his first semester was over he should have had them at the end of his junior year and should have already applied to schools!!!!!!!! I know it's nitpicking but it's always gonna bother me.

Anyway, the whole idea of the story is cute and I love the fact that they send each other postcards and that there's a turtle named Bartleby and that Owen likes stars but overall I was underwhelmed and got bored pretty quickly and anxious to finish. It was a quick read so it didn't take up too much of my time or anything but it's been a few weeks and I've already forgotten half of the details so that about sums it up.

- Noor

What's the weirdest place you've met someone?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Furthermore - Tahereh Mafi

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 Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi!

Tahereh Mafi
Release Date: August 30th, 2016
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Waited on by: Noor

There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn't miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. The day Father disappears from Ferenwood he takes nothing but a ruler with him. But it's been almost three years since then, and Alice is determined to find him. She loves her father even more than she loves adventure, and she's about to embark on one to find the other. 

But bringing Father home is no small matter. In order to find him she'll have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. Her only companion is a boy named Oliver whose own magical ability is based in lies and deceit--and with a liar by her side in a land where nothing is as it seems, it will take all of Alice's wits (and every limb she's got) to find Father and return home to Ferenwood in one piece. On her quest to find Father, Alice must first find herself--and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss. 

You might have seen Kiersten's last Stuffed Animal Saturday talking about this book and I'm sorry to be repetitive but I am just so. freaking. excited for it. This may or may not be a good time to admit I actually haven't read Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me series yet (I think I own them though??? maybe). I of course do plan on reading them in the near future but after God knows how long of stalking her Instagram and obsessing over her existence as a person, I feel like this is the perfect book to start off my Tahereh Mafi reading journey with -- it's only one book so it's not daunting and it has the perfect premise. There's only like two weeks left until it comes out and I am counting down every last second.

- Noor

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

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Set in a Fantasy World

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

Books set in a fantasy world!

Kiersten's Picks

A Court of Mist and Fury
Sarah J. Maas
A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2

I absolutely LOVE the world in the ACOTAR series, especially the Night Court! I could go on and on forever about how much I love Rhysand and his squad, but I'll keep it short here since I've already written a full review. I am so excited to see what happens in the next book!

The Phantom Tollbooth
Norton Juster 

The Phantom Tollbooth is like the OG favorite fantasy world for me. This was one of my favorite books I read in elementary school, and I still have so much love for it. My inner math nerd was living for the world ruled by numbers. This world is so whimsical and fun.

Jay Kristoff
Nevernight, #1

I know there have been mixed reviews for Nevernight, but my love for this book is unreal. This world is so cool! It's the most different fantasy world I've read as of late in terms of being different from our world. Check out my review for more thoughts!

Sarah Fine
Guards of the Shadowlands, #1

Sanctum is a book I read a long time ago, but I really loved this series. The series doesn't take place entirely in a fantasy world, but most of Sanctum takes place in the Shadowlands, which is the afterlife. I thought Sarah Fine's imagining of the afterlife was so wonderful, and the more she built on it through the series, it got even better! I never wrote a review for this book, but I do have a spoiler free review of the finale!

The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Rae Carson
Fire and Thorns, #1

The Girl of Fire and Thorns is one of the first fantasy books I read when I started becoming a reader and blogger (review here). This is one of those epic fantasy type of worlds, and I loved it. I connected with the main character because she really loves sweets.

Amrutha's Picks

Harry Potter 
J.K. Rowling

Who would I even be if I didn't put Harry Potter on here...I started reading HP when I was seven or eight and it was my actual introduction to fantasy. It's been over 10 years since I started the series and I can still almost verbatim recite a bunch of scenes.

Cornelia Funke
Inkworld, #1

Love this series!!! Inkheart was the first major fantasy series I read after Harry Potter, and just confirmed for me that fantasy is amazing. The book is about a girl named Meggie who's father can read characters from books to life. Her mother disappeared into the story of a book he read aloud years ago. You have to read the rest to find out what happens!

The Chronicles of Narnia
C.S. Lewis

We've all thought about Narnia and loved the The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe but there are 6 other books that go along after it!!!! Read them, travel to Narnia, live your best possible lives and scour every inch of these books because they are so, so good. I might actually reread them soon because they are so worth it.

Legacy of Kings
Eleanor Herman

Historical fiction with a bit of fantasy, but still a damn good book. I never actually reviewed this but our pal Marlon did here! Empire of Dust just came out recently and while I haven't had time to read it yet, I'm really excited about it. Also, Eleanor Herman is an absolute sweetheart.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Ransom Riggs

I'm really ashamed that it took me so long to read this book (I haven't actually finished the other books yet but our girl Noor loves this series, as you can see here). I'm also really excited about the movie!

What are your favorite fantasy worlds?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Review: The Smaller Evil - Stephanie Kuehn

The Smaller Evil
Stephanie Kuehn
Series: N/A
Genre: Mystery, Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Dutton Books
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Thanks to Dutton Books and First to Read for the eARC!

The Smaller Evil was definitely a strange book. Almost the entire time I was reading, I had no idea what was going on; but at the same time, I wanted to keep reading to try and figure it out. In the end, I ended up liking it a lot more than I expected to.

The book starts when Arman decides to go on a week long retreat to help cure his supposed "social sickness." In the middle of nowhere in the woods, attendees are expected to pay thousands of dollars to receive treatment, including activities called "Quarantine," "Vespers," and "Inoculation." If this doesn't scream cult, I don't know what does.

At first I was really annoyed by Arman's point of view - homeboy is always confused. He's got a whole slue of mental health problems going on (anxiety, self harm, possibly ADHD, and what seemed like disassociation), and he's really reliant on affirmation from other people, particularly Beau, the head of the camp. Reading from Arman's perspective made me very uneasy; his anxiety really showed through the writing. At the beginning, I really did not like that about he writing, but as I kept going, I realized how the voice was actually brilliant - Stephanie Kuehn makes the reader feel uneasy, anxious, and confused because Arman is all those things. It wasn't an empathetic feeling in relation to the character like reading other books; it was a feeling forced by the way it was written.

There were also moments in the book that were told from unknown perspectives. I enjoyed the shift to these because they were the parts that really gave the clues for understanding what was going to happen.

I wouldn't say this is a traditional mystery, but it definitely is one. And it is seriously thrilling near the end. This is through and through a psychological thriller - throwing your mind on an adventure of ups and downs. I'm no expert on this genre, but I feel like it was done really well - I never would have expected what was going on.

I've seen a lot of reviews were people didn't understand what happened at the end of the book. While I did understand the end of the mystery, I do feel like the ending was abrupt. I would have liked a little more resolution because where Arman ends up in the end is very vague.

Overall, The Smaller Evil was a strange book that I don't think everyone will enjoy. While Arman is a teenager, I don't feel like the story is really Young Adult. Yes, Arman has a bit of a coming of age story in this book, but it's way more complicated than that. If you're looking for something that will mess with your mind and make you question everything that also has culty vibes, this is definitely the book for you.

- Kiersten

Have you read any psychological thrillers?
Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Review: Boys of Summer - Jessica Brody

Boys of Summer
Jessica Brody
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

SIIIIIIGHHHHHHHHH. I tried so hard to like this book because I love easy summer reads and this seemed the type. Hell, summer is even in the name.

Before I delve into the bad, the good: this book was a really quick and easy read. It flowed in a way that only books about a short time span really can, so that was cool. I also liked the attempt at each character developing in their own right -- even the love interests & family members to an extent. This was a breezy book, I can say that much.

Alright alright alright, so the book is about boys during the summertime. So we have three main characters -- Ian. Grayson, and Mike. They all had pretty complex family situations so I did appreciate that. Background which is revealed in the first like, ten seconds of the book so it's not a spoiler I swear: Ian's dad just passed away (he was a soldier) & his mom began drinking because of it, Grayson's mom just left his family without a lot of warning, and his dad is keeping the whole thing under wraps, and Mike's dad just had an accident at work and is basically out of commission in terms of working/taking care of the kids for at least a few months, so money is tight. I liked the diversity of the family issues and I liked that they were all really prevalent in the book and actually make moves to being resolved.

The boys are in the summer before what would be their freshman year of college so you might be able to guess that their hormones are raging. These guys are bffs during the summers only I think, because Mike lives there full time but Ian and Grayson only come to visit. But anyway, one of these bffs date's the other one's sister and another one dates a different bff's ex, and the third one tries to date some random girl but struggles because he still has feelings for his aforementioned ex. Basically their love lives are a shit show, which to be real is what I expect from all breezy summer reads.

So the way this book was set up was alternating PoVs of Grayson, Ian, and Mike. They each had a girl problem they were handling poorly which they kept a secret from the others. They all had a family problem which they kept from the others. They all have like an internal struggle (whether it be a secret, life changing injury, suicidal thoughts, or the desire to run away) which they keep from one another. They're kind of douchy & secretive with one another all through out, which is questionable because I'm like......are you really friends......But anyway. The whole thing just seemed really really formulaic -- here are three secrets. Here are three girl problems. Here are three family issues. Lets combine them all and write them into three PoVs which sound literally the exact same.

My most prominent issue with the book is that it seemed like one voice was telling the whole story, when there were supposed to be three distinct voices. But on top of that, nothing interesting really happened -- literally from the first chapter or two I could tell you exactly how the book would end, with the exception of a couple minor details. It felt so formulaic and generic which I'm sad about because the actual tropes could've been really interesting if it was all resolved differently. Hint: it gets resolved, romantic issue one by one, friend issue one by one, internal struggle issue one by one, and finally family issue one by one. Maybe if it was mixed up a little and had a couple plot twists????

Honestly I don't know. The book was an easy read so I'm not too worked up about it, I just think Brody could do a lot better!! I'll def. look out for other books of hers so I can see if they're any different.

- Amrutha

Does your family have a summer vacation spot?
Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Stuffed Animal Saturday: Furthermore - Tahereh Mafi

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

This Saturday, me and Ralf are reading Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi!

So far: Ralf is really loving Furthermore so far! The way the story is written is really fun and whimsical - it's kind of reminiscent of The Phantom Tollbooth and Alice in Wonderland. Ralf loves how this kind of writing defies your expectation when it comes to a standard for the world or even a turn of phrase. It's very fun! Ralf also loves the whimsical chapter/section headings.

Sneak peek: Ralf thought the first page of Furthermore was particularly striking, so he insisted that be the sneak peek I included! (This is from the ARC, so it is subject to change in the finished copy.)
Once upon a time, a girl was born.     It was rather uneventful.     Her parents were happy enough, the mother glad to be done carrying it, and the father glad to be done with the mystery of it all. But then one day they realized that their baby, the one they'd named Alice, had no pigment at all. Her hair and skin were white as milk; her heart and soul as soft as silk. Her eyes alone had been spared a spot of color: only just clinging to the faintest shade of honey. It was the kind of child her world could not appreciate.     Ferenwood had been built on color. Bursts of it, swaths of it, depths and breadths of it. Its people were known to be the brightest - modeled after the planets, they'd said - and young Alice was deemed simply too dim, even though she knew she was not. Once upon a time, a girl was forgot.
We can't wait to see where this story goes!

- Kiersten

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

Friday, August 12, 2016

Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer - Michelle Hodkin

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Michelle Hodkin
Series: Mara Dyer, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

I'm not 100% sure how I feel about this book. I keep alternating between liking it and disliking it -- there were some parts that worked for me and some that didn't (like any book) but it feels so heavily split between the work/didn't work sides that my feelings are super mixed.

One of the things I found kinda not-so-great was the writing. At first I didn't really notice anything about the style -- it wasn't too detail-oriented but I liked Mara's narration and viewing the story through her lens, especially all the ends of the flashbacks and the hallucinations. Except at some point I was FaceTiming with my friend and jokingly reading a passage aloud and I realized the writing sounded super awkward when I read it aloud. That's not generally a basis for judging books for me, but I paid closer attention to the words and a lot of it felt like forced or awkward writing. The dialogue was the weirdest. It often didn't sound natural. I remember one scene where Mara is waiting for her brother and says "You've got some 'splaining to do" when she sees him and I think I genuinely cringed at how awkward and uncomfortable that piece of dialogue was.

Putting aside the parts that clearly read weird though, I definitely didn't go through the whole book thinking "wow this is written so terribly when will it end" so if you find the story interesting don't let the writing deter you, it isn't a major negative factor or anything, just something I wanted to mention. The story itself focuses on Mara Dyer, who moves away after her three friends die in a terrible accident she survives but has no memory of and ends up suffering from severe PTSD as a result.

Something I liked was that Mara wasn't a totally reliable narrator. Her hallucinations influenced a lot of what she experienced and every time I was introduced to a character I watched to see if they would interact with anyone other than her because I kept expecting the "they're actually a hallucination" trick. However, other than her severe mental instability, I felt that Mara wasn't developed enough as a character. I felt like I had no idea what her personality was beyond "always worried her mom would be on her case." Some of the other characters were more developed, like her entire family, her friend Jamie (who was so cool but for some reason Hodkin decided to cut away his page time after a certain point) and even Noah, the Love Interest.

Speaking of Noah, the love angle of the story is really the biggest negative for me. This book could have been so cool. Mara could have explored so much of what made her different and how it worked and why it was happening. And YET. The entire book was focused on this Bad Boy rescuing her from the confines of private school and it was all about the exploration of their love and I am 10000% here for cutesy love stories and romance books and love plots but like there was such potential for an exciting terrifying killer paranormal plot and it just got shoved to the side for pages of them riding in his car and her refusing to kiss him because it's gross. Yes, I do realize there are two more books and the weird stuff will probably be explored more there but 1. in this book, it felt tacked on at the end, like an afterthought 2. I wish it was built up more in this book so I knew a little more about what I was going into in the next book. I feel like I could have read the first 20 pages and the last 20 pages and been okay for the sequel honestly because everything that happened in the middle was just...for funsies.

The only reason I feel mixed is because the concept is interesting and the ending left off on such a cliffhanger that I want to see how this series continues. I feel like it deserves credit for making me want to know how the paranormal aspects work without just looking them up online. I probably will read the next two books sometime but I'll probably take them out from the library or something because I'm not invested enough to pay for them. Overall, I wish it had more creepiness and less sappiness but it still seems like it could be a promising series.

- Noor

Have you read any good paranormal books lately?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Review: Nevernight - Jay Kristoff

Jay Kristoff
Series: The Nevernight Chronicle, #1
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Thanks to Thomas Dunne Books for the eARC I received via NetGalley!

After reading and absolutely loving Illuminae and Gemina, I was really excited to get approved for Nevernight. Jay Kristoff, once again, did not disappoint with this one!

Nevernight follows Mia Corvere, an orphan who wants nothing more than to avenge her family's murder. The book begins as Mia sets off for the Red Church, a school of assassins, in hopes to become a Blade of the Lady of Blessed Murder. While the acolytes navigate the brutal lessons in swordplay, poisons, seduction, and theft, someone in the Church is murdering the acolytes.

I really loved the world that Jay Kristoff built in Nevernight. The title comes from the fact that this world has three suns and almost no night time as we know it - all three suns only set about every three years. It was so interesting to read about a world like this, seeing how it changed the dynamic of the world and even the terminology. The suns are also deeply rooted in the religion of this world, and I really enjoyed how detailed all the myths were in the book. Hearing the myths in Nevernight was reminiscent of how I feel reading Greek mythology tidbits in Percy Jackson books - it felt like such a real thing that a society could be built around, especially with the main god feeling so threatened by having sons.

In terms of the style of Nevernight, it definitely gave me some Game of Thrones vibes (I've only watched the show, so I can't speak to the actual writing of the ASOIAF series). When I started reading Nevernight, I couldn't help but have Arya Stark feels towards Mia - a young girl navigating a city on her own, learning to be brutal every step of the way. Of course the story itself is completely different, but I think that it would appeal to a similar audience.

I've seen some people saying they felt like the writing of Nevernight was dense, but I really enjoyed the writing style. It had such a fantasy feeling, and I particularly loved the voice of the footnotes. The voice of the footnotes reminded me of the introduction to the Haunted Mansion ride at Disney - you're in a room filled with pleasant portraits, and as the room descends, the portraits extend into macabre portraits of death with this creepy foreboding voice signaling your doom. The other thing I really enjoyed about the footnotes was the way it made the book feel like the chronicling of a legend rather than a novel; as if Mia's adventures were so noteworthy to be worth eternalizing in print - and this was only the beginning.

As for Mia, I absolutely LOVED her! Mia is fierce, snarky, cunning, and calculating, but she is also compassionate, kind, and fiercely loyal. While this book is about Mia training to be a deadly assassin, Mia is still a damaged and unsure young woman. Mia struggles with her feelings towards other people, trying to remain brutal and ruthless even though maybe she isn't those things. With a sidekick called Mister Kindly, there's just something so charming about Mia. Finally there is a rival with Celaena Sardothien for my favorite assassin.

There has been some debate about whether or not this book is YA, so I figured I'd put my two cents in on the subject. The main character of the book is technically a young adult - Mia is 16-years-old. There is a lot of mature content in this book, which is why many people feel like it is more of an adult novel; however, I feel like there's a certain coming of age story built into this that could be meaningful for a young adult audience. I would say, in general, that if you feel comfortable watching Game of Thrones (or you feel comfortable letting your child watch Game of Thrones for parents), then this book will be ok for you in terms of content.

Honestly, I can't even believe Nevernight - it was SO GOOD! I'm so excited to see where this series goes and to read even more from Mr. Kristoff. I highly recommend this new series to all fantasy fans - especially fans of Throne of Glass, Game of Thrones, and A Girl of Fire and Thorns!

I seriously need to check out The Lotus War series now. I NEED MORE JAY KRISTOFF BOOKS IN MY LIFE.

Also, some shameless self promotion of my Nevernight bookstagram picture:

- Kiersten

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

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Blogger Interview with Chayse from The Book Reaper (SBPT)

This summer, We Live and Breathe Books (Kiersten in particular) is participating in the Summer Blog Promo Tour hosted by The Book Bratz! That means, every Sunday in July and August, we'll be hosting a different blogger to spread the love.

This week, Chayse from The Book Reaper is here for a blogger interview. Read on to find out more about him, his blog, and his favorite books!

Interview with Chayse

Let’s start by introducing yourself and your blog!

My name is Chayse and I blog over at The Book Reaper. I am currently in grad school working towards my Masters in Library and Information Scientist, where one day I hope to become a youth librarian. When I am not reading I love to swim, play volleyball, walk the aisles in Target, and watch movies.

How long have you been blogging? What made you want to start?

I started blogging about 5 yrs ago. I was a part of my local library’s book club when someone came and talked about her blog and what she did. I became interested and contacted her and from there my blogging life took off.

What’s your favorite thing about blogging?

My favorite thing is being able to connect with so many people and also read books I may have never walked into a bookstore to pick up on my own.

Is there a specific book/series that was your gateway to being a reader?

As cheesy as this sounds...Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

What’s your favorite genre to read?


If you could live in any book world, which would it be?

Harry Potter

What characters would you want in your squad?

Hermione Granger, Feyre, Aiden

What are some books you highly recommend?

Zenith, The Mirror King, All American Boys, the list can go on and on...

What upcoming releases are you most looking forward to?

A Torch Against the Night, The Sun is Also a Star, Furthermore,

Where can you be found on social media?

Twitter: @ChayseTBR

Thanks to Chayse for being here today! This is our last SBPT post on WLABB (before the wrap up). I hope you've all enjoyed these feature posts!

- Kiersten

Friday, August 5, 2016

Double Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
Series: Harry Potter
Genre: Fantasy, Play
Publisher: Little Brown UK
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Can I just start out by saying that throughout the entirety of the promotion of this book, and the cover unveiling, and everything that I thought the cover was a snitch on fire until I actually physically held my copy in my hands and realized it was not, in fact, burning and that there is a CHILD in there. Moving on.

I have such mixed feelings about this script book, I don't even really know what to give it in terms of a number rating? I didn't even bother rating it on Goodreads, I just marked it as read, which is when you know a book has shaken you up.

I started off with zero expectations because I'd heard it was going to be a trainwreck so I was pretty chill about accepting what the book threw at me -- I figured it would be at best a pleasantly surprising read and at worst something amusing to joke about. And even though the book was pretty wild, I wouldn't consider it a trainwreck, so I was at least a little pleasantly surprised (but still found plenty to side-eye).

Cursed Child was definitely entertaining. It was super fun to read and the script format and the short length made it fly by in like an hour but if it was boring it would have definitely taken me forever to get through it. I was always intrigued and even when things got a little ridiculous, I still wanted to know what happened. Also, I feel like the craziness of the plot could work well on stage because stage productions seem to always have wilder plots than just regular novels. I really want to see how they pull off all the staging, especially in regards to them doing magic or transfiguring.

Even though the book was entertaining, it was still a little weird to digest. All the recurring characters from the original Harry Potter books seemed weirdly out of character and it was hard for me to picture them acting the way they did and saying the things they said. I realize that J.K. Rowling didn't write the script and that probably played a big hand in why they were out of character but it was weird to read the characters I grew up with acting so unlike I was used to.

There were also a few things that were hard to believe (and it wasn't the crazy plot, to be honest, just the nuances thereof) that I won't get into because this is a spoiler-free review and they're specific grievances, but it made me very eyes emoji about the whole thing. Like I don't mean hard to believe as in "wow I can't believe those two characters drove to school in a flying car that would never happen in real life!!" but just in a way that even though the book was telling me these things were the truth, I could not accept them as the truth. I desired -- I required -- an alternate explanation. And even though I said the plot was fun and entertaining, it had issues too and some of the events of the book were worth many eyes-emojis and raised eyebrows.

Honestly, I'm not sure what my overall opinion is. I loved some things like Scorpius and everything about him and his friendship with Albus (who frankly made a LOT of stupid decisions and was being QUITE annoying) but personally, even though it's marketed as "the eighth story," I can't in good conscience consider this canon. Like, I accept some parts of it but for me this is just a fun story that I'm deciding not to take too seriously.

End note: I think the real problem is that it isn't a musical. If it was a musical it'd be 10 stars.

- Noor

Amrutha's review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

I want to preface this by saying: I grew up with Harry Potter, as did Noor and everyone else who will probably read this. Over the last several years that HP has had no new releases, I've been to Harry Potter World, beta read fanfic, reread the books and movies to the point of memorization -- and I'm sure a lot of HP fans on the internet can say the same. I know that TCC is not "the next book" and in not seeing the play, I've missed some stylistic elements that would've worked seeing it in production but didn't work written down. However, I've read a lot of plays and a lot of Harry Potter fanfiction, and I just don't think this worked for me all around.

Like Noor said, this book was entertaining. Going into it I didn't expect much, so reading anything from an author that shaped my childhood (I know she didn't write this book, but if you look at the cover it says "based on a new original story by J.K. Rowling" which I take to mean she had a hand in the plot). I understand that John Tiffany & Jack Thorne are not J.K. Rowling and therefore some of the dialogue would read out of character 1) because they're different writers and 2) because the trio is literally 19 years older and have children and whatnot. But regardless, reading this with the slightest feeling that at the end it could be accepted as canon was amazing. It made me feel so warm and happy and I finished the script in a couple of hours, because I couldn't wait to get to the end. As far as a story based on HP, I liked it.

But to me, that's all it was. This script reads like fanfiction -- there are plot holes galore and honestly some of the jumps they made just don't seem reasonable to me. Because this is a double review and Noor has said a lot of the things I feel about this, I'm going to do spoilers because I REALLY NEED TO DISCUSS MY FEELINGS. Inserted below will be both direct quotes from the book & discussions of plot points, so go forward at your own risk.

I'll end the spoiler free review here: I love Harry Potter. I don't love this script -- it was fun and mildly amusing for the time I was reading it, and if the play is ever around I will pay to go see it, but I do not accept this as canon.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Review: Seven Ways We Lie - Riley Redgate

Seven Ways We Lie
Riley Redgate
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Amulet Books
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

For the longest time I couldn't figure out how I felt about this. I thought the concept sounded so cool so I actually bought it from Barnes & Noble instead of just sitting in the store and reading it in a few hours sitting and putting it back on the shelf.

So this book has 7 main characters/7 PoVs as you might be able to guess from the title. These characters are: Olivia, Kat, Matt, Juniper, Valentine, and Claire. They all have the stereotypes that follow them, whether it be the slut or the perfect one or the weird one. It all ended up feeling very classic high school. This is the blurb:

Seven students. Seven (deadly) sins. One secret.

Paloma High School is ordinary by anyone’s standards. It’s got the same cliques, the same prejudices, the same suspect cafeteria food. And like every high school, every student has something to hide—from Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues onstage, to Valentine, the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal.

When that scandal bubbles over, and rumors of a teacher-student affair surface, everyone starts hunting for someone to blame. For the seven unlikely allies at the heart of it all, the collision of their seven ordinary-seeming lives results in extraordinary change.

Doesn't this sound like the wildest ride???? It's so ambiguous and appealing that even when I was 3/4 of the way through the book I thought something crazy would happen. But it played out like basically the same way that all books about high school do. 

The /main/ plot of the teacher-student affair really drives the story -- there's a little romance and family struggles and stuff on the side, but mostly it's about this. You can probably guess from the first few chapters who was involved. But the affair was probably the worst written part of the novel.  It felt really reminiscent (I hate to make this reference) of Aria & Ezra from PLL, meaning, it felt so much like a trope. However, it's a trope that I like to see hashed out and I think this book did a good job of that.

I did enjoy some of the subplots -- Olivia & Kat's family issues and Lucas' identity crisis were at the top of that list. I really did enjoy the way Claire's character was played out -- she's an unlikeable character who's mostly just used to move the plot along by constantly comparing herself to others, but she was good in a way that I think really showed jealousy. I think envy is something that is usually not vocalized but Claire was written in a way that showed how ugly envy can really be. A lot of the reviews I read said Claire was one of the worst characters but I don't know, I liked having an unsympathetic character. 

This book has a good deal of ~sensitive topics~ discussed -- I'm really hyped that sexuality is discussed candidly (cough cough they actually talk about pansexuality which never happens) (sidenote I noticed this when reading the book but I wouldn't have put it in the review if I hadn't seen another person mention it while scrolling through goodreads so credits to that person). The issues between Kat and Olivia, the issues of slut shaming and drugs and being the outsider and sleeping with the teacher -- I liked that all of these things came up and none were ignored or kind of shoved to the side as not that destructive. 

All in all I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book -- I want so much to say I really enjoyed it because the topics discussed were interesting and each character definitely had a unique voice, but I think the nature of most of plot points to be kind of unoriginal was a turn off for me. I also think that 7 PoVs were kind of choppy for this kind of story. SIGH I don't know I've changed the number of stars this book gets like at least three times throughout the story. Read it yourselves and let me know how you feel!
- Amrutha

What books with a lot of PoVs do you like?
Let us know in the comments!