Saturday, February 28, 2015

Review: Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn


Gone Girl
Gillian Flynn
Series: N/A
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Wild From Start to Finish
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

This book is absolutely INSANE. Like insane as in the dictionary definition of the word: in a state of mind that prevents normal perception, behavior, or social interaction. And I am not one who pulls out dictionary definitions for light use. This book hit me so hard that the second I finished reading it, I stared at it in awe for a few minutes, and then started watching the movie immediately after because I just couldn't be done. (The movie was really well done by the way, props to David Fincher and everyone else who worked on it). And then I fell asleep watching the movie because it was like eight in the morning and so after my friends and I got lunch/dinner the next day and we went back to my one friend's house I insisted that be the movie we watch and I finished watching it there and I was still reeling about this incredible tale for so long after its conclusion it was probably a little unhealthy.

Okay, first things first, one of the most astounding and well done things about this novel was the shift in the voice. The novel is divided into three parts, and it's told through both Nick Dunne and Amy Elliot-Dunne's perspective's. And I don't want to spoil anything, but on the very page Part Two starts, this big shift has occurred, a Thing is about to be revealed, the plot is thickening! And everything you thought you knew about these characters just comes crashing down. But the most shocking thing wasn't even what was happening (which was still pretty insane). It was that as soon as Gillian Flynn started writing the words in that chapter, there was such a sudden change of voice (on purpose, this is a Good Thing) it was absolutely remarkable how the character I thought she'd been writing took such a dramatic turn.

And getting into the characters themselves is something I could go on forever about but it's really so hard to even discuss it without giving anything away. This book is shrouded in so much mystery, but it's such a great book and I just want to read it all over again. The premise, if you hadn't heard, is that Amy Dunne goes missing on her five year wedding anniversary and the cops are looking at Nick Dunne, her husband, as the prime suspect. I know I said the points of view alternate which probably makes it seem like I gave away whether or not she was alive or not but I will also now tell you that Amy's point of view includes diary entries starting seven years ago so now you do not know her state of life and whether her husband is a killer or not. Let's back to the characters though, now that you know what's going on.

So we have Amy, who is Amazing Amy. You see, her parents basically "plagiarized her childhood" and created a bestselling book series called Amazing Amy (it reminded me a lot of Junie B. Jones I feel like that's a valid comparison) based off of their daughter. Amy was definitely the most interesting character of the novel, to say the least. A bit of an enigma, and then not so much, like she was being unraveled, but there was only so far one could get.

And there's Nick, who is the epitome of the clueless husband and even though he's narrating you still don't really know whether or not he killed his wife. At first he seems like he's a pretty good narrator, telling us all the details, and it's with the introduction of a certain character, who added a shock factor -- as if this book needed more of a shock factor -- you realize he's actually a pretty Unreliable Narrator and is Nick Dunne keeping more secrets than we know? From then on (or maybe earlier than that, but it was that point for me) you don't know where you stand with the Nick and Amy narrative.

I wish I could say more about whether I liked them or not but that gives away a lot about what happens and I'M SO UPSET THAT I CAN'T SAY SO MUCH OF WHAT I WANT TO SAY ARGH.

Another character I love is Margo, nicknamed Go. She's Nick's twin sister and delivers a lot of great lines and often serves as Nick's partner in crime (not literally) and also his conscience. She was clever and funny and I just enjoyed her character being there a lot. I also liked Boney, who was one of the police officers working the case. She was the "good cop" and also was the one who wasn't antagonizing Nick as much throughout the story. I found the way Nick described her and then went on to describe some other women in his life very interesting.
"The woman was surprisingly ugly—brazenly, beyond the scope of everyday ugly: tiny round eyes, set tight as buttons, a long twist of a nose, skin spackled with tiny bumps, long lank hair the color of a dust bunny. I have an affinity for ugly women. I was raised by a trio of women who were hard on the eyes—my grandmother, my mother, her sister—and they were all smart and kind and funny and sturdy, good, good women. Amy was the first pretty girl I ever dated, really dated."
Not only was it an unconventional way of effectively describing Boney's physical appearance, it also said a lot about Nick as a character and how even though he might not see the harm in his statement -- he might have called her ugly but he also mentioned his affinity -- it showed how much his father affected his thinking after all, a fact he'd definitely resent.

I think every character in this book was well-written and fleshed out phenomenally. I felt shivers down my spine and was creeped out at the right moments and was emotionally attached to the storyline and it wouldn't have happened if the characters were all two-dimensional. I even found myself having strong feelings about a lot of minor characters. Gillian Flynn put a lot of work into making every single person included in this novel important.

She also clearly put a lot of work into making sure the writing was of a high caliber because the words are beautifully crafted. Everything is so eloquent and flows so well. Combined with the thrilling plot, it makes the book something you just can't put down. Every word so splendidly and effortlessly fell into the next one, and the writing was compelling and gripping. I can't speak enough about how much I loved the way Flynn wrote this book and I just want to go out and purchase her other two novels right this instant.

As a second-to-last comment, what I will say about the book as a whole without giving away plot details is that I really loved all the themes explored in this novel. I loved the questions posed about mental illness (I mean, I don't know if the character in question was intended to have mental illness or suffer from legitimate psychopathy or sociopathy but that's definitely my take on it) and how characters might act based on that mindset. I also liked the theme of women molded by misogyny and how their lives pan out. There's so much to take way from this book and I absolutely love it.

My final comment (I know, this is getting long, you're happy to see the end) is about the ending, WHICH I AM FURIOUS ABOUT, but which I suppose I understand. The ending just LEAVES ME SO UPSET and not in a "my favorite character died and I'm sad" way but in an "I am totally unfulfilled and I can't believe this happened" way. I understand that it ended this way because it showcases a certain type of manipulation and how one of the characters can never truly escape but it left me feeling like so much happened and then the ending just took away the explosion that was about to happen. I NEED CLOSURE, I NEED SOMETHING TO HAPPEN. GILLIAN FLYNN, I NEED AN END TO ALL THIS MADNESS, THIS IS TOO OPEN-ENDED FOR ME TO HANDLE. It does leave off excellently for a sequel if she is ever to write one, however. And it's excellently executed and like I said, I definitely understand why.

Okay, I'm done raving about this book, and I need anyone who stuck with me through this mess of a review to please go read it right now.

- Noor

Have you ever lost anyone or anything important?
Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Life of a Blogger - Routines

Life of a Blogger is a weekly meme hosted by Novel Heartbeat. This feature is designed to let readers and other bloggers get to know us on a more personal level by discussing non-bookish topics. This week's topic is...

Routines!

 Kiersten

To be honest, I don't have much of a routine. I mean, there is some order in my life: I have a class schedule; I live by the bus schedule; I have pledge meetings at my sorority; I used to have regular dance rehearsals up until this weekend. Other than that, however, my life is pretty erratic. I don't have a regular sleep schedule since my classes are all over the place. I also don't have specific times I like to work on classwork, shower, or anything like that. I pretty much just do things whenever I feel like it or have time. Or when I have to - for example, I do my laundry when I run out of clean underwear. Basically, my life lacks structure and maybe I should add some...

 Marlon

As a commuter, routines are the bane of my existence. Wake up either at 7:30am or 9:00am to get on a train to go to my 9:30 or 11:00 class to begin the day, work through those classes, go to my clubs or meet with my advisers, come home, drop all my crap and repeat. It's more complicated than that, but generally a lot of my time is wasted on the routine things that I have to do, and its quite bothersome but there are some things which I enjoy. Like showering at midnight and doing laundry on Fridays. I like Fridays. No work. Nice, warm, new sheets. It's a glimmer of hope.

I also go through a buttload of T.V. shows in a routine and somewhat organized manner. Often I'm not home when they air, and if I am I'm busy, so I download the episodes and watch them later. So Thursday mornings, for example, are spent on the train, but also spent watching The 100 episodes. Likewise, Wednesday, my only-two-class day, is spent watching Gotham, Supernatural, The Flash, and Agent Carter, or whatever shows on Tuesday. It keeps me sane.

Generally with food I try to eat on the train? I pack most of what I need but I often end up buying something around 4pm from around the Washington Square area.

I hate routines. Long live the chaos and anarchy of summertime.

 Noor

Like Kiersten, I'm not much of a routine person. The things I do routinely are things I have to do routinely. I go to class at the same time every week because that's how classes work. I take my medication every night because if I don't I'll have seizures and vomit six times in a day and get my roommates laundry without remembering it. I do normal people things like showering and tooth-brushing. I don't really do laundry very often because I can go a while without repeating clothes.

My club meetings are kindof routine but some of them conflict with other things I have to do, such as weekly service events for APO (the community service fraternity I'm in) so I try to switch it up and go to meetings some weeks and weeklies some others but I can't really keep it at a strict every other week schedule because it depends on whether the events are capped on the calendar and what's going on with the meetings, ya feel? APO (which I mentioned before, it stands for Alpha Phi Omega) meetings don't conflict with anything because they're at 9PM on Wednesdays so those are pretty routine.

I don't sleep or eat regularly (sometimes not even every day but I'm getting a lot better at that!) but every Wednesday after my 9 AM class, my friends from the class get lunch or breakfast or whatever it is and sit and chill for many hours until like 2 PM and there's usually a rotating cast of people joining us and it's pretty nice and that's a regular thing and my only really regular eating thing because other than that I just eat when the people I'm with are eating and I think it's been an adequate amount of hours since my last meal.

I've started making my bed and tidying up every day because some weird part of me is on a strange kick and I don't know when it's going to stop but I'm really feeling it.

Other than that I don't do much routinely other than stalk my future bae's every move...I mean what?????? 

 Amrutha

I am also not much a routine person -- while I do everything on a routine that absolutely requires it (classes, club meetings, research, etc), I generally like to enjoy a certain amount of flexibility in terms of when I want to do things. I generally structure stuff on a day by day basis with to do lists and things but usually I use it just as a starting point for my day. While I most always get done what needs to get done (also like eating and showering and whatnot), it almost never happens in the same order every time.

I tend to like to do one thing for a long stretch of time, like I like to commit to studying one subject for a while or marathoning a tv show or dedicating multiple hours to doing things. I find that I'm so much more productive when I commit a long stretch of my day to a certain activity rather than trying to do bits and pieces of different things over that same stretch -- I'd rather write an essay in one shot than write a paragraph, read a chapter of a book, and then go over some vocab words. It would more or less be me dedicating a whole bit of time to the essay, and then time to the whole book, and then time to all of the vocab words.

I pretty much sporadically clean and fairly spontaneously decide when I'm going to be social and what have you, so routines kind of take a backseat in my life.

Also, not to worry, I know that Noor stalks my every move, not sure why she called me her "future" bae though :(

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

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Favorite Heroines in Books

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


Favorite heroines in books!

Kiersten's Picks
  1. Tessa Gray from The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare - I'm pretty sure it's no secret that the bloggers of We Live and Breathe Books love Cassandra Clare. Out of all of the strong female characters within the Shadowhunter world, Tessa is by far my favorite. She's intelligent, feeling, independent, and just all around awesome.
  2. Celaena Sardothien from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas - Based on my review of Heir of Fire, it's fairly obvious that I think Celaena Sardothien is the most kick-ass heroine around. She's a freaking assassin and SHE DOES WHAT SHE WANTS. 
  3. Lora Jones from The Sweetest Dark series by Shana AbĂ© - Part of the reason I love The Sweetest Dark and The Deepest Night so much is because of Lora. She is kind of crazy but that's really what I love about her. She can be defiant and that's awesome. I like characters who do what they want because I generally like to do what I want.
  4. Lela Santos from the Guards of the Shadowlands series by Sarah Fine - From just the premise of Sanctum, the first book in this series, it's fairly obvious that Lela is a passionate and determined character. Throughout the entire series, I admired her passion and how she kept working towards her goal even when it seemed hopeless.
  5. ANNABETH FREAKING CHASE from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan - What would a favorite heroine list be with out this HBIC? Annabeth is awesome and I don't really think I need to justify this.
Noor's Picks
  1. Ginny Weasley from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling - Okay real talk I wanted to pick like every Harry Potter character and then I wanted to pick Hermione, Luna, and Ginny, and then I decided to pick Ginny because since Luna is my favorite character, she gets all my love all the time and Hermione is like just known as hardcore female character, especially because the movies gave her all of Ron's prominent lines, but the movies also took away any semblance of personality of Ginny so this is my space to talk about how much I love Ginny. She's badass, she's the closest with Fred and George and gets in on the hijinks, she's strong and opinionated, and she married her celebrity crush from when she was ten. She is everything I aspire to be and more. Rock on. 
  2. Tally Youngblood from the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld - I like Tally because she's more of an antihero and then not even that and she's not really a "good guy" but she's still the protagonist. She's good but she's naive and then she turns "bad" but then not really  and it's all so twisted and it's so interesting watching her journey and her not really corruption but just the drastic change and I absolutely love her just because she's so dynamic and her entire character kind of hits you like a shard of glass. 
  3. Katsa from the Graceling Realm by Kristin Cashore - I think Graceling is a really underrated book and one of the best parts of the book is the protagonist, Katsa. She's a bit hardheaded, but I prefer the term headstrong. She likes to do things her own way and she's very stubborn and rough around the edges but also very very human which is easy to forget because she acts so tough all the time. I just love her so much and her story is so interesting and watching her interact with other characters is so insightful and you should all read this book. 
  4. Kira Walker from The Partials Sequence by Dan Wells - This was another book I thought was on point and she was such a great character. I liked her take charge nature (I feel like this is a recurring theme) and the way she handled situations and how the book would not have felt so raw and real if her character had been altered in any way.
  5. Liesel Meminger from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - Sob, Liesel is so adorable. There's the fact that she's a book thief which is like, the best kind of thief to be, but she just has such a good heart and is such a bomb little risk-taker and I'm kindof in love with her. 
Wow it was really hard to only pick five, there are so many strong female characters I love. 

Who are your favorite book heroines?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Review: Zodiac - Romina Russell

Zodiac
Romina Russell 
Series: Zodiac, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Thanks to Razorbill for the ARC I received at Book Expo America!

When jumping into Zodiac, pretty much all I knew about it was that it had something to do with the zodiac - the twelve astrological star signs that are popular for telling your horoscope. After starting the book, I realized there was going to be more to this book than I had imagined.

Zodiac follows Rhoma Grace as her world seems to be falling apart. In her society, people live among the stars on planets in the different constellations of the zodiac - Rho being from Cancer. After an unexpected tragedy that Rho predicted, she's whisked onto a journey to save the entire zodiac from an unknown power.

At the start of Zodiac, I was a little confused. Right from the start, Romina Russell throws you right into the world of the book, using terms specific to the world. There is a lot of information that the reader has to internalize quickly to understand what's going on with the world. While it was a bit to wrap my mind around, I actually really liked the way it all came together. Romina Russell puts things into context and explains the things that need explaining in order to follow what's going on without making the reader feel stupid. It's a fast paced story, but I definitely didn't feel like I was getting lost along the way.

Speaking of fast paced, this story definitely is. There is so much that happens in Zodiac! While it is whirl wind, I didn't feel like the story was rushed when it didn't want to be. When something needed time to develop, the time was taken; when something was quick, the story moved right along. That being said, there really is a lot that happens in Zodiac. From space travel and world destruction to intrigue and deception to romance and friendship, Zodiac kept me excited and involved from cover to cover. This is a pretty heavy story, but it's totally worth it.

When it comes to the characters in Zodiac, I really liked Rho, Matthias, and Hysan. I thought the interaction between the two boys was nothing short of comical and the relationship between Rho and the two boys was very sweet. While there was a love triangle, I didn't think it took over the story. Saving the world definitely trumped finding a boyfriend for Rho.

All in all, I really enjoyed Zodiac! It's an action packed science fiction with great characters and thought provoking plot. I highly recommend this for lovers of interstellar science fiction with a splash of romance.

- Kiersten
Aquarius

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

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Review: The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer - Laxmi Hariharan


The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer
Laxmi Hariharan
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Dystopia
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My immediate thoughts after starting to read it were being overwhelmingly turned off to the narration style. I wasn't a fan of the way our protagonist, Ruby, described situations, and I was a bigger not-fan of the dialogue. It sounded very fake and forced and rehearsed and although that definitely improved as the book went on it was one of the weaker points and I think dialogue is one of the most important aspects of character development and this book was really lacking in that area. Also, if you're going to have dialogue set the scene to introduce two characters, it's going to leave a very lasting impression not only about how the two characters are, but about how your writing is as a whole, so it puts a lot of pressure on that scene, and I didn't think the first few scenes, where Ruby wakes up and we meet her roommate, delivered. I also thought it was full of awkward phrasing. Again, pulling from the first few pages, which make quite a lasting impression (which isn't to say books that start out bad and get better are doomed to be known by their beginnings. I'm just saying the first impression is pretty important), she writes:

"that would be totally stroking his ego, making him even more insufferable than what he is now"

and then later, close to the end

" Can he read my thoughts? Of course not. Yet as he stares at me, it’s as if he knows me really well. Almost as well as I know myself; maybe better."

I feel like both of these are so awkwardly written but it frustrated me because it's so easily fixed awkward writing. In the first example, the phrase after the comma is what bothers me and honestly if she took out the "what" it would be fine. Am I the only one who thinks it reads awkwardly this way? And the second one is that somewhat typical "he stares so deeply into my soul I think he can see into all of me" thing which granted she didn't overdo so I'm not goading Hariharan on that as much as I am on the fact that there were a thousand ways to tweak it that didn't involve writing "he knows me really well."

I think with revamped dialogue and a thorough round of editing, this book could honestly be something so much more.

Okay, I just spent a lot of time bashing the way it was written so I'm gonna get to the other components and how I felt about them.

I liked the characters for the most part. Even though Ruby's narration got on my nerves from time to time I didn't dislike her as a character and I actually thought it was pretty rad that she was this strong, independent warrior girl saving her best friend. You go Ruby. Four for you. I liked that she was strong-willed and (I know I already used the word strong but strong-willed is different, let it go) and took charge.

Pankaj and Vikram were interesting enough as well even though I felt like a lot of their characters I inferred from the intended effect of the dialogue and not the actual effect of it so I'm not sure how accurate my image of them actually was.

I thought the story, although marketed as a YA Dystopian Thriller, could have incorporated more of the dystopia aspect in their little bubble of Bombay City but that's not really much of a complaint as much of a small nitpick.

Overall, while I think the book had a lot of potential, I'm not sure that I totally loved it, but if the author was ever like "Hey I edited/revamped my book" I would totally give it another shot so there's that.

- Noor

Marlon's Review
Rating: 3/5 Stars

In short, I think the idea of this book is better than the book itself.

That said, the good parts are not too bad. Though it took me a while to get through the beginning chapters, I felt like Ruby's character was, at least, thought out if not presented clearly. Tea-loving, immature, and fiercely loyal and self-determined.

Not much else I need in a YA protag. I was immediately sold to the setting of Mumbai, not only because it's a rare thing for a YA dystopian novel not to be set in the West, but also because the charm of the city is captivating, and Hariharan does well to dismantle its glamour. Hariharan's descriptions are abundantly detailed as well, if not succinct. Stronger still is the wealth of cultural references that serve to add a rich layer of reality to the text. Another part of the book that strikes me is that the romantic aspect fits into the structure without sucking attention from the rest. Often, romance acts as a distraction, but here it only helps.

But because I can see the potential in this novel expressed in how Hariharan frames and builds the setting and her protag, I saw the bad parts in a much worse light. For example, I felt the city had better character development than most of the characters and that unnerved me. Pankaj for example pretty much existed to springboard off of Ruby's ideas and decisions and I felt his character could be elevated to quirky space he seems to want to occupy.

I agree with some of the other reviews of this novel that praise Hariharan's ability to build and promote narrative tension and keep a certain page-turning quality. There is never a truly "dull" moment that falls flat in terms of active narration or predictability. However, I felt that did not apply to the beginning. The beginning was clunky, info-droppy, and a bit rushed. A lot of that has to do with getting used to the pacing, syntax, and often awkward writing (described in detail by my fellow blogger here). It's nothing a few rounds of editing couldn't fix and I think Hariharan would benefit from a re-publication of this novel.

Like most reviewers, I was taken by the end. It was unpredictable, dramatic, and leaves the characters in shock. Unfortunately, because of the clunkiness, I was never able to invest myself enough to love feel the shock the characters did. It was enough that I will give Hariharan another go in the second book, but if it's similar in style, I may not finish that one.

- Marlon

What's a sticky situation you've had to get out of?
Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Life of a Blogger - Websites

Life of a Blogger is a weekly meme hosted by Novel Heartbeat. This feature is designed to let readers and other bloggers get to know us on a more personal level by discussing non-bookish topics. This week's topic is...

Websites (favorites and most used)!

 Kiersten
My most used website is easily Facebook. I honestly believe Facebook is a glorious place, filled with Buzzfeed quizzes and pictures of cats. Speaking of Buzzfeed, I also tend to troll around on that website quite a bit. Besides Facebook, Buzzfeed, and other miscellaneous quiz/lists I find on Facebook, I frequent Blogger, Goodreads, and Google. Blogger is a bit self explanatory since this blog is hosted by Blogger. As for Goodreads, I think it's possibly one of the most useful websites on the internet. Goodreads is how I shelve all the books I want to read and have waiting to be read. As an ebook reader, it can be difficult to manage the books I have without Goodreads. Then there is Google. For my design classes, I often use Google to find research images. Also, Google is just awesome - you can find all the things!

There are also the websites on which I want to spent all my money. Amazon is a great website because there are so many things and I can get two day shipping on many things via Prime. I'm also obsessed with ModCloth and Wildfox.

 Marlon

Literally so much tumblr. Too much tumblr. Also YouTube. I am lam, I use the most used sites. Wiki sites.

 Noor
If we're going off of what Chrome tells me are my most used sites, I apparently visit this blog and also Blogger quite a bit, which I suppose makes sense considering I read all the blog posts and reviews that aren't mine and and also refresh Blogger quite often because I always end up opening a draft and then having to leave and not being able to work on it and then closing the tab, and then trying again later, but having it happen again, and repeat infinitely.

Next, we have Tumblr, which I think is only not higher up because the tab is generally always open and I refresh when I feel the need to so the "hits" are probably lower, which places it as my third most used site which is still pretty high up so "it just goes to show you stuff." (That's a reference to Over The Garden Wall, which is this 10-episode miniseries that YOU HAVE TO WATCH RIGHT NOW) But uhm yeah, I waste a lot of time on Tumblr and it's getting really unhealthy. Sob.

Twitter, I use more on my phone but occasionally on the computer as well. I personally think that if you're not following me on Twitter you are missing on the most hilarious and also probably most mentally unstable (but in a totally witty and relatable way) aspect of my personality and I probably resent you a little.

I use Facebook a lot (but never during class, mom). It's pretty rad. I think people who think they're too cool for Facebook are actually really lame (not people who just don't use it because they don't want to or are uninterested or some other reason. Just people who are like "ugh Facebook is so lame no one uses it anymore. I'm not going to rant about this here but just know that I'm judging you).

I also have an unhealthy obsession with YouTubers, the platform for which is naturally YouTube. Many of them. I don't want to start naming any because I don't want to leave any out but then I can't list them all but it takes up a lot of my time. VidCon has been my goal for like all of the years.

I love to order things online and might have an addiction so not only is Amazon one of my most visited sites but also just sites for clothing stores I frequent and sites like Etsy as well.

I also like websites like Buzzfeed and Thought Catalog. Also news sites.

Also Pinterest even though I can never do any of the things described.

Okay, what we're getting out of this is that I use the internet way too much and I have way too many favorite and highly used websites so I'm just gonna stop talking now and props to you if you kept reading this far. Peace out cub scouts.


 Amrutha
So basically I spend 100% of my life chilling on the internet. Facebook and Google are easily tied for my most visited website -- I'm one of those people who never got over the Facebook craze because I just love the chat feature too much to let it go. As for Google, I ask so many dumb questions to myself that I absolutely need an answer to and refuse to ask other people about: example: how to apply suction cups effectively on surfaces that aren't windows or metal. I also love Tumblr and Youtube and Buzzfeed, although my Buzzfeed obsession is waning because of their blatant disregard for actually interpreting statistics and publishing completely biased news which is presented to the masses as a complete truth.

Otherwise, Google Chrome tells me that I visit this blog, Blogger, Gmail, and my school's website an awful lot. Other than that, I tend to spend a lot of time reading news articles, and I frequent Time and other news websites, and also satire things, like The Onion fairly often. Also, HuffPost which is like a fun combination of real news, satire, and Buzzfeed. Also I spend a lot of time on Wikipedia/Wikihow because I just like to know things but real research takes lots of time and this provides an easy medium for it.

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

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: A Court of Thorns and Roses - 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 A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas!

A Court of Thorns and Roses
Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1
Release Date: May 5th, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's
Waited on by: Kiersten

A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!



I feel like why I'm waiting on this is kind of self explanatory if you've read my review of Heir of Fire (here). I absolutely love the Throne of Glass series and I think Sarah J. Maas is one of the most incredible writers. As a result, I seriously need A Court of Thorns and Roses. Preferably now.

- Kiersten

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

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Things I Dislike When it Comes to Romances in Books

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


Things I dislike when it comes to
romances in books!

Noor's Picks
  1. Instalove - Who didn't see this coming as my number one romance pet peeve? I really like romances in books. I love the love triangles and the gut-twisting uncertainty and the Murphy's Law that always seems to apply. And I feel like that gets taken away with instalove plots. I feel like I'm stripped of my right to enjoy a good, agonizing, journey. It's annoying and takes away from the story and I just think it could be so much more. Being drawn to someone at first glance is fine but up and falling in love with them doesn't happen
  2. Inappropriate adjective use - I think the best example of this is how in Twilight, Stephenie Meyer uses five million different terms to describe Edward's golden eyes. I hate when author's harp on a character's one defining feature but then try to play this game with themselves where they won't use the same word to describe that feature twice. Also, it won't even be a distinct feature, like a lighting bolt shaped scar or something. It'll just be something normal, like red hair, but it'll never be red hair, it'll be "sun-kissed auburn locks" or something
  3. Perfection - I don't like when the love interest is too perfect. You can't have chiseled abs and also be really kind and also intelligent and humorous and play guitar and just the whole package deal. There needs to be something that makes you human (even if you're not actually a human character). My favorite characters are always the ones that have made mistakes or that have rough edges to them that just are parts of them that loving them encompasses. Being perfect in every way just in't fun. 
  4. Stalking - Wow I'm just gonna follow you around and track your every move and whenever I approach you about it you're gonna think it's sexy and alluring and not at all weird. And then it's going to turn into a relationship and I'm going to be weird and controlling and angry all the time. It's gonna be great!
  5. "You're not like other girls" - That dumb trope where the girl wears glasses and likes to read and is occasionally snarky and hates makeup and shopping and describes herself as plain and mousy but is actually really hot and thinks the guy won't pay her any attention but for some reason she's so much better for not being feminine and like also in order to be a badass female character she has to be everything "awesome" and "cool" and can't show weakness and must also reject anything seen as traditionally girly like bruh that's really lame and I'm not about it.
Amrutha's Picks
  1. Stereotypes - Oooooh there's a bad boy look at him with his leather jacket and family problems, I'm so attracted to him, screams the blonde-haired-blue-eyed-peppy-cheerleader with an undying secret of her own. Like what. This trope is interesting approximately 0.01% of times, and there are so many others like it. 
  2. Girls that make other girls look bad - In the sense that they just make girls as a gender look like a pathetic lot that need to be rescued by the man of their dreams. Books that are written in a way that include women looking weak and in need of emotional support and men looking like they not only have the perfect six pack and are valedictorian, but like they can support a crying girl and beat up that girl's ex-boyfriend all at the same time. 
  3. 0 Character Development - UGH THIS IS THE LITERAL WORST. I think my number 1 worst thing is Insta-love, but because that's in Noor's picks, I thought I'd include the second worst thing a romance novel can have -- or not have, rather: character development. Are you seriously telling me that after all this couple/friends/people-who-hate/loved-each-other has undergone together, neither of them change even a little bit? THEY JUST GET TOGETHER AND THAT'S ALL? That literally makes no sense to me and just makes the book so pointless and just why do this when you could write a book where characters evolve to be better people because of those around them and what they experience throughout the course of the novel. 
  4. Physical Attraction Only - There is so much more to a romance than physical attraction. Focusing on the blue-ness of his eyes or the chiseled nature of his abs or how his hair falls oh so casually when he runs his hands through it is nice and all, but what about the substance of his character? Why does that not seem to matter anymore? 
  5. When a character's life revolves around their S.O. - Characters who live only for their significant others are the worst kind of characters because they don't do anything except for react to what their significant other does. Like, do things for yourselves friends, and romance will come to you, don't do it the other way around. 

What do you dislike in book romances?
Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Stuffed Animal Saturday [20]

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 week, I'd like you to meet Annie, who actually belongs to my sister, and is a Build-a-Bear she got for her birthday last month. Annie is a cat and cats are attracted to sweet things and nothing is sweeter than honey, which is how she ended up reading Honeybee: a collection of poems about letting go by Trista Mateer.

So far: I picked up this book yesterday and at first only really had time to read it in the lull in between classes which disheartened me because the author's note says it's best enjoyed all at once but then I came home for the weekend to visit some people and have just been sitting and reading dozens of pages of poems and devouring them and I absolutely love them. Annie loves them too, she thinks they're really relatable and gut-wrenching (and she doesn't even have a gut to wrench).

Sneak peek: I love all of the poems in this book so I'm just going to pick one that I really like and one that Annie really likes and show you what lies inside:

I BUY PLANE TICKETS IN MY SLEEP
I am the one physically removing myself
from this place and yet
it feels like you are the one leaving me.
I will never understand how this works

SHEDDING
Giving my things back: it
feels like you are dropping our pieces.
I am too heavy to carry
under the
weight
of all this new happiness. 

Also, here's a bonus one because why not:

YOUR HEART(MY HEART)
I still carry you on the insides of me: 
cave paintings on rib-caging.
If I were a peach,
you would be the pit that holds me all together.
When I met you, I was something small and whole;
I do not know how to get back there.
You have the warmest heart I ever set up camp in.

I still carry you on the insides of me:
the contents of my suitcase heart.
I will lug you around until it breaks my back and then some.
I feel sometimes
like I have scattered my pieces everywhere,
but you are the piece I do not know how to leave
at the foot of a stranger's bed
or between the lines of a free-verse poem.
I want you to know that loving you
is freeing; that loving you is
like holding my head under water and coming up new 
again and again.

I still carry you on the insides of me.
This will not always make sense to you.

So, Annie and I both just love these poems and all the other poems we've read so far because they're all so powerful and genuine. I think Trista Mateer's writing is wonderful and many of the poems in the collection demonstrate even stronger writing than the three above -- I chose to sample those less because they displayed the best writing "quality" or prowess from the book but more because they were poems I thought were emotionally evocative (I mean, all of her poems were like that) and personally resonant (the first two moreso for the personal resonance, the third one I just liked mostly for the peach analogy and the flow and just as a poem as a whole). Annie, as someone who is trying to let someone go, thinks she came across this book at a really significant time in her life and plans on binge reading it now and then coming back to it again once she's in a different state of mind. Overall, we both love her work so far and we think whether you're in the mood for a good poem and nothing more or looking for writing that understands your personal loss, this is good for all sorts of circumstances!

- Noor

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

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Life of a Blogger - Superpowers

Life of a Blogger is a weekly meme hosted by Novel Heartbeat. This feature is designed to let readers and other bloggers get to know us on a more personal level by discussing non-bookish topics. This week's topic is...

What superpower would you chose?

 Kiersten
Teleportation. There is absolutely no question about this in my opinion. I am a bit of a lazy person, who does not like to walk far to get places. I also hate having to wake up extra early to take the bus to class. Being able to teleport would cut down on time and effort required to get places. It's also SUPER CONVENIENT! If I missed the bus, I wouldn't have to wait for the next one or walk to class - I COULD JUST TELEPORT.

In summation, teleportation is the bomb.

 Marlon
Are there any limitations for this question? Can I choose omnipotence and omniscience? Granted, having the power to do and know everything seems extremely boring. When you can do anything, there's noting left to do, because what could you possibly have to want.

Obviously, I'm overthinking.

I think I would go with the Intersect from Chuck, a database interface uploaded to the brain which grants access to a lot o human knowledge, current human knowledge at least. It also can give you kung fu. As a kid and teenager watching Chuck, I always loved that, while Chuck, the main character, could do incredible things with the Intersect, like disarm a bomb with no previous knowledge of the science involved, the effects were temporary. Chuck always stayed regular Chuck, and had to train pretty hard to keep up with the rest of his team. A superpower that keeps the human aspect -- it was something I was always amazed by.What I'm saying is I'm not over the end of the show. Please bring Chuck back.

 Noor
I have to pick just one?
Really?
Whenever the superpower question comes up I automatically default to mind reading as my number one choice, which I guess is pretty basic. I mean, reading minds isn't basic, I don't personally know anyone who can (although if they could I think they'd keep it a secret so the jury's out on that one), I just mean it's one of the more common ones to choose, not something weird and obscure. I used to always say it was a tie between mind reading and invisibility but mind reading won out so if you ever want to hear about why I think invisibility is second coolest let me know and I'll fill you in.

Anyway, I just always thought it would be so useful to read minds. I could have the upper hand in every situation. I've always been all about not necessarily having leverage but just not giving other people leverage over me, so the whole mind reading thing could ease many situations. And I like having power and being in control. And knowing things. Also, I figure it can't end too badly because I wouldn't go around digging up embarrassing secrets about people I didn't like and publicizing them and if I found out something I wasn't supposed to know about someone I'd probably just pretend not to know. I think I'd want selective mind reading so I couldn't hear everyone's thoughts all the time but just choose who to listen to at a particular moment. I also realize that sometimes the things you think aren't really the things you think (or feel). Like, I have weird daydreams and while a lot of them take place in crazy alternate reality situations, some of them are just imagined versions of real-life situations and if someone read my mind they might think I felt a certain way when I didn't so I get that there's drawbacks to every superpower. I just really like the idea of mind reading.

 Amrutha 
Time travel? Time travel. I could travel back to two days ago or two minutes ago and remedy awkward moments or visit old time periods or go see the future and check out different places at different times. I could learn so much just by existing in different times and I can't imagine anything that could be cooler than that. I want so much to travel in real life and adding another dimension of traveling through time seems like the coolest possible superpower I could have.

What superpower would you chose?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Review: Heir of Fire - Sarah J. Maas

Heir of Fire
Sarah J. Maas 
Series: Throne of Glass, #3
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Thanks to Bloomsbury USA Childrens for the ARC I received at Book Expo America!

I started reading this book in August. As many projects, assignments, and shows piled up, this book sat on my shelf looking sad and unloved, only occasionally being picked up for maybe a few chapters a month. Once the end of the semester came around, I was finally able to pick up this book. Let me tell you something about this book - every moment that I waited to finish this book was worth it because it was such a satisfying and fantastic book.

For those of you who have not read Throne of Glass yet, YOU NEED TO GO READ IT. YOU ARE MISSING OUT. If you have read Throne of Glass but not Crown of Midnight, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? GO DO IT. Now, if you've read Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight, you are prepared to read what I write below (as it contains some spoilers for Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight).  I will not judge you as harshly for not having read Heir of Fire because surely you will after I tell you of its gloriousness.

**Note: I was completely serious about there being spoilers ahead for Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight - read at your own risk!**

Knowing that Celaena was no longer going to be in Rifthold with the other characters I had grown to love, I didn't entirely know what to expect in terms of who we would still hear about. I was pleasantly surprised to read all of my favorite character's stories throughout Heir of Fire despite the fact that they were over seas from Celaena. The way Sarah J. Maas weaves all of these characters' stories together is truly magical in itself. Through the close third person point of view that we've had throughout the series, the characters continue to grow and come to life, especially some of the newer characters.

I absolutely LOVED some of the new characters, especially Rowan and Manon! I won't give too much away about them, but they are really great.

Manon, who was featured in my Stuffed Animal Saturday post a while back, is a character who I just could not get enough of throughout Heir of Fire. She's completely different from any of the characters we've met so far while still having somethings that remind me of Celaena. All in all, I'm glad to see another strong female character in this series after losing one in Crown of Midnight.

Rowan is also great throughout the book. I loved seeing the way he interacted with Celaena and helped her grow into herself. Rowan proved to be a great companion for Celaena and I can't wait to see what the next book holds for him.

Throughout the entire book, we learn a lot more about Celaena's past, but also the past of her world as a whole. Sarah J. Maas built this incredible mythology within this incredible world and it is truly incredible. Did I mention that it's incredible?

Overall, I am so happy that I finally finished Heir of Fire and I kind of feel as though I disrespected this glorious book by not reading it in a timely manner. But what a book to finish as my first book read since August! I have the utmost respect for this series as a whole - it just keeps getting better and better - and I cannot wait for the next book to come out in September (so long, sob)! At least A Court of Thorn and Roses will release in May to hold me over! Oh, and in case you couldn't tell, I highly recommend this series and this book. It gave me all the feels.

- Kiersten


Marlon's Review *nearly spoiler free*
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars



So unlike Kiersten I bought the hell out of this book, somehow circumventing the popularity of the first and second and totally not reading them until a couple of months ago. But I'm so glad for that, I would probably have died waiting to read the sequel to Throne of Glass, and then again to Crown of Midnight, and I'm dying now to read the fourth book.

For me, the strongest aspect of this book is Maas's unravelling, both of the history and mythology of the world of Erilia and of the specific character developments that drive the heart of his novel.

The first and second books were highly linear, and understandably so: there was a lot to introduce the reader to in terms of mythos and significantly more physical action going on. Therefore, the unravelling was not as significant or abundant in the past novels, which were driven in my opinion more by plot and the gorgeous, and often very sharp language that Maas has. Heir of Fire on the other hand, leaves a lot of space for contemplation, consideration, and therefore complex characterization.

The novel begins with Celaena mulling about in a Wendlyn town,  starved and depressed. This is one of the central, if not the central, conflicts in this book. In this section of the novel, she is shown to be almost completely ruined by the events of Crown of Midnight. So what the hell is she going to do about it? What will happen to her? What does she want now? How does overwhelming sadness affect a person who has responsibilities well beyond their reach that they are committed to?

Far from being a meditation on this soul-searching arc, however, there exists the contrast that is given with the other main characters. Dorian's budding romance and frigging awesome new powers and Chaol's identity crisis and his actions bring a lot to the table to absorb. The novel has a scope somewhere between Game of Thrones and The Mortal Instruments in terms of the level of character drama versus the world around them, by which I mean in GoT there's a lot of focus on the overarcing political conflicts, and in TMI there is more focus on the individual's experience. With the triple narration, there is a balance struck between these two ways of portraying a world and I really really love this particular balance.

Like Kiersten I also loved the new characters, Aedion, Manon, and Rowan. I love love loved how each of these characters helped fulfill some aspect of characterization in our main cast. For example, the combination of Rowan's gruff, immortal solidity with a tiny tiny core of sensitivity coupled with Celaena's apathy, callousness, and anger, make for a volatile thing.

"Training was bad that day." is probably used more than the average person says "like" or "uhm".

But this is good! I loved their banter, the way they brought out the worst in each other, and the partnership they built from this.

Similarly, Aedion brought out the dissent and critical side of Chaol that I have waited two books for, and Dorian seems to be in a coming of age novel the way he acts around Manon and I frigging eat up every second of it.

This book is just really good. The humor is strong, the narrative is expertly done, the plot does not feel rushed and never drags, the mythology is beautiful, the secrets are incredible, and the owls are hot. Of course I would have liked to see some more ethnic/sexual/etc representation but I'm rarely satisfied with representation these days to the point where I'm happy that at least there were those two gay faeries and the realistic female characters and the realistic display of loss. I'll take that.

Anyway, this is getting too long, just like this excessively long book. SO GO BUY THIS ISH. READ IT. IT'S VERY GOOD. 

What series do you think everyone should be reading?
Let us know in the comments!