Favorite Book Friday: Alaska from Alaska Renee!

11 Jul

Favorite Book Friday is a new feature on my blog where different bloggers come to speak about their favorite books every week! This Friday I’m so happy to have Alaska talk about some of her favorites!

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Hey everyone! My name is Alaska Renee and I blog over at Alaska Renee. I’m really excited to write a guest post for Kayla!

I absolutely love books, so much that I feel like I’m missing something when I have nothing new to read. I’m always living within their pages so I’m excited to share some of my favorite books.

1. Legend series by Marie Lu

legend
This is a must read if you liked The Hunger Games and Divergent. It’s a dystopian set in future Los Angeles and it’s about a girl name June, who is a faithful soldier for the Republic, as well as a prodigy and it’s also about a guy named Day, who is against everything the Republic stands for. The Republic is fighting against the Colonies, which in present day would have been the eastern United States. But between the demise of their families and plagues killing their own, June and Day realize they’re more connected than they thought. This series is my favorite of all time because there’s a lot of sides and you have no idea who the bad guy is until best the end of the second book. Also, June and Day’s romance is played out so well and isn’t the typical cliché story. There’s so many plot twists that always keep the story interesting and unpredictable to the point that it’s stressing. Plus, the epilogue will leave your heart ripped out. I was so distraught for weeks after I finished Champion because of my feels. Out of all the books, I recommend this one the most because it will leave you thinking and it’s such a ride.

2. Looking for Alaska by John Green

book_cover_looking_for_alaska
I got my pseudonym for my blog from this book so you best believe it’s my favorite. Obviously the most known book by John Green is, The Fault in Our Stars and that’s such an amazing book, but for me Looking for Alaska is the best he’s written. I don’t know how to put the story into words, partially because I know I’ll ruin it, but it’s about a group of pranksters that go to a private school and is led by a girl named Alaska. She’s the wild, unpredictable one and Miles, the new kid in the group is completely in love with her. The book deals with hard topics like depression, death, underage drinking and smoking so it’s definitely and I think Green wrote it well that makes you think why these kids are doing this (not that I support underage kids breaking the law). But it makes you think about life and whether or not you’re living it fully. It also has a lot of references to books and quotes a lot of things, which I absolutely love.

3. If I Stay by Gayle Foreman

If-I-Stay
This book is definitely more on the romance-y side but that doesn’t stop it from being awesome and kind of sad. A big part of this book surrounds music and I think that’s why I fell in love with it more. You have main character Mia playing the cello while her parents were die-hard punks. Adam, another rocker kid from her school, falls in love with her and despite their many differences, their love of music unites them. However, after a tragic accident leaves Mia in a coma, she must decide if she stays alive or not. I like this book because it is written in the present and in the past and it all comes together like a puzzle. The book breaks your heart because you realize that love is such a strong feeling and at the unexpected anything can happen. It was also was my favorite because Foreman showcased family in an important way which a lot of YA books don’t do. Not to mention, it gave me such an appreciation for classical music and it makes you want to find a guy like Adam.

4. It by Alexa Chung

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Alexa Chung is my role model so it’s only natural that her book is on my list. The book is filled by pictures she’s taken and she gives a look at her life and what it takes to be an “it” girl. I can seriously read this book in 2 hours and it’s a fun read and it teaches you that heartbreak is a part of life and everyday is an occasion to dress up. I can’t say that it is an autobiography but Alexa talks about her own life, in relation to common topics and fashion. The book makes me happy and it’s such a fun read because it seems so carefree.

In today’s society where Twitter allows people to only read 140 characters at a time, I feel like books are such an important thing and reading helps me take a break from life and keeps me imagining.

I want to thank Kayla for allowing me on her blog and letting me share my favorite books with you all!

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Thanks so much Alaska! I also love Looking for Alaska and If I Stay and I have Legend sitting on my TBR pile waiting to be picked up! I’ll have to move it up the list. ;)

Check out the other bloggers who’ve been featured on FBF:

1. Tiffany from Commoner Couture

Unsouled by Neal Shusterman

10 Jul

 

Unsouled

Unwind Dystology #3
Book 1: Unwind
Book 2: Unwholly

author : neal shusterman

pages : [hardcover] 404

memorable quote Hope can be bruised and battered. It can be forced underground and even rendered unconscious, but hope cannot be killed.

favorite characters : connor & risa

summary :

The story that began with Unwind continues.

Connor and Lev are on the run after the destruction of the Graveyard, the last safe haven for AWOL Unwinds. But for the first time, they’re not just running away from something. This time, they’re running toward answers, in the form of a woman Proactive Citizenry has tried to erase from history itself. If they can find her, and learn why the shadowy figures behind unwinding are so afraid of her, they may discover the key to bringing down unwinding forever.

Cam, the rewound boy, is plotting to take down the organization that created him. Because he knows that if he can bring Proactive Citizenry to its knees, it will show Risa how he truly feels about her. And without Risa, Cam is having trouble remembering what it feels like to be human.

With the Juvenile Authority and vindictive parts pirates hunting them, the paths of Connor, Lev, Cam, and Risa will converge explosively—and everyone will be changed.

review :

I am so in love with this series! I went into this book thinking that it was going to be the end because I’d heard it was a trilogy. About halfway through I found out there’s another book and I’m so happy! I think there’s so much more that can be done with the characters and as with every book in this dystology thus far, the ending perfectly sets up events for the next book. But Unsouled, like the other Unwind books, is anything but predictable. There are so many twists and turns that I don’t even know where to begin this review.

There aren’t any new voices to hear from in this third installment. Book two brought three additional unique viewpoints to the trilogy and apart from a few sections here and there, Unsouled didn’t introduce anyone major. In fact, one important character from book two isn’t in this novel at all . . which makes me hope that she’ll be in the next one! I can hardly imagine what she’s been doing throughout the events of this novel. Because they’re crazy.

I absolutely love the pieces of propaganda scattered throughout the novel because they deal with the events the main characters are directly involved in. But the people reading these announcements don’t have firsthand experience and can’t tell which companies and organizations are lying to them. I can’t imagine how I would react to some things, in a world like this. Organizations are pushing for unwinding of criminals, voluntary or not. They make all of these arguments about not wasting tax money on prisons and giving prisoners with life sentences a chance to give back for the crimes they’ve committed-they’ll even be giving to their victims’ families. These organizations are making this terrible invention seem so appealing when they don’t even care about how terrible it is to the people they’re literally tearing apart.

These are books that I’d recommend to anyone. The writing is powerful and brilliant; it isn’t too fancy but it leaves a poignant punch. The characters are all extremely different and all represent different facets of the unwind problem as well as the world in general; they’re different ages, genders, come from different walks of life. Even though these books are very dark and deal with difficult material, they’re just amazing to read.

Unsouled was a great third addition to this dystology and left me wanting more. I didn’t find it boring or lacking in pace; I can’t wait for book four!

5/5 stars

The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee

8 Jul

 

The Midnight Dress

author : karen foxlee

pages : [hardcover] 288

memorable quote When you are in love, you think nothing will ever be the same but then the tide rushes out and there it is, everything, just as it was.

favorite character : rose

summary :

Quiet misfit Rose doesn’t expect to fall in love with the sleepy beach town of Leonora. Nor does she expect to become fast friends with beautiful, vivacious Pearl Kelly, organizer of the high school float at the annual Harvest Festival parade. It’s better not to get too attached when Rose and her father live on the road, driving their caravan from one place to the next whenever her dad gets itchy feet. But Rose can’t resist the mysterious charms of the town or the popular girl, try as she might.

Pearl convinces Rose to visit Edie Baker, once a renowned dressmaker, now a rumored witch. Together Rose and Edie hand-stitch an unforgettable dress of midnight blue for Rose to wear at the Harvest Festival—a dress that will have long-lasting consequences on life in Leonora, a dress that will seal the fate of one of the girls. Karen Foxlee’s breathtaking novel weaves friendship, magic, and a murder mystery into something moving, real, and distinctly original.

review :

This book was so interesting; I really enjoyed the way in which it was written. The chapter headings were unique in that they all begun with a different kind of stitch. I know nothing about sewing so I thought that it was a nice addition to the story, especially as Rose’s knowledge of how to make her dress progresses. I also like how the narrator asks if we’d mind knowing the end of the story, right as it begins. While you might think that hearing what will occur at the end of the novel will spoil it, it’s told in such a way that it’s confusing and intriguing until you reach the conclusion and finally understand what the narrator has been showing you.

Rose was an interesting character. At first I had her pegged as the typical odd girl out who’s turned rebellious because of her situation. Because the novel is in third person, it took a while to really get into her head to understand her motivations. I loved how complex she was and not quite knowing what she was going to do next. Honestly, I don’t feel like I had a full understanding of her character until the conclusion of the book, which I liked. It made things much less predictable.

Even though I would consider this a contemporary novel, it does have many elements that makes the plot seem fantastical. Rose’s meetings with Edie seem to transport the two of them to another world, where it’s possible for them to create a magical dress and Edie spins tales about the love and loss she’s experienced throughout her life. While I loved hearing more of Edie’s story, it did distract me from Rose’s life, and I often found myself forgetting what was supposed to be happening with the rest of the book.

While I enjoyed reading it, I felt as though something was missing. The plot seemed to flow by steadily and with the end being told in portions throughout the novel, there didn’t feel like there was a real climax. Instead, I was happy to figure out the mystery, and it didn’t have as much of an impact on me because I was anticipating something terrible happening. I’m glad that I hadn’t predicted every part of it but wish it’d been a lot more intense.

Overall, this was an interesting and quick read, but doesn’t stand out from other books I’ve read. It was an interesting but okay novel.

3/5 stars

Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch

5 Jul

 

Perfected 

author : kate jarvik birch

pages : [hardcover] 304

favorite character : ella

summary :

Perfection comes at a price.

As soon as the government passed legislation allowing humans to be genetically engineered and sold as pets, the rich and powerful rushed to own beautiful girls like Ella. Trained from birth to be graceful, demure, and above all, perfect, these “family companions” enter their masters’ homes prepared to live a life of idle luxury.

Ella is happy with her new role as playmate for a congressman’s bubbly young daughter, but she doesn’t expect Penn, the congressman’s handsome and rebellious son. He’s the only person who sees beyond the perfect exterior to the girl within. Falling for him goes against every rule she knows…and the freedom she finds with him is intoxicating.

But when Ella is kidnapped and thrust into the dark underworld lurking beneath her pampered life, she’s faced with an unthinkable choice. Because the only thing more dangerous than staying with Penn’s family is leaving…and if she’s unsuccessful, she’ll face a fate far worse than death.

For fans of Keira Cass’s Selection series and Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden series, Perfected is a chilling look at what it means to be human, and a stunning celebration of the power of love to set us free, wrapped in a glamorous—and dangerous—bow.

review :

This book was amazing and a quick read. I wasn’t quite sure of what the summary reminded me of when I’d read it-only that it sounded so interesting-but while reading I was reminded of Beta, which I loved, and Wither, which was okay. Thankfully Perfected leaned more toward loved. While it wasn’t perfect, I was left hoping that there’s a sequel. I absolutely need one. I’m not ready to let go of these characters yet and think that so much more can be done!

The world building in the novel is so interesting and frightening because it is the world as we now know it, only humans can be bred to become pets. How this came to be accepted was flooring; I loved hearing several different perspectives on the legislation throughout the novel. There were unexpected opinions coming from unlikely sources. What was also interesting to me was how my concept of who the ‘villain’ of the story was continued to shift throughout the novel. There were several twists to the story that completely surprised me. They took an idea that I’ve seen in other forms before and made it something completely new and interesting, something that’s going to keep me looking out for more writing by Birch.

The characters in Perfected are very interesting. Some have the personalities that you can expect and assume simply from the summary, yet the characters are presented as so real that I was never bored reading about them even if I felt I already knew so much about their motivations and personality type. There was enough of a unique shade to each keeping me intrigued, particularly regarding how everyone saw pets and treated Ella.

I really liked her as a character. I was afraid that because of her upbringing and what she has experienced she would be more frightened and complacent. Instead, she was anything but a passive character. I loved how she thought for herself-whether right or wrong-and she created a sort of respect for her in me because I’d expected to pity her and also be frustrated with the decisions she was making. I honestly think that this is one of the few novels I’ve read in which a heroine is rising from this sort of oppression and I wasn’t continuously put-off by bad decisions and whiny behavior. Ella was fantastic!

The only criticism I have about the novel, the only thing keeping it from five stars, is that I think the romance progressed too quickly to be believable at the end. Of course the relationship was fairly predictable but up until the end I thought that it was very sweet and charming. Yet it took another turn when the ending came. I wish that either that depth had been saved for later or that more time had been spent focusing on the characters of the relationship, though I do find it hard to believe in any feelings  that arise while one character has no freedom.

Overall, I loved Perfected and am keeping my fingers crossed that there will be a sequel! I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick read filled with interesting characters and a new take on this kind of story.

4/5 stars

Favorite Book Friday – Commoner Couture!

4 Jul

Today I’m so happy to debut a new feature I’m going to have on the blog every week – Friday Book Friday! FBF gives bloggers of all sorts a chance to speak about their favorite novels and maybe give others inspiration on what to read next! Join in on all of the fun and give a warm welcome to Tiffany, the very first blogger to participate!

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Hi! I’m Tiffany Lashai Curtis, the personal style blogger and creator of Commoner Couture. I’ve been blogging for about four years but recently started a new blog on a different platform in April. The idea for Commoner Couture came from my observations that most other recognizable blogs all started to look the same, with designer labels, photo shopped outfit pictures, and bloggers with hefty incomes and luxe closets. While I still enjoy those blogs they didn’t resonate with me as a curvy-girl of color in an urban setting. So I started my blog as a way to show that everyday fashion, settings, and a limited budget can still be used to create great style.

 “Can’t Have Just One”

When it comes to discussing my favorite books, I feel the same as I do about cute outfits; you always need more than one. But for the sake of time, I’ll talk about just one of my favorites…Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

 tiffany1

Here’s the book’s short summary from Amazon.com: “In this seductive, wistful masterpiece, Truman Capote created a woman whose name has entered the American idiom and whose style is a part of the literary landscape. Holly Golightly knows that nothing bad can ever happen to you at Tiffany’s; her poignancy, wit, and naïveté continue to charm.”

            Breakfast at Tiffany’s manages to be both a literary and cinematic staple. It has remained one of my favorite books (and movies) because of its quirky protagonist, Holly Golightly. To me, she’s the modern day woman, with a classis fashion sense and fierce independence to match. While there are some quirks about Holly that don’t quite jive with our 21st century sensibility, Holly’s moving to New York City to reinvent herself, and her fear of “belonging” to someone have always resonated with me. Many of us could only dream about uprooting our lives to go make it in the city alone, but I think that is what makes Holly Golightly so endearing. She puts the traditional roles of wife and mother, and even runs away from love all in the quest to work on who she ultimately wants to be. Whether or not you’re a fan of hers her character, is bold, daring, and certainly unique and I think she may have had it right when she said “Nothing bad can ever happen at Tiffany’s.” This book and the movie as well, have been things that I go back to time and time again, when I want to lose myself in the glamour of 1960s big hair and old New York, and I think it’s a book that reveals something new every time I read it.

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Thanks so much, Tiffany! I’ve never read Breakfast at Tiffany’s but I feel like it’s one of those books everyone should read at some point in their lives.

Would you like to tell everyone about your favorite book? Email me at caughtbetweenthepagesblog at gmail.com to discuss doing your own FBF!

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

3 Jul

Ignite Me

Shatter Me #3
Book 1: Shatter Me
Book 2: Unravel Me

author : tahereh mafi

pages : [hardcover] 409

favorite character : kenji 

summary :

The heart-stopping conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series, which Ransom Riggs, bestselling author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, called “a thrilling, high-stakes saga of self-discovery and forbidden love.”

With Omega Point destroyed, Juliette doesn’t know if the rebels, her friends, or even Adam are alive. But that won’t keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. The same person who saved her life. He promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world . . . but that’s not all he wants with her.

The Shatter Me series is perfect for fans who crave action-packed young adult novels with tantalizing romance like Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Legend by Marie Lu. Tahereh Mafi has created a captivating and original story that combines the best of dystopian and paranormal, and was praised by Publishers Weekly as “a gripping read from an author who’s not afraid to take risks.” Now this final book brings the series to a shocking and satisfying end.

review :

I liked Shatter Me. Liked Unravel Me. And could barely get through Ignite Me.

Honestly, up until this conclusion I counted Shatter Me as one of my favorite books and I was so looking forward to seeing how everything in Juliette’s world would change and develop. Unfortunately even though the love story/love triangle has always been a part of these books, it completely dominated this third installment. Juliette flip-flops between the two men who love her and she’s much more concerned with deciding between them than concerning herself with an impending battle.

The book begins with the aftermath of Unravel Me. I absolutely loved the ending to that and could see what was being set up for the next book. While I’ve never liked Warner as much as some of his supporters have, I loved his character. I thought he was interesting, wanted to hear more about his motivations, and liked that he was a different kind of villain. Ignite Me completely tears apart almost everything we learned about the main three characters in book one. It was incredibly frustrating, the way that everything was so easily changed and manipulated to be viewed beneath a different light, to justify some of the events that took place throughout the series. Adam’s character was completely demolished in this book, in my opinion. He spends much of it doing absolutely nothing but yelling at people, mostly Juliette. Then storming out of rooms. It didn’t match how his character acted before at all.

So I must disagree with the summary of the book. No, this conclusion was not shocking. I could predict everything in the ending from the first few chapters. I would have marked this book as did not finish if I hadn’t had such a connection with the beginning of the series. This book is not satisfying, nor is it action-packed. I think that was what I had most of a problem with; honestly, I like romance in YA novels. Sometimes I love it-even when there are love triangles! But Juliette’s real-world problems of taking down the Reestablishment, protecting and saving her friends, as well as killing Anderson, are shoved into the last twenty pages of the book. That’s right. There is absolutely no conflict that is not love triangle related until the very end. In fact, I thought that I’d made a mistake and there had to be another book in this series.

The conclusion came too abruptly and too easily, obviously. There was much more time spent on Juliette’s training then on the actual fight, though her training mostly consisted of her not being able to do anything and then spontaneously solving her problems (usually during a fight with one of her men).

The answers I’d hoped to get about why Juliette’s world was this way never came. I didn’t really need an explanation for why some people had powers-though it would have been good to know if that was something that was typical, around the world, or if it’d just started happening. I’m really disappointed that this is the ending that we got. I’ll continue to read and love Shatter Me, possibly Unravel Me  . . . but not this.

Although this book utterly devastated me, I’d like to leave this review on a good note. I absolutely love Kenji and was glad to see him appear so much throughout the book. I also found James so adorable and lovely, though I wish that he’d had more time devoted to him and that most of the conflict had been steered toward his reaction to certain revelations.

I wouldn’t recommend this book, or beginning this series with high expectations.

1/5 stars

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

2 Jul

 

How to Train Your Dragon

How to Train Your Dragon #1

author : cressida cowell (as told to her by Hiccup Horrendour Haddock III)

pages : [hardcover] 224

memorable quote Wartihog put up his hand. “What happens if we can’t read, sir?”

“No boasting, Wartihog!” boomed Gobber. “Get some idiot to read it for you.” 

favorite characters : hiccup & toothless

summary :

Chronicles the adventures and misadventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third as he tries to pass the important initiation test of his Viking clan, the Tribe of the Hairy Hooligans, by catching and training a dragon…

review :

If you’ve watched and loved the How to Train Your Dragon movies like I did, prepare yourself: The book series that it’s based on is absolutely nothing like the movies! As of reading this first book I have no idea why they changed so much, though I plan on reading more books to know if they added some elements from the rest of the series! The dragons in this book are quite smaller than in the film, definitely not big enough to ride. Then there’s the fact that Hiccup can speak to them because he knows Dragonese. That’s right, Hiccup can speak to Toothless. Except his dragon isn’t exactly dangerous/adorable . . he’s the size of a small dog and is very selfish, snarky, and unwilling to do anything Hiccup wants him to do.

But this book is adorable. It’s filled with pictures drawn by Hiccup of himself, the events taking place, the other Hairy Hooligans, and of course Toothless. I think it’s fun that the story is ‘true’, told to the author by an older Hiccup who’s showing others how he became a hero against all odds. It also speaks about how dragons are beginning to disappear in his older years, which explains why there are no dragons around for us to see in today’s world. They may simply be in a sleep coma deep in the sea. Ready to wake and devour us after they finished digesting the last meal they had, centuries ago.

I’m glad that I went into this novel knowing it would be something completely different or else I might have been seriously disappointed. I think that it’s an interesting beginning and I want to read more of these books because I’m hoping to see more development in the characters, particularly Toothless. I also want to see what other events and stories are told that may not have any part in the movie franchise. While I think that I still like the film world better, this is a way for me to get to know the origins of that franchise and I definitely think it’s worth a read.

These books are short and meant for younger readers but I think that people of any age can read and appreciate them. They’re so well put together and I can definitely imagine them lasting in popularity, long enough for me to hand these books over to my kids whenever I have any. I can definitely see that many young readers will be captivated by Hiccup’s underdog story, the silly names and appearances of all of the Vikings. They’ll love the drawings and how everything is made to be a realistic story of the past . . combined with dragons, of course.

4/5 stars

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