Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

16 Aug

 

Love Letters to the Dead

author : ava dellaira

pages : [hardcover] 327

memorable quote You can be noble and brave and beautiful and still find yourself falling.

favorite character : laurel

summary :

It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person.

Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to the dead—to people like Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, Amelia Earhart, and Amy Winehouse—though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating the choppy waters of new friendships, learning to live with her splintering family, falling in love for the first time, and, most important, trying to grieve for May. But how do you mourn for someone you haven’t forgiven?

It’s not until Laurel has written the truth about what happened to herself that she can finally accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was—lovely and amazing and deeply flawed—can she truly start to discover her own path.

In a voice that’s as lyrical and as true as a favorite song, Ava Dellaira writes about one girl’s journey through life’s challenges with a haunting and often heartbreaking beauty.

review :

 Love Letters to the Dead is unlike anything that I have ever read before and I say that in the best way possible because I ended up really loving this book. It’s told solely through a series of letters written by Laurel, all addressed to people who have passed away. This morbid assignment turns into a way for her to express feelings and come to terms with memories that she was repressed from herself and avoided mentioning to those who love her. Laurel is having a hard time with May’s death and the reader doesn’t quite know why for most of the book because Laurel isn’t willing to speak about it.

What I found unique about the choice of letters is that several could come from a certain day when Laurel needs to let out her feelings or weeks would go by between letters and we’d only know that from Laurel mentioning that it is so. The reader has no control and needs to piece together what the narrator isn’t mentioning as well as put together the clues that she happens to leave about her past and her hopes for the future.

Laurel was a fantastic character because she just seemed so real to me. She’s a typical teenager trying to find herself and has to go through this hardship at the same time. While not every teen can say they’ve experienced that kind of loss, I think that those who are teens themselves as well as older people who remember their teenage years will be able to relate to Laurel and her chaotic, emotional life. She isn’t perfect; far from it. Similarly, her life at school and her relationships with the people around her are peppered with imperfections that only add to the realistic vibe.

By the end of the book, I was severely emotionally invested in these characters. I wanted to know what had happened while  I simultaneously dreaded finding out the truth. Just like I think Laurel needed to tell her secrets but also didn’t want people to see her differently for them. She had me shedding a few tears by the end of the book, which, despite the heavy material, I hadn’t expected.

I really love this book and think that a lot of people will also love it. I’d highly recommend reading it when you have plenty of time to read through the whole thing. You will get hooked, you may cry, and you’ll love the journey anyway.

5/5 stars

Favorite Book Friday: Chloe from Wanderlust in the Midwest

15 Aug

favorite book friday

Hello all and happy summer! Today the wonderful Chloe is here from Wanderlust in the Midwest to let us know all about one of her favorite books! Check it out!

~  ~  ~

I’m not a huge fiction reader, but non-fiction is often more thrilling. My favorite genres of literature are biographies and investigative journalism pieces, where there’s always a great story to tell. Of everything I’ve read, though, the book that sticks out to me the most is The Hunt for KSM: Inside the Pursuit and Takedown of the Real 9/11 Mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, by Terry McDermott and Josh Meyer.ksm-cover-431x431

The Hunt for KSM discusses how one of Al-Qaeda’s top members grew to power and worked with Osama bin Laden to craft the deadliest terror attack in U.S. history. The book follows two men, an FBI agent and a Port Authority official, and how they were tracking KSM even before the 2001 attacks. Similar to Zero Dark Thirty, the book focuses as much on the emotions and struggles of the main characters as it does on the events that took place. The reader really feels as if s/he were part of this team, working toward the common goal of finding KSM and other members of Al-Qaeda.

One of the most interesting anecdotes in this book is the story of Istaique Parker and Ramzi Yousef. Yousef masterminded the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and planned various other acts of terrorism, and Parker was his accomplice. Over time, Parker disagrees more and more with Yousef’s actions, and eventually turns to the U.S. government with tips, leading to Yousef’s capture. The U.S. and Pakistan actually worked together on this arrest, which is a great show of international cooperation in the fight against terror.

If you like sensational books without the muckraking aspect, enjoy reading about politics and war, or are simply a history buff, you’ll love this book. It’s more action packed than most fiction books, anyway.

~  ~  ~

Thanks so much Chloe! I don’t read much nonfiction so it’s exciting to hear about a different book like this!

Want to read about more books to add to your to be read pile? Check out the other bloggers who’ve participated in FBF:

~Tiffany from Commoner Couture

~Alaska from Alaska Renee

~Leah from Leah of the Pack

~ Vanessa from A City Girl’s Guide to Life

~Erika from Bearika Rose

~Frances from Wanderlust Notes

Want to join in the fun? Email me at caughtbetweenthepagesblog at gmail dot com so you can send in your own favorite book post!

The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

15 Aug

The Ring and the Crown

author : melissa de la cruz

pages : [hardcover] 384

memorable quote You are young still, Sister Myrddyn, but one day you will learn that a false victory is a hollow one.

favorite characters : gill & marie

summary :

Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily Throne, and Aelwyn Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. But who will rule, and who will serve?

Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second, Supreme Ruler of the Franco-British Empire. With the help of her Head Merlin, Emrys, Eleanor has maintained her stranglehold on the world’s only source of magic. She rules the most powerful empire the world has ever seen.

But even with the aid of Emrys’ magic, Eleanor’s extended lifespan is nearing its end. The princess must marry and produce an heir or the Empire will be vulnerable to its greatest enemy, Prussia. The two kingdoms must unite to end the war, and the only solution is a match between Marie and Prince Leopold VII, heir to the Prussian throne. But Marie has always loved Gill, her childhood friend and soldier of the Queen’s Guard.

Together, Marie and Aelwyn, a powerful magician in her own right, come up with a plan. Aelwyn will take on Marie’s face, allowing the princess to escape with Gill and live the quiet life she’s always wanted. And Aelwyn will get what she’s always dreamed of–the chance to rule. But the court intrigue and hunger for power in Lenoran England run deeper than anyone could imagine. In the end, there is only rule that matters in Eleanor’s court: trust no one.

review :

I tried to read Melissa de la Cruz’s Blue Bloods series a long time ago but couldn’t get through the first book. I have to admit that first I was attracted to this gorgeous cover, then I wanted to see what the story was about. I’m trying to get outside the box with my reading lately and this is nothing nothing I’ve ever picked up before. It’s like an alternate historical fantasy, with tons of drama and intrigue. While Cruz’s dramatic flair didn’t work for me with her other book, I loved it in this one. I absolutely never knew what was going to happen next and couldn’t predict how the novel would end.

There are a lot of characters involved in The Ring and the Crown and in the beginning it can get to be very confusing. Every chapter focuses on a different character but there is nothing helpful like the character’s name in the chapter header to let you know who is going to have the main viewpoint. That is one annoyance I had, having to read on-tempted to skip ahead a little-until I realized who had the focus and where they were in the novel. But I loved the characters enough not to be too angry; there wasn’t a specific character that I enjoyed reading about more than the others. I didn’t want to skip any chapters. I feel like the storylines progressed so quickly I didn’t have time to miss anyone or a certain aspect of the narrative.

I have to admit, I both loved and hated the romance aspects of this book because it ended up leaving me heartbroken. It really demonstrates that nothing can work out perfectly in the world, no matter how much you want reality to turn into a fairy tale. The beautiful descriptions of people and the opulent places in which they stayed made it all feel like a wonderful dream, yet the very real danger and intrigue brought everything down to a grittier level.

Another part of the book I found interesting with the magic that was very real in that world. I loved seeing how it was or wasn’t used in their reality. It was odd to see a regular historical monarchy with real magicians at their beck and call. I think that fantastical aspect added another element that I really liked because I was glad that it wasn’t simply the personal drama driving the plot forward.

And then I finished just to find out that this is the first book in a series! Even though I feel like it could have been a standalone, I’m so excited to see what else could happen and can’t wait to get my hands on book two! I’d recommend this book to everyone. It’s so interesting, will leave you on the edge of your seat, and will definitely have you so emotionally invested you won’t want to put it down.

4/5 stars

Eve by Anna Carey

13 Aug

 

Eve

Eve #1

author : anna carey

pages : [hardcover] 336

memorable quote You can love anyone. Love is just caring about someone very deeply. Feeling like that person matters to you, like your whole world would be sadder without them in it.

favorite characters : eve & benny

summary :

Where do you go when nowhere is safe?

Sixteen years after a deadly virus wiped out most of Earth’s population, the world is a perilous place. Eighteen-year-old Eve has never been beyond the heavily guarded perimeter of her school, where she and two hundred other orphaned girls have been promised a future as the teachers and artists of the New America. But the night before graduation, Eve learns the shocking truth about her school’s real purpose and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Arden, her former rival from school, and Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust… and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.

In this epic new series, Anna Carey imagines a future that is both beautiful and terrifying.

review :

I’ve had this trilogy on my radar for a while but only just decided to pick it up. I love dystopian novels but sometimes it can get to feel like I’m reading the same thing over and over. Fortunately Eve was a little breath of fresh air from what I’ve been reading recently. I really, really liked this novel and can’t wait to move on to the next book!

Eve moves at a slower pace than many other books in its genre but I think that it works well for this novel because it gives the reader more time to adjust to Eve’s world and also allows us to see things from her perspective. She hasn’t been outside the walls of the School since she was five years old and has no real instincts for survival. She isn’t like other dystopian heroines because she isn’t immediately a kick-ass kind of girl. She isn’t stupid, either; I saw her as the gentle, motherly type of person who’s incredibly smart but maybe has no survival sense.

This was a really quick read, especially because I kept wanting to know what would happen next with the characters. You could fly through these pages very quickly, especially if you’re a serious reader. That really worked for me because I felt like even though the pacing of the plot was slower, I was making so much progress with reading that I hardly noticed that.

It did help that the whole book had a Peter Pan vibe going for it, what with Eve running from home and Caleb taking her to a band of boys who view her as a kind of mother. Even though I’m not sure that any of it was meant in that way, it was cute and made me want to look for other parts of the book that felt more like a fairy tale than a dystopia.

Overall, I thought that this book was great. It has some of the same elements as other dystopian books but I loved how the characters made it different and I can see where the plot might go next. I’m hoping that the next installment has a little more action, fleshes out the characters more, and gets me excited for book three!

5/5 stars

Summer State of Mind by Jen Calonita

11 Aug

 

 Summer State of Mind

author : jen calonita

pages : [paperback] 256

summary :

Summer has finally arrived and fifteen-year-old Harper McCallister intends to spend her days at the mall shopping or by the pool at her country club. But after receiving her latest heart-stopping credit card bill, Harper’s parents makes other plans, and ship her off to camp.

Suddenly, the clueless yet ever-popular Harper is the new girl at the bottom of a social ladder she can’t climb in wedge sandals and expensive clothes. She seems to be winning over super-cute camp “Lifer” Ethan, though, and if she can manage to make a few friends–and stay out of trouble–she just might find a whole new summer state of mind.

A fresh and funny summer-camp companion novel to Jen Calonita’s hit Sleepaway Girls.

review :

Jen Calonita’s Secrets of My Hollywood Life series was one of my favorite book series growing up. I absolutely loved her writing so I wanted to see what else she has been working on. While I have grown up a little now, I do continuously read YA. Unfortunately it seems like I’ve grown away from Jen Calonita’s writing.

Summer State of Mind is a companion book to Sleepaway Girls, which I did not read but did not need to read in order to understand this novel. I haven’t read many books about summer camps but this one seems like the few I’ve known: A girl doesn’t want to go and ends up learning a lot about herself by the end of the summer. Unfortunately, most of the characters in this book were predictable and cookie cutter, not like the ones from her other series. I really didn’t like Harper and thought that she was getting the summer that she deserved. Honestly, I don’t care if a character has an interest in fashion, but I don’t think all fashionable girls need to suddenly turn airheaded. Everyone in the book kept referring to how the ‘old Harper’ would have done things, but I have no idea what old Harper was like. I don’t know if she liked to drop name brands as often as she does during Summer State of Mind. I don’t know if she would have been smart enough not to wear heels when she was going ziplining. Who does that?

While I do think  that this book was predictable and didn’t enjoy it myself, I’m giving it an extra star because I feel like younger girls (younger than fifteen; I’m not certain girls Harper’s age would enjoy reading this) might like the simple story as a nice summer read. There’s nothing special or memorable about this book but if you’re looking for something to take to the beach where you won’t have to follow a complicated plot or complex characters, you could pick up Summer State of Mind.

I still hope to enjoy Calonita’s writing in the future but these companion books are just not doing it for me.

3/5 stars

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

10 Aug

 

Just One Day

author : gayle forman

pages : [paperback] 400

memorable quote Sometimes the best way to find out what you’re supposed to do is by doing the thing you’re not supposed to do.

favorite character : allyson

summary :

Allyson Healey’s life is exactly like her suitcase—packed, planned, ordered. Then on the last day of her three-week post-graduation European tour, she meets Willem. A free-spirited, roving actor, Willem is everything she’s not, and when he invites her to abandon her plans and come to Paris with him, Allyson says yes. This uncharacteristic decision leads to a day of risk and romance, liberation and intimacy: 24 hours that will transform Allyson’s life.

A book about love, heartbreak, travel, identity, and the “accidents” of fate,Just One Day shows us how sometimes in order to get found, you first have to get lost. . . and how often the people we are seeking are much closer than we know.

The first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon!

review :

I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for ages. I absolutely loved If I Stay and Where She Went, also by Gayle Forman, but I suppose I was just waiting for the perfect moment to pick up Just One Day. I was on vacation and thought maybe it’d be time for a cute little romance. I was wrong about one thing: This novel is anything but a simple romance. Instead, it’s the story of a young woman, fresh out of high school, finding herself in the most amazing way possible.

Allyson seemed so real to me, probably because she was relatable. I’ve had friendships like she has with Melanie, where it’s difficult to know if you’re growing apart from a person because you’ve known them for so long, you just don’t want to let them go. She is also a little awkward in college and doesn’t really get on with her roommates. Again, I could relate to that (except I think my problem was that my freshman roommate decided to ignore me all year). Just One Day is just that. One day that changes Allyson’s entire life, though it does take her a little while to realize that it changes her in ways that are different from what she first expected.

I’ve never been anywhere in Europe so I have to admit that I was jealous of Allyson’s post-grad tour, even if she didn’t exactly enjoy herself too much on it. She couldn’t tell her parents this because it was meant to be the ‘trip of a lifetime’. Here I think that most readers can relate to her. Her parents meant well but she can’t be honest with them because she wants to spare their happiness. I think things like this cause many problems in families everywhere.

I also liked how this was a romance . . just not as much about love as I’d first thought that it would be, if that makes any sense. There is a love story in this novel but there are several other facets that make it into a meaningful book to read, rather than an easy, simple summer book. I’d highly recommend this book to anyone and it’s a novel that I feel like I need to read again because I probably missed a few things in it. I certainly need to read the companion novel! Also, I’ve never had the urge to learn French before, and now I sort of do. I don’t see this as a problem and you won’t either if you take the leap and read Just One Day.

5/5 stars

Favorite Book Friday: Frances from Wanderlust Notes!

8 Aug

favorite book friday

Hey happy readers! Today I’m happy to bring to you another FBF. This week Frances from Wanderlust Notes talks about one of her favorite reads! Let’s all give her a warm welcome!

~  ~  ~

We all know the story of a toy cowboy who was Andy’s favorite toy until the futuristic laser-pointing astronaut name came on the scene. Woody, Buzz light Year, Little Bo Beep, and who can forget Mr. Potato head, were unforgettable characters that stuck with us till today, almost 15 years later.

Toy Story was revolutionary. It was the first blockbuster hit made completely through computer animation. Something that nobody else had attempted before. It was all created by a little animation studio called Pixar.

Creativity, Inc is written by Pixar’s co-founder Ed Catmull the current director of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation. Catmull uses some of his experiences from developing and running Pixar to share his values for fostering a successful creative working environment.

Although the book claims that it is mainly for professionals or managers to learn from Pixar in empowering their employees, it’s told in autobiographical format from Catmull’s personal experience, which makes it appealing to any Pixar fan.

His suggestions and tips for fostering creativity are interesting, but the most exciting, inspirational part of the book is learning how Pixar got its start.

The book follows a young Catmull, a recent Ph.D grad from the University of the Utah with a dream of telling stories through computer animation. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, computer animation was nonexistent and deemed unimportant by the film community. Nonetheless, he continued to develop computer animation programs. It wasn’t till director George Lucas released the Star Wars that films and computer started to collide. Lucas hired Catmull to head a small research and development computer company, which eventually became Pixar.

Pixar did not have an easy start. It jumped from Lucas’s hands to the lap of Steve Jobs. Catmull discusses the turmoil of Pixar’s financial crisis along with his rocky relationship with his new partner Steve Jobs, who was stubborn and often intimidating. Then there was revamping the entire company’s mission from research and development to animation.

Catmull switches to a more educational tone once Pixar started to grow substantially after Toy Story. He addresses the importance of talented team, a group of people with various strengths that complement each other. As well as protecting innovative ideas, and developing them quickly, so if they fail, they failed fast. Then you can move on to more successful creative ideas. Lesson: Don’t be afraid of failure.

If you were interested in working in a creative industry, working more innovatively, or just looking for inspiration, I would recommend Creativity, Inc.

4/5 stars

~  ~  ~

Thanks so much, Frances! I love Pixar and reading about things like this so I’ll definitely need to check this out.

Want to read about more books to add to your to be read pile? Check out the other bloggers who’ve participated in FBF:

~Tiffany from Commoner Couture

~Alaska from Alaska Renee

~Leah from Leah of the Pack

~ Vanessa from A City Girl’s Guide to Life

~Erika from Bearika Rose

Want to join in the fun? Email me at caughtbetweenthepagesblog at gmail dot com so you can send in your own favorite book post!

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