Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Review: Treasure Hunters - James Patterson

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Treasure Hunters
James Patterson
Series: Treasure Hunters #1
Genre: Adventure, Children, Humor
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Exciting
On Goodreads

Okay finally. A+ James, A+ for bringing me back to a good book. I actually recieved this at BEA 2013 and never managed to read it. My cousin picked the book up and couldn't put it down and so . . . after reading such books as Claire de Lune . . . . (detailed description of my hatred at goodreads, here).

First off, this book is just plain funny. And it's a children's book. Did I mention that I like those? No dirty jokes would be spared within these pages, no clever witty puns. Just straight up humor. And Patterson does it best when he makes fun of his own craft and characters.
'I'm twelve. I don't have a mustache or eyepatch. Don't believe everything you see.' (Introduction)
He even pokes fun at simple things that are hardly funny but you can't help but smile because you've always thought about it. Like, narrators that die, who are still able to tell their story.
'Whoa not so fast . . . If I were dead, how could I be telling you this story?' (On the first page, my lads)
I think the best parts were Beck's drawings. I can't post them for you but she makes fun of her brother all the time and writes 'yikes' at storms and ugh she's just so cute I wish she was my little sister.

Also seriously:
'One, it wasn't Spanish. Two, it wasn't treasure.' (137)
Just. Yes.

And that leads me to my next love of this book. You just love the characters. Maybe I'm just sort of high from a bad succession of terrible books but holy crap I loved everyone in this novel. No one pissed me off from being too exaggerated or too two dimensional. Everyone did what they were supposed to (or went out fighting). The sleazy treasure hunters were sleazy as hell, the CIA were cold and ruthless. The kids were clever, resourceful, witty, and enjoyable as they fought for their parents and their treasure. And I just learned the release date for the second novel. Win.

There's pirates, hidden treasure, lots of bad guys, a missing mom and a possibly dead Dad. The four kids are bickering half the time, trying to cleverly deduce their way out of traps the other half of the time.

There's also a bit of a potteresque (I don't mean to say that the kids are orphans even though by the beginning of the book they're left pretty much orphans) feeling with that heartwarming and adventure around the corner atmosphere.

I really don't know what else to say. I can't find much that is bad about the book. Obviously there are halting moments in the plot and a bit of character development that never happens for one character in particular (you'll see what I mean), I'm judging it as a children's book and as a children's book, it made my cousin go bonkers and want to be a pirate and if that doesn't deserve five stars then I don't know what does.

- Marlon

What would you put in a treasure chest?
Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Best of 2013

As 2013 comes to an end, we decided to reminisce on our favorite releases this year. There have been so many great books, whether they were anticipated sequels, series endings, or new series beginnings. To celebrate these loved releases, we've decided to share our best of 2013 picks with you!
Kiersten's Picks

Clockwork Princess
Cassandra Clare
The Infernal Devices, #3

Clockwork Princess was probably my favorite book this year. I absolutely love the Infernal Devices trilogy and I was anxious to see how everything turned out. I felt so much reading this book. SO MUCH. It is a crime that it did not win best young adult fantasy in the Goodreads Choice Awards.

Gennifer Albin
Crewel World, #2

After reading and falling in love with the world of Crewel (review) I was happy to dive right into more of that world with Altered. This was a great sequel, showing even more of the corruption involved in this world. I'm a huge fan of this series and I can't wait for Crewelest.

Palace of Spies
Sarah Zettel
Palace of Spies, #1

If you read my review of Palace of Spies you know how much I loved this book. This was my first Netgalley read and I'm really happy I discovered this title through them. Looking forward to reading more from Sarah Zettel.


The Deepest Night
Shana Abé
The Sweetest Dark, #2

The Sweetest Dark (review) was the first advanced reader's edition I've ever received (won through Goodreads First Reads) and it was one of the first reviews ever posted on here. I also posted a review of The Deepest Night on here as well. If you've yet to read this series, you should get on that.

Fractured
Sarah Fine
Guards of the Shadowlands, #2

I have to say that I regret waiting so long to read Fractured after it's release. Great follow up to Sanctum! Lela is a character that I empathize with more than most other characters I read and it makes me feel all the feels. I'll be posting a review for this sometime in January.


There were so many great 2013 releases I read this year and I just can't help but add a few more Honorable Mentions! There was Branded (Sinners, #1) by Missy Kalicicki and Abi Ketner (review), which was one of the most emotional books I've ever read; Prodigy (Legend, #2) by Marie Lu, which reminds me that I've yet to read Champion for some reason; Impostor (Slide, #2) by Jill Hathaway; and Zoo (Enclosure Chronicles, #1) by Tara Elizabeth (review).
Noor's Picks


As you may or may not know, Neil Gaiman is my favorite author so naturally, I had to purchase and devour this book the very second it was released. This was the very first book I reviewed so if you want to know why exactly it made the list, go check out the review!


Eleanor & Park
Rainbow Rowe

I just read this book recently on my book and am planning to review it next week, and I think it's absolutely wonderful and a very heartwarming tale from an up and coming author.




Allegiant
Veronica Roth
Divergent, #3

I know this book got a lot of mixed reviews and it was either love or hate, but I am one of the people who enjoyed it (review) and I think the response it received just goes to show how influential it was and that's why it makes my list.


Fortunately, the Milk
Neil Gaiman

Oh look, another Neil Gaiman book. Well, I did mention how much I love him and even though this is a children's book, it's so well done I find myself rereading it all the time. Check out my review!



Marlon's Picks

The House of Hades
Rick Riordan
The Heroes of Olympus, #4

This book just shot me in the heart and didn’t care about picking up the pieces it just — ugh. I have a lot of feels. This book resolved countless plotlines from the earlier books and established each of the seven characters’ maturation. Literally the perfect set up for the final book. (live-blogging)

The Fall of Five
Pittacus Lore
Lorien Legacies, #4

Ugh I hate James Frey but his novels are so beautiful.  I’ve officially fallen in love with the I Am Number Four series, there’s just something about aliens fighting aliens for the lives of aliens and humans and oh god the romance and oh god the betrayal and death and horror it’s so perfect. (review)

Fortunately, the Milk
Neil Gaiman

Prepare to have a couple of repeats because I also like Neil Gaiman. Fortunately, the Milk is just such an incredibly woven childrens book (and those as you should know, are my favorite) that speaks to kids in ways that I really don’t even fully understand yet. It’s everything you need to tuck a kid in.



Ugh. Just. Ugh. Seriously. This piece is half memoir, half fantasy, half I don’t understand how there are three halves to this book but Neil Gaiman makes it seem that way, it’s full of everything you want in a sort-of coming of age novel and sort of learning about life through a million eyes at a time book.


Clockwork Princess
Cassandra Clare
The Infernal Devices, #3

Everyone should favorite this. This is how one ends a series of romance/adventure/supernatural novels. This is how. Take note. I’m still not over Will. Or Jem. Magnus Bane everyone, Magnus Fraking Bane. There’s too much to say here. This is one of the best romance novels I’ve ever read.

Amrutha's Picks


This was that one impulsive supermarket buy of the year that turned out to be oh so scrumptiously worth it. This is the only book I’ve reviewed that I’ve given a 5/5 star rating, because it is that perfect. Go check out the review and definitely read the book!


Unbound
Georgia Bell
All Good Things, #1

When I began the ebook for this, I wasn’t expecting much, especially because I am not the usual paranormal fan. This book far surpassed my expectations and is definitely one of the best books of 2013. (review)


Delirium
Susan Kaye Quinn
Debt Collector, #1

This is actually just a short piece, the first in a series of 9. It is honestly beautifully written, and the idea of the story is literally one of the most creative I have read this year. Kiersten and I did a mini-review on it this year, so definitely check it out!

The Storyteller
Jodi Picoult

Just as Noor loves Neil Gaiman, I love Jodi Picoult. I read all her books as they come out, and they never ever disappoint. Get on this book and every other book by her as soon as possible if you have been deprived of her amazing-ness thus far in your life.


What are some of your 2013 favorites?
Let us know in the comments!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Review: Partials - Dan Wells

Partials
Dan Wells
Series: Partials Sequence, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Refreshing
On Goodreads

I discovered Partials by complete accident. After purchasing some other book on my Nook, there were a few suggestions in the side that I was about to ignore, until I accidentally hit something I didn't mean to and ended up on the purchase page for Partials. After reading the description of the book, I wanted to read it so badly I downloaded it onto my Nook and started reading it before the book I initially purchased. And then the next day I bought a physical copy and finished reading it that way.

Anyway, this book totally and completely lived up to my expectations of it. I was promised a book about a dystopian, war-torn society in which humans are barely existent, and "Partials," which are "engineered organic beings identical to humans" are at war with the few that remain. A virus is killing off all humans not immune to it, and none of the babies in over ten years have been born immune, which means humans will die off if no one is there to carry on the lines. The book centers around Kira, a sixteen year old who gets right in the middle of the action. It seems like a lot for one book, but Dan Wells delivers it wonderfully.

My favorite thing about this book is that it succeeded in being different. When it comes to the books about futuristic, war-torn societies, or books about cyborgs and robots versus humans, or dystopian fiction in general, it's very easy to write a book that is similar to all the rest, that doesn't stand above anything and contains the same recycled plot over and over again. While the book's premise seemed interesting enough, I was skeptical as to how well it would be delivered. Having read it, I can say without a doubt that it succeeds in standing out. Dan Wells wrote a book that was refreshing in a genre full of the same old stuff. The characters were likable and easy to get invested in, the plot moved along very smoothly, and there were revelations and plot elements that kept me on my toes. There was only one plot point that I thought was obvious from the beginning and even though I had figured it out, there were still chills sent down my spine as I read it happen. Even though I had a guess of what was to come, I still was affected by it as if I had never even had the thought, because of how well it was written.

Overall, I thought this book did an amazing job of providing a fresh new story. I also really loved the way the characters were all three dimensional. I loved Kira and Samm and all the other characters, and the story itself, and I commend Dan Wells for a novel well written. I own the second book in the series and intend on reading it as soon as possible, hopefully over winter break.

- Noor

What do you look for in a dystopian novel?
Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Review: Pretenders - Lisi Harrison

Pretenders
Lisi Harrison
Series: Pretenders, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Half a book
On Goodreads

I got Pretenders on Netgalley, having found out about it through an email. The concept intrigued me – the secret journals of five students were leaked, the book being a compilation of those journals. At Noble High School, all the freshmen were required to fill a journal of 250 pages for their English classes. The five journals included in the book come from the Phoenix Five – the five “most outstanding” freshmen, as elected by the school. I suppose at this point I should have figured out that Pretenders wasn’t going to cover the entire year, but foolishly I let myself believe that I would find out the fates of these characters. Imagine my surprise when the end of the book came just as everything was beginning to get interesting. Craziness starts happening and then there’s a page like, “Oh, you want to know what happens? TOO BAD BECAUSE THIS IS THE END OF THE BOOK. SEE YOU NEXT TIME.” Not cool. None of the characters have a full arc, there is no climax, and there is no resolution. Pretenders is half a book. Plain and simple.

Now that I have somewhat vented my frustration regarding the lack of whole book-ness, onto some analysis of the book.

The book follows five fairly clichéd character types: Sheridan the ditsy blonde, Duffy the jock, Jagger the mysterious bad boy, Lily the weirdo, and Vanessa the nerd. Despite how easy it is to pick out these archetypes, I found these characters rather charming. There was nothing especially deep about them, but they had charisma. There was something about them that kept me interested in their story – something relatable, I suppose. Between all the characters, Lisi Harrison was able to cover many challenges that a freshman in high school may be facing, so that was a plus. They were nothing to rave about, but I don’t really have anything terrible to say about them either.

While looking through some other reviews of Pretenders I read one that complained of how not all the characters had equal story time, how it seemed as though the author cared more about one character’s story than another. However, I believe that the journal entries were distributed differently to add to the characters. For example, Sheridan tried out for the school musical, struggled with making new friends, and had to deal with her best friend drifting away. She had so much going on and a lot to say about it. On the other hand, Jagger is a mystery – he is hiding something. If he had an equal amount of journal entries as Sheridan, I’m not even sure what he’d say. His journals were minimalistic, just touching on what was happening in his life, and anything more would ruin his mysterious nature.

Although I was frustrated with the cliffhanger ending, I’d still say that I found Pretenders to be a fairly enjoyable book. Yes, a lot of the book is exposition, but it was like getting to know real people and seeing what they’re like. Yes, sometimes the characters were annoying, but I was able to have sympathy for them at times. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being mad about the end of this book, but I’m actually looking forward to the next book, License to Spill, and to how the stories of these characters unfold.

- Kiersten

What do you think about books without a full plot line? Is it acceptable in a series?
Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Review: Unbound - Georgia Bell

Unbound
Georgia Bell
Series: All Good Things, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: *Slow Clap*
On Goodreads

I'M CRYING. This was so phenomenal, literally stop whatever you're doing right now and get to this book.

This book is about a young girl named Rachel after her father dies - seems normal enough right? Not at all. Rachel is impossibly scared,but not to worry - she has a guardian angel. The hunky, kind, and oh so mysteriously damaged Eaden.

Eaden, who is immortal, has only one chance to finally die, a chance which can only be given to him by Rachel. However, he soon finds that after meeting Rachel, he doesn't want to die.

Enter a whirlwind romance.

Although I usually feel that whirlwind romances are rushed and never written well, I loved this one. Georgia Bell wrote about two insanely poignant characters that transformed into strong, confident people. The personal growth shown by Rachel and Eaden was tremendous and honestly really inspiring. It's so rare that characters are shown to grow as people in such a short period of time. Bell is a really great author, and I can't wait to see what comes next from her.

The reason this book didn't get 5/5 stars was because there were a few slow parts and one part of the book that seemed a tad unnecessary; however, this book was honestly one of the best I've read in 2013.

The romance between Rachel and Eaden is sparkling, and I ship it ultra hard. Go Raden? Eadchel? I'm still working on their amalgamation.

Enough about their romance. The idea of the book is one of the most creative paranormal ones I've read: I'm not usually a huge fan of this kind of literature, but Bell took my breath away with Rachel's power and her 1500 year old immortal guardian and even the internal power politics of the immortals. Even though this sounds a bit Twilight, I promise this is x19337282 better than that. This book is filled with plot twists and turns that I just cannot bear to give away.

CHRISTMAS EVE WORD OF ADVICE: DROP EVERYTHING. READ THIS. GO. YOU WILL BE GRATEFUL OK I PROMISE. WE CAN AWAIT THE RELEASE OF THE NEXT ONE.

Also, happy holidays guys♥

- Amrutha

How do you feel about whirlwind romances?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Review: Dream Girl - S.J. Lomas

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Dream Girl
S.J. Lomas
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: No.
On Goodreads

I'm giving two stars for what I've read so far (around a hundred, hundred-fifty pages), but I'm sorry. I can't anymore. I can't finish this nonsense.

This book has secret agents, a boy that has a bad reputation, and for goodness sake, dream travel. How do you go wrong with that?

When Gabriel and Christine meet, they simply fall into each other's 'electrifying' eyes. That's it. No development. What the hell is with Romance these days thinking that love at first sight happens so freaking often? I understand if they found each other attractive but Christine acts like this is Prince Charming + Flynn Rider without knowing him . . . I just can't. Furthermore, she dumps her friends that she's known since forever for this guy she's just met and SOMEONE PLEASE TELL THE ROMANCE INDUSTRY THAT THIS ISN'T INDICATIVE OF A HAPPY OR HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP IT'S ACTUALLY JUST INSANE. Putting aside the endless list of other illogical things she does, of course.

Like, Jace and Clary from TMI have a fantastic instant connection, that actually is relevant to the plot overall and has ties to not only their character development, but pretty much everyone in the main cast. Alec opens himself up, Simon goes through just about every character phase ever, etc. That's a sensible insta-love. This is not.

I won't bother you with quotes from the book, as the writing itself is mildly irritating. Especially the narration . . . there was hardly a distinction between Gabriel and Christine's points of view. While I understand that there are effeminate males, myself being one, Gabriel doesn't come off as that . . . he's basically a girl with lots of muscles but Christine thinks he's adherent to a few boy stereotypes. Did the author consult any guys before writing in this perspective? It furthermore makes him unrelateable (not that Christine is any better what with acting like she's a more selfish and far older version of Bella). He's a bloody librarian, he has to be at least bookish, or strange or something, don't fit characters into social conventions that you don't understand dammit.

I can't even with the plot . . . halfway through and I literally had no idea what was going on. They'd gone into the woods, he wrote her letters about his dreams (after seeing her once) and worked up the courage to just ask her to read them (little bitch) and then some random bs: a top secret government agency gets involved and at that point, the plot just fell apart and I gave up.

- Marlon

What kind of weird dreams have you had lately?
Let us know in the comments!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Review: Beatrice and Virgil - Yann Martel

Beatrice and Virgil
Yann Martel
Series: N/A
Genre: Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Mind-blowing
On Goodreads

Everyone needs to read this book. Everyone. Now. Right now. In the name of all that is good, read this book. Please.

So, like many people, I had no idea who Yann Martel was until Life of Pi started gaining popularity. And so I read Life of Pi, and I loved it, and the day I finished it, I was telling a friend how much I loved it. And so she told me she's loved Yann Martel for quite a while and told me to read Beatrice and Virgil. So, I took her suggestion, and on my eight hour car ride to Canada, read this book.

And boy, am I glad I did.

Beatrice and Virgil essentially stabbed me straight in the heart. And it did it in a very unique way. I didn't get stabbed with the love of my favorite pairing or with the internal struggle of the protagonist trying to climb his own personal Everest. I got hit with beautiful writing and characters who were strange and just gave off an ominous vibe.

The whole book, from start to finish, felt extremely eerie. That's honestly the best way I can put it. As I was reading, I just kept feeling like there was something creeping along my spine, like something dangerous was about to happen. And that feeling made for an excellent novel and chilled me to the bone.

The book involved a taxidermist, an author named Henry, and a story within a story. Everything is artfully done and so beautifully written, I could not put this book down and finished it extremely quickly. I usually can't read for too long in cars, because I get queasy, but I didn't let this book go until the last page had been turned and I was staring at the back cover in awe.

Yann Martel is such a good author and he did a fantastic job with this book and I just want to shout from the rooftops that everyone should read this. I will say that you either love it or hate it, and that all depends on how you perceive and understand it, especially the ending. I think it's one of the best pieces of fiction I have read and I definitely recommend it to everyone.

- Noor

What are some of your favorite road-trip reads?
Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Review: Dangerous Dream - Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Dangerous Dream
Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Series: Dangerous Creatures, #0.5
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: SQUEEEEEEE
Goodreads | Amazon

So Dangerous Dream.

To give some background, I actually “SQUEEEEEE”-ed when I found out there was going to be a spin-off to the Beautiful Creatures series. In my dorm room. And then I ran around my room. Then I ran up and down the hall, knocking on doors to find someone who had read the Beautiful Creatures series and could celebrate with me (no one had read it). Basically, I fangirled so hard it hurt and no one understood what was going on. All I wanted to do was squeal with joy and die in a corner because of the wait.

Anyway, it is an understatement to say I was excited for even this novella. Not only was I going to get more of the magical Caster world created by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, but I was also going to get more of my ultimate OTP in the series – Link and Ridley. (SQUEEEE).

The novella is broken up into three parts with three narrators: the first section is first person Ethan; the second, third person Link; the third, third person Ridley. It was great getting some more of that Ethan Wate charm I had so missed since finishing the series, but being able to experience Link and Ridley was even better. In the Beautiful Creatures series there was not enough Linkley, but in Dangerous Dream we got a better understanding of their odd relationship.

Dangerous Dream is by no means substantial – I mean, it is a novella – but it perfectly sets up the scene for Dangerous Creatures (SQUEEEEE). As short as it was, I could not put it down and it definitely left me craving more. I hadn’t realized exactly how much I missed the world Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl created until I was right back in the Caster world as thought no time had passed.

Overall, Dangerous Dream was perfect. It stayed true to the characters and the world I grew to love in the Beautiful Creatures series and it left me dying to see how the story will play out in Dangerous Creatures. I highly recommend this novella for Beautiful Creatures fans – Dangerous Creatures is sure to be a great spin-off.

- Kiersten

What's your opinion on series spin-offs?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Release Day Review: Erasing: Shadows - K.D. Rose

18405421Erasing: Shadows
K.D. Rose
Series: The Erasing Series #1
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Half n' Half
On Goodreads

About the book:

What if to save the ones you love, you had to unlock the key to a different reality?

Generations of mystery smash together when a seemingly traditional family must shatter their illusions of normality to confront themselves and their friends, leaving no possibility unexplored in order to rescue- well, who exactly? Watch the Ross family, the High Five Gang, and multiple generations dig into an innovative explosion of imagination where they must confront numerous realities, real-world danger, and worst of all—their own teenage hormones!

In a place where nothing is as it seems and shocks are around every corner, even the people you thought you knew may find themselves strangers in this moving and provocative reality-bender. With breathless pacing and psychological intrigue, Erasing: Shadows and the High Five Gang will keep you guessing until the very end.


Review:

This book was generally cool. It stays (mostly) true to the section above. A myriad of worlds have collided and this book does a decent job of sorting everything out. And yeah, there's plenty of teenage hormones to go around. It has its ups and downs and could definitely be four stars with a bit of polishing and a teensy bit of downsizing and paying a lot more attention to some kind of 'main' cast and their development throughout.

The best:

It's hard to consider the best of this book because I automatically think of the worst. And generally, Shadows is just all over the place in terms of good and bad. Some parts I'm so sucked into the universe(s) and the situations and especially the description (I'm always a sucker for poets who incorporate their styles in prose). But in other parts, I just find myself generally confused as to what the hell has happened.

With that said:
'Mira felt a tug as she watched the last ankle go, the left shoe still limp in her hand. A bloodcurdling scream rent the air.
It came from her.'
Is pretty good pacing and breaking. Nearly without fault, Rose executes a great balance between these two. Her paragraphs are easy to follow and most of them flow from one to the next with ease.

Her characters are also, generally, relateable (Mira is a stay-at-home parent with whistling quirks) and act as great mediums for the supernatural and awesome things that revolve around them (i.e., her baby disappearing).

The . . . uhm:

There's very little middle ground for this novel, not really. Everything is either top level or lost on me.

'He took in the smells and sound of the skateboard park. The scent of stale beer was overwhelming. It mostly came from the covered bags lying around. He was also getting hungry as the smell of hot dogs and pretzels worked their magic. In the background the skateboard wheels rolled over the concrete. He heard yelps as random spills tore at hands at knees and hands of the riders.' (21)

When zoning in on certain characters, in this case Michael, the author shows decent clarity and insight into her character's sensory perception, but not always so much on the thought side of their experience. Furthermore, its at these junctures where the author becomes slightly less clear in her work. The first couple of sentences are fluid, and the whole thing has great variation in syntax, but the third sentence . . . really? His stomach couldn't grumble or something to indicate his hunger? Could the fourth sentence not be rephrased? What the hell is a 'rider'? Skaters skateboard, Riders . . . well I only know of one by the name of Flynn and he's often tangled in thieving and smoldering. In addition, there are a shit ton of characters also in the scene and this novel basically revolves around a bunch of characters in different scenes conversing about those scenes and it can get weird when she zones in on more than one at a time, but generally we have one or two viewpoints on a situation.

Seriously, lots of shaky ground at times, back and forth between 'I really want to read this book' and 'why the hell do these characters only have names and descriptions why aren't they doing anything, should I care about them?'.

The not so good:

There is no character development. We have nearly a dozen characters running around, and they're all thrown at your face in the first few chapters. I forget who Trina is just about every time she isn't mentioned. There are just too many people here and so while I don't blame the author for not developing every single character, maybe just one or two main ones? Maybe one from the Ross family, one from High Five, etc? I liked Michael enough as he helped make the novel clear, but does he always have to seem so suspicious of everyone? I did not understand the tension between Michael and Stu and in the greater context of the astral planes and Mrs Ross's secrets, I couldn't bring myself to care. I would have liked a few characters just . . . to not be there, and in their places I would like more background on the High Five gang and more development on the characters. Seriously, they literally experience puberty multiple times and face death and different universes over and over again . . . that should put things into perspective. . . .

So generally, this novel was interesting and it's a quick afternoon read. If you need to kill time, then go ahead and pick it up. The worlds that are introduced are often fascinating and the mysteries unfold brilliantly beneath the pages. With a bit of polishing and development, this could definitely be a four star novel.

- Marlon

What's your favorite alternate universe? Narnia? Oz?
Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Review: Crewel - Gennifer Albin

Crewel
Gennifer Albin
Series: Crewel World, #1
Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Beyond Incredible
On Goodreads

How do I even begin to talk about the gloriousness that is Crewel? This book was absolutely incredible and not only exceeded my expectations but blew them up. Seriously.

The concept of Crewel is pretty difficult to explain. Arras is built and controlled by women known as spinsters who weave the reality of the world. Among these spinsters is Adelice Lewys. I could go into more detail about her talent and the world, but this is the kind of thing you’re going to want to read on your own. Gennifer Albin does a beautiful job explaining this world, weaving the details into the plot seamlessly. There is so much detail to this world and there was more to discover throughout the entire book. This world was built so well, drawing me in and keeping me interested. There was, of course, background about the world and how the weaving worked, but there were also details about how the world was run. Throughout the story we find out more and more about the political side of Arras, constantly trying to see where the true power lies. Adelice’s struggle to understand this power struggle made the world feel so real. Just like in our world, the power distribution in Arras is no simple thing. Crewel is probably one of the best dystopians I’ve read. The corruption of Arras is so complicated and rooted so deeply into the world.

Just like the world of Arras is well developed, so are the characters. The way the characters of Crewel interacted and behaved was very believable – each character being motivated by different things and acting on this motivation differently. The wide variety of characters did a lot in contributing to the way events played out and the way Adelice’s story followed through.

Adelice is truly a great character. She’s sarcastic and rebellious, but there’s also this tender side of her that she tries not to show. It’s clear that she is struggling to understand the people around her and she refuses to show it. Adelice has incredible strength through her hardships. She’s one of those heroines that you can look up to.

As great as she is, Adelice would be nothing without all the other characters she interacts with. From evildoers like Cormac Patton and Maela, to friends like Enora and Jost, Adelice’s choices and what she comes to know about her world comes from these people. All of these characters are so real in their own. While reading, I was anxious to see what motivated these people and what they were trying to achieve. There is so much to all the characters that I could probably go on and on about all of them, but instead I’m going to say READ THE BOOK. REALLY.

Besides all the gloriousness of world and character, the general writing on this book was wonderful. Gennifer Albin masterfully described everything that was going on in an understandable way. A world woven on looms is kind of abstract and hard to understand, but it’s not when Albin explains it. There was beautiful imagery and emotional inner thoughts. Also, the pacing was beyond perfect. In some of my more recent reviews I said how well the books were paced, but this book blows them out of the water. While I wanted to keep reading with other books, I needed to keep reading this one – the pacing was down right impeccable.

Overall I have to say that this book is EVERYTHING – and by that I mean that it’s wonderful and perfect and amazing and I can’t even. I highly recommend this book, especially if you like well-written dystopias filled with adventure and romance. These book was absolutely incredible and one of my all time favorites. I’m definitely looking forward to where this story is going!

- Kiersten

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

Friday, December 13, 2013

Release Day Book Blitz + Giveaway: Third Daughter - Susan Kaye Quinn


Today is the day I have been waiting for - the release of Susan Kaye Quinn's new book Third Daughter! I remember reading Susan's posts about this book and seeing her Pinterest for it, and now it's finally out! Wooooooo!!! I'll definitely be diving into this one as soon as I'm done with the book I'm currently reading. - Kiersten


Third Daughter
Susan Kaye Quinn
Series: The Dharian Affairs Trilogy, #1
Release Date: December 13th 2013
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Steampunk
On Goodreads

Synopsis:

The Third Daughter of the Queen wants her birthday to arrive so she’ll be free to marry for love, but rumors of a new flying weapon may force her to accept a barbarian prince’s proposal for a peace-brokering marriage. Desperate to marry the charming courtesan she loves, Aniri agrees to the prince’s proposal as a subterfuge in order to spy on him, find the weapon, and hopefully avoid both war and an arranged marriage to a man she does not love.

Third Daughter is the first book in The Dharian Affairs Trilogy (Third Daughter, Second Daughter, First Daughter). This steampunk-goes-to-Bollywood (Bollypunk!) romance takes place in an east-indian-flavored alternate world filled with skyships, saber duels, and lots of royal intrigue. And, of course, kissing.

Purchase Links:

Excerpt from the first chapter of Third Daughter:

     The cloudless night whispered sweet promises to Aniri.
     Below her stone rooftop, the shadows of the forested grounds danced in the summer’s breeze, their small rustlings calling to her like a lover. The sound was the perfect cover for escape into the darkness and the warm arms she hoped to find there. No one should notice her absence. Of all the guards, handmaidens, and many silent keepers of the royal household, none would venture up to her private observatory this late in the eve. But she still had to be careful. Even this close to her birthday, the Queen would not be forgiving if she was caught.
     Aniri scanned the palace grounds to make sure it was clear of any witnesses. The manicured lawns were empty: the only sign of life came from the distant embassy windows where gas lamps flickered and soft music trilled from late-reveling partygoers. Aniri pressed the leather eyecup of her aetherscope to her face, slowly turning the brass knobs to bring the party into focus. The instrument was meant for watching the rise of the twin full moons, but it worked well enough for spying on the Samirian ambassador and her assemblage of guests.
     Their shiny new automaton was thick-legged and awkward, but the Samirian tinker’s design was still clever: the steam-driven mechanical wonder actually danced, albeit just one clumsy pirouette after another. When it came to a graceless stop, the guests snapped their fingers in appreciation. The faint sound of their applause drifted over the lawn, but the party continued on. With the grounds still empty, Aniri swung her aetherscope to the forest. The broken edges of the river snaked through the darkened trees, slipped under a stone bridge, and then flowed past the red sandstone walls of the Queen’s estate. A black shape darted out from under the bridge, then disappeared into the shadows between the trees.
     Time to go.
     She peered over the edge of the balcony. No sense in being caught by someone who snuck out for a dalliance in the dark. With the way clear, she opened the leather satchel at her feet and uncoiled the sheet she had twisted into a rope. Always check your knots, Aniri. Her father’s voice accompanied her on every climb, but she had to wonder what he would have made of this particular one. She rechecked the knots. It would cause quite a stir if she plummeted to her death while climbing down the palace wall.
     The massive stone lion that guarded the parapet served as an excellent anchor. She looped the rope around it, then stood on the edge of the wall and leaned out over the blackness. Loop the rope under and between your feet, Aniri. It will carry your weight. Practical advice, but knots would impede her progress, and speed was of the essence. She lowered herself, hand over hand, bracing her feet against the wall. A mossy spot, hidden by the dark and slick with dew, sent her silk slippers pawing rapid-fire several times before she found purchase between the giant stone blocks.
     Always use the proper equipment. She took a deep breath. Her father would probably disapprove of her attire. Silk nightclothes were hardly climbing wear, and she couldn’t find any plausible excuse to wear her climbing shoes to bed. Her handmaiden, Priya, was far too clever for that—and already suspicious when Aniri wanted to retire to her observatory alone. At least she had her fingerless climbing gloves, and on every climb she wore the thin, braided bracelet her father gave her. For luck. She thought he would approve.
     Hand over hand, Aniri continued her descent. Halfway down, a sudden clacking broke the quiet and rose above the scrapings of her slippers on the treacherous walls. She held still against the cool stone, hands gripped tight on her rope of sheets. A lone two-wheeled surrey ambled out of the shadows of the Samirian embassy and headed toward her dark corner of the Queen’s estate. Aniri held her breath and silently cursed the full two-moon night. If the carriage came much closer, the occupants would surely see her clinging to the side of the palace like a spider on her thread.
     The six-hooved beast pulling the surrey slowed as it neared the giant stone statue of Devkasera. The mother goddess of ancient Dharia loomed larger-than-life, threatening the carriage with a sword and a scroll—the powers of destruction and creation—clasped in two of her six hands. The Queen loved the ancient traditions, so the goddess held a place of respect in the middle of the palace lawns. Aniri preferred the clean streets and steam-driven inventions of modern Dharia to the unwashed feet and mystic religion of her country’s past, but that didn’t stop her from sending a silent prayer to Devkasera—for invisibility for herself or perhaps a sudden loss of sight by the persons in the carriage.
     The surrey paused at the statue, then veered right and headed for the far wall that enclosed the estate. Aniri repressed a laugh—perhaps she should pray to Devkasera to bring her birthday sooner as well. Her arms ached from holding her position, but she waited until the carriage had passed through the palace gate. Beyond it, the lights of Kartavya, Dharia’s capital city, winked through the coal-smoke haze as if giving her an all-clear signal.
     Her muscles rejoiced when she moved again, working her way down the last half of the wall and dropping the final two feet. From there, she scampered over the surrounding manicured hedgerows as if she had fled the palace a hundred times before. Her unbound dark hair flapped behind her, and the cool night breeze fluttered her black silk nightclothes against her skin like a thousand butterfly wings. It was the feeling of freedom breathing against her, and she had to clamp her teeth against the giggle that threatened to ruin her escape.
     She slowed and picked her way through the darkened brambles of the forest grabbing at her legs. The first time, she slipped away from dinner in her normal evening attire—a midnight-black corset latched with brass clasps, a starched skirt of blood-red silk, and a sweep of silk over her shoulder for the traditional touch the Queen required. Aniri thought the dark colors would ease her escape, but she had stuck to the needled branches like a royal pincushion. The second time, she cast aside the bodice and most of the silk, keeping only her short bloomers and camisole—essentially running through the forest in her unmentionables. That had been deliciously decadent, but also very chilly. This time, her nightclothes were proving the most suitable costume yet for midnight escapades.
     She smiled and slipped through the forest like a phantom, black on black, silent and stealthy. The faint trace of coal smoke gave way to the fresh scent of leaves mixed with river mist. She breathed it deep: the lushness of it always captivated her. The Queen had imported trees and beasts from the barbarians in the north to recreate the Dharian forests long ago swept away by agriculture. Fortunately, her majesty favored the gentle animals sacred to the gods. Aniri was careful not to disturb a long-tailed bandir hanging from a branch, eyes closed and peaceful. She didn’t believe the superstitions about waking one, but she couldn’t afford the screech it would let loose.
     Aniri broke out of the forest and onto the wet rocks bordering the river. The footbridge ahead was a silent sentinel over the constant chatter of the river. There was no sign of movement. Was she too late? But then Devesh stepped from the shadows, showing his face to the moons as if he had nothing to hide.
     She skittered over the slippery rocks and flew into his arms.
     “Aniri,” he said, but she was uninterested in wasting precious moments with words. She shut him up with her lips pressed fiercely to his. He closed his dark, humor-filled eyes, and wrapped his arms around her. Being a courtesan, he was well-trained in courtly conversation, but the artistry of his lips moving slow yet urgent against hers made her forget her own name.

About the Author:

Susan Kaye Quinn grew up in California, where she wrote snippets of stories and passed them to her friends during class. Her teachers pretended not to notice and only confiscated her stories a couple times.

Susan left writing behind to pursue a bunch of engineering degrees, but she was drawn back to writing by an irresistible urge to share her stories with her niece, her kids, and all the wonderful friends she’s met along the way.

She doesn’t have to sneak her notes anymore, which is too bad.

Susan writes from the Chicago suburbs with her three boys, two cats, and one husband. Which, it turns out, is exactly as a much as she can handle.

Author Links:

Giveaway:

20x “Third Daughter” mini M&M packs (US only)
A steampunk key necklace (INT)
"Third Daughter" East-Indian style bridal jewelry (INT)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Blitz hosted by:


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Review: I've Got Your Number - Sophie Kinsella

I've Got Your Number
Sophie Kinsella
Series: N/A
Genre: Chick Lit, Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Delightful
On Goodreads

Hi guys! Since I have been busy playing internet games and not reading, this week I needed to delve into my library of already read books. I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella is actually one of her best books - although, unfortunately not as good as Confessions of a Shopaholic.

Nevertheless. Kinsella came back strong with this sassy and quick read: it's a chill chick lit novel and is pretty clever too!

So this novel is about Poppy, who is recently engaged. She has just lost her fiancee's family heirloom engagement ring (that's how you know something crazy is going to go down). She also, loses her
phone. So what does she do? She picks a phone out of the trash and tells everyone she sees to call that number if they find her ring. Turns out, the phone is the perfect man's assistant's phone: Sam Roxton.

After Poppy uses her adorable charm to convince Sam to let her keep the phone, they began corresponding in sassy emails and texts. Their friendship is so refreshing because there's no weird flirting that goes on while she's in a relationship. I personally think that shows a lot of class, and I love that Kinsella chose to do it that way.

Poppy is charming, and although she is a little ditzy at times, she's cute about it. The real reason I loved her character so much is because when she is faced with a problem, she freaks out a little, like any normal person would - she's not the heroine who comes out of nowhere, she struggles to find her path, but she always finds it. Plus, she's a little bit of a stalker (not in the creepy way, in the helpful "I found stuff that can help you" way) - it's actually kind of endearing after we get over the strangeness of it.

We can't forget how absolutely adorable Sam is: he helps Poppy out with Scrabble, has cool connects in the fake jewelry world, and is just a stressed out guy. He's fabulous, he ROX(ton).

Before I give away too much of this book (which I always seem to do when talking about books I really enjoyed) I'll end this here. Sophie Kinsella is witty and charming and I have endless amounts of love for her: if you are looking for a light romance/funny novel to read, this is it.

- Amrutha

How would you react if a random person took over your phone?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Book Tour Review + Giveaway: Path Unchosen - Kim Cleary


Hello, and welcome to our stop on the Path Unchosen by Kim Cleary book tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!

Path Unchosen
Path Unchosen
Kim Cleary
Series: Daughter of Ravenswood #1
Genre: Dark Fantasy, New Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Release Date: September 7, 2013
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Sometimes good
On Goodreads On Amazon

About the book:

When eighteen-year-old Judy Hudson discovers she’s a necromancer and sees first-hand the pain her powers can cause the dead, she just wants to deny who she is. The zombie plague is long over. She wants to find a more normal life, but that’s a challenge when a beautiful otherworldly man, who claims to be her guardian, saves her life.

Judy tries to set right the harm she inflicted on a spirit she raised, but new zombies attack—zombies raised from among the long-time dead. Someone else just like her is out there, and he’s not trying to set anything right. To save her own life, and protect the innocent inhabitants of the nearby town who’ve become her friends, Judy has to figure out who’s raising the dead and why. She must also learn to control the darkness inside her—a seductive darkness that promises her power beyond her wildest dreams.

Review:

To begin, the premise of this book is insane. Massive props to Kim Cleary for taking on such a complex setting. I've changed my mind a lot throughout this book so just don't even consider my Stuffed Animal Saturday post about it. That Marlon was a different man.

The best:

Evelyn the Ghost and Lyken the Imp are two minor characters I sorely wish were explored more or at least were in the piece more. Basically most of the minor characters who's names you remember are going to be the ones who matter. Here's a snippet:
"I killed my unborn baby." Her voice took on a steely edge. "I don't deserve peace." (85 on eArc)
In a world of monsters and magic, this dead lady has taken her grieving beyond the grave. Her pain is raw in everything she does and she's just so real despite being a ghost. Well done Cleary. But Judy does not develop when helping this woman . . . she just kind of accepts things. I would have liked to see her get angry, have temper . . . at least be consistent with the way she is otherwise. I would have liked to see some real exposition between these two because Judy could have matured so much by the ideas that surround Evelyn, which are subtle and that's great but not for Judy. Judy needs to learn, the whole point of the book is Judy coming to terms with herself and her powers and growing . . . the minor characters don't have to just be good one liners and ideas, they can have substance and strong influence on the main character.

The good:

There is a smooth plot. Events around the middle to the end of the book are not at all hard to follow, and I didn't have to question authenticity in most of the later decisions.

The writing style is fairly decent:
"A calm but urgent desire washed over me. The space between us popped and crackled" (78) is alright.
I am a fan of the descriptions that Judy employs for her emotions, especially when she relates them to fire and water back to back, a dichotomy I like and I hope will be fleshed out later on.

The dialogue moves the story along fine, and though it's often dry at times, it only needs a little touching up.
"What is it with you two? He's kind to me, sweet and thoughtful."
Glynn huffed. "Only because you have something he wants.
"I don't believe that."
. . .
"Believe what you want. You aren't a kid anymore."

Reason number 401 I like Glynn. He takes just about zero crap.

The not so good:

With such a premise, one can do absolutely anything in the world on the note that everything in said world is beyond screwed up anyway. With that said, this story can fall short. Not because those things aren't done . . . some are . . . but the beginning is so absolutely confusing. Please, please if this is going to be a published work make the beginning far more explicit than it is. Overload us with background information if you have to. I loved what was happening but I had no idea why anything was happening until ghosts began to be raised. Is she a witch? Why exactly does Judy need to leave the orphanage? If this is a zombie-aftermath, why is the social structure so sensibly 20th century? Shouldn't there be a bit more edgy moral bits?

Then Judy . . . Judy is only interesting because we don't know things about her. And that is no reason to turn pages for a character. I don't care about her mysterious past or how amazingly special she is if she isn't relateable or she doesn't make me think or something. She's just, contrary to Glynn's statement above, just a kid. Judy is immature and that needs to change and if it does, basically all of her other problems dissolve. This doesn't present itself too much and I suppose it could be an effect of being in an orphanage for most of her conscious life but still . . . why not just make her fourteen or fifteen if that's the way she's going to act and think? For instance, she hears about a dangerous situation around ninety pages in about a zombie. Her first thought? Well fuck, I've got to go stop that zombie? Why? Hell, I don't know, It'll probably work out. Besides, cute guys.

She can be undeniably superficial, as she falls in love because of the way he looks at her. Really? Love is around three parts respect, three parts trust, and a little less ooh undress me with those eyes.
Another reason I like Glynn? He puts her in her place.
"Our eyes connected. This was serious, and it wasn't about me." (91)
When he's around she actually begins to think seriously about consequences and her importance in the world.

Overall I don't have much to say about this book other than a noncommittal shrug and a wish for a sequel that truly indulges in all of the books upsides and the vast potential that is conferred by its premise and the characters. It is okay and it can be so much better with just small tweaks in the right direction.

- Marlon

About the author:

Kim writes urban fantasy for anyone who longs to discover they are extraordinary. She writes about hopefulness and determination, and about heroes who push through extraordinary situations and obstacles, one step at a time. Magical friends and gorgeous guys help, or hinder, in one adventure after another.

When not writing, revising, or thinking about writing, Kim gardens, plays with her dog, chats on social media, catches up with friends or cooks an Indian feast. She is a member of Writers Victoria, Romance Writers of Australia, The Alliance of Independent Authors, and a certified chocoholic.

Kim grew up in Birmingham, UK, studied medieval history and psychology at Adelaide University in South Australia and has worked all over Australia and in London. She now lives with her husband and an adorable Cocker Spaniel in Melbourne, Australia.

Author Links

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Zombies or ghosts? Or Witches? Or the ghost of witch zombies?
Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Stuffed Animal Saturday [8]

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

This is Foxy. She is foxy and very sassy and not afraid to dish out a bad word about a book. We're currently reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

So Far:This week Foxy and I have embarked through the journey which is The Kite Runner. This book seems so far to be as touching and deep as Hosseini's other book, and a personal favorite of mine, A Thousand Splendid Suns. The book takes place in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and yet seems to be both relatable and tragic.

The narrator, Amir, is kind of a prick, but the kind that knows he's a prick and works for self redemption (the one that might one day be a little bit okay). His best friend, Hassan, is so far, the most spectacular human being to ever exist and I am hopelessly in love with him already. It is obvious that somewhere soon, Hassan's kindness and patience will either a. fade away, or b. be forcibly pushed from Amir's life. I absolutely cannot wait to find out, this book literally has me begging for more.

A Sneak Peek: 
I wished I hadn’t started this conversation. I forced a smile. “Don’t be stupid,  Hassan. You know I wouldn’t.” 

Hassan returned the smile. Except his didn’t look forced. “I know,” he said. And  that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone  else does too. 
UGH HASSAN YOU MELT MY HEART.

- Amrutha

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

Friday, December 6, 2013

Project V.O.I.C..E and Other Excitement

Hey everyone! My post today isn't going to be a book review like normal. A few days ago, Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye -- spoken word poets from Project V.O.I.C.E -- did a performance and poetry workshop at my college. If you've never heard any of their poetry I STRONGLY urge you to YouTube them and listen to their work (also listen to Sarah's TED talk). When I found out they were coming, I was SO excited to see them and now that I have, I wanted to share the experience with anyone reading this, for a few reasons. Not only did I get a chance to meet two of the people I look up to the most, they had a workshop event afterwards where they gave writing tips that I'd love to share with you. I know any avid reader can appreciate the feeling of freaking out an being excited over an event or meeting someone so I figured this would be a good place to share my experience. And if I introduce a few people to Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye along the way, that's an added bonus! 

I've been a fan of spoken word poetry for many years and I've been a fan of Sarah and Phil for quite a while too. I have memorized some of their poems word for word just by watching them on YouTube so many times. Listening to them gives me chills and when I found out they were coming to my campus, nothing could hide t excitement. I was flailing and jumping and fangirling for ages. However,no amount of hours spent watching videos could compare to the real, live thing. 


The first thing I noticed: Sarah was tall. Phil was taller, but he is a boy and therefore expected to be tall. Her tallness was above the female average. Very fitting, considering her words are larger than life and can fill up an entire room, demanding and commanding attention.  

The last thing I noticed: Phil is soft spoken. When he recites poems, oh boy does his voice resonate and carry. But e recites in such a soft, beautiful way, one can't help but listen closely and hang on to every word. And when he speaks conversationally, his voice is so quiet and smooth it's absolutely stunning. 

Anyway, watching them perform live was a wonderful experience I want to relive forever and ever. Every second and every word had a new way of chilling me to the bond. Even the poems I watched so much I memorized had a COMPLETELY different event live. It was so beautiful and sincere and overall perfect. 

After the performance, they had a little booth of some of their books for sale and said that even if you don't buy anything, come on line just to talk to them. How cute is that? I bought two books and had them signed and I made sure I told them exactly how excited I was to be there and how much I loved them and how much they inspired me. 


After that, we were waiting for last minute sign ups for the workshop and says bong around and Sarah and Phil were kind enough to take pictures with people so this is a thing that happened that I am still not over and probably never will be over. 


After a short while, we began the workshop, which was one of the best experiences I've had. It was a very small group of people so it was very up close and personal and they took the name to remember all our names. I am going to repeat this again because it made me so happy I actually still cannot contain myself, multiple days later. SARAH KAY AND PHIL KAYE SPOKE TO ME ON A NAME TO NAME LEVEL. Anyway, we started with an exercise of writing down things we knew to be true. In this way, they taught us that if you ever need something to write about, write down things you know to be true, and then play with those ideas until you have a real, workable idea. Not every story has to be about abstract things like life and time and happiness. Something about that time you punched your best friend in the face can be just as powerful if you do it right. 

We also did exercises in picking a word and taking it further than just speaking it. We had arm movements and body movements and threw ourselves into the word, and everyone else threw themselves back as if mirroring us. Sarah and Phil said that to perform spoken word, you have to make sure all of yourself is committed to each and every word and that nothing seems stiff and awkward. 

They did a few more exercises with us, some of them silly, all of them insightful and I know I learned a LOT about writing -- not just poetry but writing in general. This was such an amazing experience and opportunity and it's left its impression on me in a way I hope I can use to improve myself. See you next week!

- Noor